Why test for allergies? Did you know that 1 in 3 people are allergic? Many people are allergic without knowing it. The symptoms can have different causes and require different treatment strategies.
6 reasons to test for allergy with a blood test:
- A blood test can also rule out an allergy, so you can look for another cause.
- A blood test and diagnosis prevent the prescription of unnecessary medication such as antihistamines or antibiotics.
- Heredity is not always the explanation, measuring is knowing. If allergies run in the family, the chance of developing an allergy is greater. However, most children with an allergy do not have allergic parents.
- If you are having symptoms this is often just the tip of the iceberg, there may be allergies that are developing without you knowing it. What seems like a trigger at first glance may be just the tip of an iceberg, this is because most people react to more than one allergen.
- To combat the symptoms, it is therefore important to identify all allergens. In addition, the higher the degree of allergy, the greater the likelihood of serious symptoms. The blood test will also identify the degree of allergy.
- Your sensitivity to allergens can change over time. So testing once in a lifetime is not enough. Sometimes allergic symptoms disappear, but sometimes they get much worse.
Regular testing gives you the information you need to monitor disease development closely in order to improve your health and quality of life.
Initially, an allergy often manifests itself as a harmless condition, such as hay fever during the pollen season. Many people gradually build up an allergic condition over a period of years before symptoms manifest themselves. Others experience a sudden, life-threatening, anaphylactic reaction after the ingestion of a certain food or drug or an insect bite. There are also allergies that begin as eczema or gastrointestinal problems, but develop into asthma, accompanied by breathing problems.
An allergy undergoes changes over time. Often the symptoms become progressively worse. This progression of symptoms is referred to as the "Allergy March." However, allergies sometimes also tend to diminish spontaneously with age.
Since allergies are constantly evolving, a blood test at one time only gives a picture of the disease status at that specific time. Only regular testing for specific allergens and at fixed intervals provides the necessary information to closely monitor disease development.
What is an allergy?
An allergy is a disorder of the immune system that leads to a reaction to substances that are normally harmless. These are called allergens.
In most people, an allergy starts as a harmless thing and it can take years before symptoms develop. However, food, a certain drug or an insect bite can also lead to a sudden, life-threatening, anaphylactic shock.
An allergic reaction is triggered by a certain substance (allergen) to which you are allergic. When exposed to this allergen, your body takes action because it thinks it is a dangerous invader.
What are the symptoms of a food allergy or intolerance?
- Skin complaints, such as itching, redness and eczema
- Respiratory problems, such as wheezing, coughing and tightness of the chest
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Stomach and intestinal complaints, such as abdominal pain and/or cramps and diarrhoea
The allergen (the substance entering from outside your body) binds to IgE antibodies. When this happens, the mast cell pours out its inflammatory substances, such as histamine. These substances are quickly dispersed throughout your body to fight the danger. Histamine affects your body tissues and causes inflammation. Mast cells are an important part of the immune system and are found throughout the body.
A mast cell contains all kinds of different chemicals, such as histamine, which causes an inflammatory response. Allergy symptoms are caused by histamine which starts inflammatory responses to protect the body. Histamine increases blood vessel permeability so the mucous membrane swells. It is released from mast cells. Symptoms vary depending on where in the body the histamine is released. Runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, shortness of breath and dry skin can be signs of mast cells in your body that are reacting.
What is the IgE allergy antibody?
IgE, or immunoglobulin E, is a type of protein and is also called an antibody. It plays an important role in allergic reactions and is often called the "allergy antibody" for this reason.
If you are allergic to certain substances (allergen), your immune system mistakenly thinks that these, normally harmless, substances (e.g. pollen) are a danger to your body.
Upon exposure to this particular substance, the immune system initiates the production of IgE in an attempt to protect you from the invader. The anti-IgE antibodies remain in your body and the next time you come into contact with the allergenic substance again, it may cause an allergic reaction.
So people with allergies have elevated IgE levels in their blood.
What is specific IgE?
IgE is specific to each allergen. This means that IgE against cat only triggers an allergic reaction against cats.
Why is it important to measure IgE levels?
A blood test helps determine the amount of IgE in the body. Knowing what IgE levels you have for different substances can help determine which specific triggers are contributing to your symptoms.
The higher the anti-IgE antibody value, the more likely it is that the symptoms are caused by it. Even if you don't have any symptoms yet, but you do have an elevated antibody value, you can predict that you may have symptoms in the future that are caused by this.
A blood test is quick and easy. Unlike traditional skin prick tests, a blood test can be taken regardless of patient age, skin condition, medication, symptoms, disease activity and pregnancy.
A blood test clearly shows whether an allergy is present or not.
What to do with the results?
If the specific anti-IgE antibody values of the allergens are known, there are possibilities to rank the different substances, which influence the symptoms. For a definitive diagnosis, the IgE test results, a physical examination and the history of your symptoms should always be combined. As a rule of thumb, the higher the anti-IgE antibody value, the more likely the occurrence of symptoms. However, a person may have a low IgE antibody value but still exhibit symptoms when exposed to the topical allergen. IgE antibody testing is also done by your primary care physician if there is a medical reason for it (the cost does come out of your deductible, so you do pay for this, if it has not already been used).
The Phadia IgE allergy tests are also used by regular health care, the same as you can do in the hospital or at the doctor's. This is in contrast to the IgG food intolerance tests that are used more in complementary care, by therapists and orthomolecular doctors.
IgG food intolerance is easier to change. For this the elimination diet works, leave the products you can not stand out of your diet for a few months and then carefully add them back one by one, after your gut flora has recovered and can handle these products again.
What tests can you do?
- IgE antibodies: Am I allergic to something I breathe in? Tests house dust mite, dog allergy, cat allergy, pollen and moulds
- IgE antibodies: Am I allergic to something I eat? Test for food allergy
- IgG antibodies: Am I intolerant to nutrients (IgG 1,2,3,4) or do I have an IgE allergy that I should investigate further? Take the "What can I eat" test.
- IgG antibodies: For a good overview of where your food intolerance is, do thescreening and a custom survey for nutrients I don't respond well to.
Also read our blog about Triggerfoods