What are allergies?
Good health is a blessing! Everything can be perfect in our lives however if we fall ill it all shatters like a castle made out of a pack of cards. The immune system of our body is a complex system that has the duty to defend and protect the body against any foreign invaders, like bacteria and viruses of different kinds.
Sometimes our body falsely reacts to certain substances and the immune system becomes over sensitive. Allergy is an enhanced response of the immune system to any kind of common substances such as foods, dust, smell or pollen. Though among normal people these substances which are called as allergens do not cause any health issues however in allergic people their immune system sees them as vulnerability and leads an inappropriate response such as sneezing, coughing or rashes and swelling on the skin.
Effects of Allergies on Health
Prolonged contact or exposure to the allergens can bring out more impactful allergy symptoms over a course of time. If this condition is prevalent for long, lungs can be damage. Also if allergies are untreated, it can cause the short-term risks for recurring skin, ear as well as nasal discomfort or infection. Proper detection and medication along with some basic lifestyle changes to the allergens can prevent the health complications for long term or short durations.
How do Allergy tests help people with allergies?
To treat any kind of allergy it is very essential to know what the substance or food product that is causing the allergy so that it may be avoided while treating the patient. Treatment depends if one is allergic to a substance and based on that the treatment is prescribed.
How are allergy tests performed?
Allergy tests are performed by examining skin as well as blood in order to find out the underlying substance or allergen which triggers an allergic response in any person. Skin tests as well as blood tests help in detecting the cause. However skin testing is easier and cheaper to get done than blood tests. Doctors depending on the patient recommend the above tests. Specialists generally carry out these tests.
Types of Allergy Tests
Allergy test is a specialty test done on skin or blood. Tests are done on potential substances like drugs, food samples, animal residues, etc. Patients undergo tests based on their potential risks. Below are the types of tests done under supervision in certain diagnostic centers:
The skin is tested with the allergens to detect the cause of the allergy using below methods:
- Scratch test is the test on the skin where a small prick is made and the allergen is placed on the marked spot of the skin. About 10 minutes of time is taken to see if there is any reaction to the substance pricked.
- Intradermal test: A small amount of the potential allergen is injected into the skin to see the reaction to it in few minutes.
- Patch test: In this test, the doctor puts a small amount of the allergen on a part of the skin and sticks it for a longer duration to see any reaction occurring.
Different patients may be prescribed different combination of the above tests.
Some patients are suggested to go for blood examination for allergy testing. Allergy blood tests are also known as immunoassay tests and include:
- Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent assay (ELISA, or EIA): The ELISA test is done to measure the amount of allergen-specific antibodies in the blood.
- Radioallergosorbent test (RAST): The RAST test also looks for specific allergen-related antibodies in order to identify your allergy triggers. Since the introduction of the ELISA test, RAST testing has not typically been used.
- Other blood tests may be conducted in order to monitor the release of chemicals that may be responsible for allergic reactions.
- Blood tests to check the amount of white blood cell counts, including a count of a type of white cell called eosinophil are also done in initial cases.
Based on the detection of the allergen or the substance causing the allergy, it is curbed from a person’s surroundings and medicines are prescribed.
Scope of Allergy Tests in India
The scope for this is highly growing as this is relatively being unveiled and new techniques are being adopted for testing potential allergens. Several cities are now having facilities for allergy testing and diagnosing.
Current Situation of Allergy in India
Research says that in India 20% to 30 % of total population has a prevalent allergic disease. Studies conducted show that about 10% adults and 25.5% children in Bangalore are said to be suffering from asthma. In Chennai apart from food and other allergies, rhinitis and asthma related allergies were 1% to 10%.
Assistance from Government & NGOs for Allergy concerns
- The Government of India takes initiatives to fight several diseases such as allergies. As several allergies are caused by food, government with Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) is standardizing procedures and assisting detecting of allergens in food.
- Allergy care India which is a non-profit organization for assisting patients with allergies and food intolerance, and has been founded with the intention of increasing the sensitivity of all against this disease too.