Knowing your allergies
Knowing what you are allergic to is the first step in avoiding uncomfortable allergic reactions. While you can learn a lot by trial and error, getting tested will give you a definitive answer, allowing you to receive proper treatment for your allergies.
Allergy is the 5th leading chronic disease among all ages and the 3rd most common chronic disease among children under 18 years old.
Allergies affect people from the early stages of their life and continue until their late adult ages.
Trends indicate that by 2015, half of all Europeans may be suffering from an allergy.
Class E immunoglobulin (IgE) was first identified in 1964 and plays an important role in Type 1 allergic reactions. Everyone has IgE antibodies in small amounts to protect the body from parasites. However, allergic persons produce IgE in abnormally elevated quantities.
What is allergy?
An allergy is a misguided reaction to foreign substances by the immune system. It is said to be misguided because these foreign substances (called allergens) are generally harmless. A variety of cells play an important role in this type of reaction:
- T-lymphocytes recognize the foreign substances in the body and release chemical cytokines that stimulate the B-lymphocytes
- B-lymphocytes differentiate into plasma cells. These produce immunoglobulin E (IgE-antibody) to destroy the substance
- TH1 and TH2 combat the foreign substances
- Mast cells and basophiles (white blood cells) produce mediator chemicals such as histamine and leukotriene
When stimulated by the appropriate foreign allergen, helper and suppresser cells stimulate B-lymphocytes to transform into Plasma-cells. Plasma-cells secrete antibodies of various classes which circulate in the blood and are responsible for immunity in the humours. If this regulation fails, a B-lymphocyte can also be converted by a normally harmless antigen. These immunoglobulins migrate via the blood stream to the basophiles and mast cells where they are bound to specific receptors within their Fc region. If the organism has further contact with the specific allergen, it migrates directly to the anchored IgE and links two neighbouring molecules with epitopes via the antigen-binding Fc region. This link formation liberates different vasoactive amines from the mast cells, which together with other highly active mediatorscan lead to the typical symptoms of a Type 1 allergic reaction.
The most common allergic conditions include hay fever (allergic rhinitis), asthma, allergic conjunctivitis, allergic eczema, hives (urticaria) and allergic shock (also anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock).
In our laboratory we are able to quantify a range of food and environmental allergens through special Allergy tests (AlleisaScreen), with high reliability and accuracy and specially selected for the Cypriot population.
In cooperation with the German company MEDIWISS Analytic which specializes in this field since 1999 with great success, we have created 3 different programs (panels) especially for Cyprus (CY 1 Food Panel, CY 2 Respiratory Panel, CY 3 Mix Panel) which include 115 food and environmental allergens, covering a wide range of allergies that afflict our people in Cyprus.