Allergology is a branch of medicine, the main specificity of which is the study of various allergic reactions and diseases arising from them. In addition, this area specializes in the study of the causes that influence the occurrence of such reactions, the principles of their development, including various methods of diagnosis and treatment of diseases, as well as their prevention.
An allergist is a specialist whose activities are aimed directly at the diagnosis of allergic diseases, their treatment and prevention of occurrence. What exactly does this specialist treat? What therapeutic methods does he use in his work? When should you see an allergist? All this can be found in this article.
What is the activity of an allergist doctor aimed at
The activity of a qualified allergist is aimed at identifying the causes of various allergic reactions and diseases developing against them, which can manifest themselves in the form of a variety of symptoms. It can be both harmless redness on the skin, and severe allergic manifestations, such as Quincke's edema or anaphylactic shock.
that all allergic reactions, regardless of their manifestation, have the same nature of occurrence.
It consists in the increased sensitivity of the body to external allergens. In the normal state, these substances are completely safe and harmless, and in the case of allergies, they are the causative agents of severe conditions, or allergens that cause irritant responses from the body's immune system.
What happens when such substances enter the body of a person who is allergic or hypersensitive to them?
In this case, the immune system sees the allergen as a threat and tries its best to get rid of it. The result of this is the production at the cellular level of special substances - histamines, an excessive amount of which provokes the occurrence of instant and strong reactions.
Once an allergy occurs, it haunts a sick person for the rest of his life. In addition, allergic reactions in this case can be caused not necessarily by the same allergen, but also by others similar to the original source in structure and origin.
There are also cases when the occurrence of an allergic reaction was caused by completely different irritants.
What diseases are within the competence of an allergist
An allergist treats, diagnoses and prevents the following diseases:
- allergic conjunctivitis and rhinitis (this is an inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose and eyes caused by various allergens);
- allergic seasonal rhinoconjunctivitis (aka pollinosis or hay fever. It manifests itself in the form of inflammation of the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose, accompanied by dermatitis and various nervous reactions);
- atopic dermatitis - a disease often manifested in childhood and has a genetic predisposition (characterized by acute itching, rash, dry skin and their thickening);
- acute and chronic urticaria (the disease is manifested by the appearance of a blistering rash on the skin, redness, swelling and itching);
- bronchial asthma is an allergic disease of the lower respiratory tract, which is characterized by: the presence of bronchospasm, swelling of the mucous membrane of the bronchioles, increased production of mucus;
- angioedema or Quincke's edema (in this disease there is severe swelling of the connective tissues of the neck, face, genital organs. Its clinical signs are: puffiness of the lips, eyelids, neck, earlobes, labia and scrotum. Sometimes the upper torso is also affected, the most dangerous type of which is swelling of the neck, which leads to a significant narrowing of the airways and requires surgery or the help of an anesthesiologist );
- allergic contact dermatitis (a disease characterized by the presence of skin reactions directly at the site of contact with the allergen: reddening of the integument, swelling, the appearance of vesicles with their subsequent bursting);
- anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock - an allergic condition caused by a large release of histamines in response to the penetration of an allergen (this severe reaction develops instantly - within a few minutes after contact with an irritant. In severe cases, it is characterized by severe bronchospasm and a sharp decrease in blood pressure (without immediate appropriate therapy, death in such conditions occurs within minutes);
- food, insect, drug allergy;
- gynecological, urological and viral diseases.
An allergist is also responsible for diseases such as furunculosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, mycotic lesions, and various other inadequate reactions of the body to food, insect bites or medicines.
What symptoms require consultation with an allergist
At the first signs of illness or allergic reactions, it is urgent to visit an allergist.
Symptoms indicating the development of this process include:
- nasal congestion, sneezing, feeling itching in the nasal cavity;
- chronic rhinitis;
- inappropriate response to flowering grasses or trees, runny nose at certain times of the year;
- the occurrence of shortness of breath, a feeling of lack of air, respiratory spasms;
- rashes on the skin accompanied by severe itching;
- tearing and eye redness, photosensitivity.
In addition, often allergic reactions can cause sleep disturbances, insomnia, severe fatigue, poor performance, headaches, constant relapses of chronic diseases.
Appointment with an allergist, diagnosis of diseases
Appointment with an allergist, as a rule, includes: interviewing and examining the patient, clinical studies to identify allergies and prescribing appropriate treatment.
When a patient is carefully questioned, based on his answers, the doctor already outlines a preliminary picture of the diagnosis, which is subsequently confirmed by examination and laboratory tests. Inspection is carried out when there are external signs of allergies.
In the case of difficulty breathing, spasms of the airways or anaphylactic shock, treatment is prescribed after a quick examination, as in some cases every minute counts.
The nature and localization of the rash can tell quite a lot about the disease that has arisen, and, first of all, distinguish infectious pathology from allergic manifestations.
In addition, to visualize the full clinical picture of the disease, the allergist can also feel the lymph nodes, examine the condition of unaffected skin areas, assess the condition and work of other internal organs.
Additional clinical examinations, which may be ordered by an allergist specialist, are as follows:
- cytological examination of scrapings from the tonsils and auditory openings, to detect fungal infections;
- blood test for total IgE - immunoglobulin E;
- microscopic examination of sputum;
- PCR diagnostics;
- skin, challenge and elimination tests;
- blood cultures;
- tests for specific antibodies to allergens;
- performing a scarification test, princ testing.
Other laboratory tests may be required on a case-by-case basis
- computed tomography;
- Ultrasound of the heart;
- general and biochemical analysis of blood ;
- Ultrasound of internal organs;
- tumor markers;
Methods of treatment of allergic diseases
Currently, the treatment of allergic diseases is carried out in three ways: pharmacotherapy, elimination therapy and antigen-specific immunotherapy.
Elimination therapy is based on a complete break in the patient's contact with a possible allergen. This technique is mainly used in acute allergic attacks, when urgent treatment is needed.
Pharmacotherapy is also used in the acute and subacute periods of allergy, and in the period of exacerbation of chronic diseases. In addition, the drug treatment method is used in advance, for example, before the flowering of plants begins to prevent hay fever.
Methods of antigen-specific immunotherapy include: desensitization, hyposensitization, allergy vaccination.
These methods are based on increasing the tolerance of the immune system to the allergen, by introducing it in scanty dosages into the patient's body and then gradually increasing the doses.
When using antigen-specific immunotherapy, there are certain risks of severe allergic reactions, therefore, such treatment is carried out exclusively in a hospital under strict medical supervision.
Immunology and allergology are very close fields of medicine, but they are far from the same. Allergology is one of the branches of immunology that studies the body's hypersensitivity reactions to various external stimuli. Immunology also includes autoimmune disorders, immunodeficiency syndromes and other diseases.
However, the doctor immunologist and the doctor allergist are specialists in both of these disciplines, therefore, when referring to a specialist, you should not choose between an allergist or an immunologist, since they have a close specialization.
An allergist is a specialist who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of allergic diseases caused by various external stimuli - allergens. Some body reactions to such irritants may be insignificant, while others, if not treated in a timely manner, lead to death in a matter of minutes.
That is why it is extremely important at the first sign of an allergy or inappropriate reactions to various types of irritants to contact a qualified allergist-immunologist who will help diagnose and prescribe appropriate treatment. It should also be noted that a timely appeal to a good specialist and the immediate start of therapy for allergic diseases allows you to get rid of them forever.