Allergy Season

Here comes the season of sneezes and runny noses! With spring in full swing, pollen allergies are everywhere. Allergies are very common, affecting 1 in 4 people in the UK. They are more common in children and some of them resolve as the child grows older. However, some allergies have far more serious symptoms than sneezing and coughing.

Allergies are the immune system’s “inappropriate” response to specific substances, allergens, usually harmless in most people. Allergens can be categorised into four main categories: ingestants, inhalants, contactants and injectants. Ingestants are allergens found in foods such as peanuts and eggs, or medication like antibiotics. Inhalants refer to allergens that are breathed in, such as mould, pollen, and animal fur. Contactants irritate the skin when they come into direct contact with it, like certain fabrics or dyes. Finally, injectants refer to allergens that penetrate the skin. This includes bug bites and insect venom, but also some medications.


Allergy symptoms can vary in severity. In mild cases, the main symptoms are coughing, sneezing and rashes/hives. However, in more severe cases, allergies can trigger anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening medical emergency where the swelling causes obstruction of airways and can lead to respiratory failure.


Allergy tests are used to evaluate the body’s response to specific allergens. When the immune system is exposed to these allergens, it reacts and produces immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies can be detected even before the onset of symptoms. In fact, this is referred to as IgE sensitisation and it occurs even before fully developing the allergy. When re-exposed to the same allergen, IgEs bind to the surface of mast cells usually found in mucosal tissues and skin. Once the allergen binds to IgE, a rapid immune and memory response is triggered, releasing histamine which in turn leads to the various allergy symptoms.

There are different ways to test for allergies. One of the most common methods involves just a simple blood test. The patient’s blood is collected and sent off to the laboratory for testing. The most used method in the laboratory is enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). This method detects the immune response of the patient using specific IgEs to determine what they are allergic to. EUROIMMUN’s EUROLINE Allergy Test measures the concentration of specific IgEs in the body and gives a semi-quantitative result that can be grouped into 6 different classes. Usually, when a result is in class 3 or above, then this shows a high level of antibodies and tells us that the patient is allergic to a specific substance. There are over 400 allergens included in EUROIMMUN’s Allergy Portfolio and the EUROLINE profiles are available for different geographical regions, covering both inhalation and food allergens. When combined with the overall clinical picture presented by the patient, EUROIMMUN’s EUROLINE proves to be an accurate and advantageous tool in making a proper diagnosis.

Take Home Message

Allergies affect 1 in 4 people in the UK and can have various symptoms ranging in severity. Allergy testing detects common allergens usually consumed or inhaled. Blood tests allow the identification of allergen specific IgE, improving and facilitating the management of the allergy symptoms. Antibody testing combined with a full clinical picture facilitates an accurate diagnosis for allergies.

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