April 30, 2013


By Julie Suchanek, MBA, MT (ASCP)
Metropolitan Medical Laboratory

What is an allergy?

An allergy is a heightened reaction (or “sensitivity”) to a substance or substances (allergens) that are normally harmless. Allergens in the air (such as pollen, mold, dust mites and pet dander) are known as respiratory allergens. These allergens can trigger a variety of symptoms – including sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy watery eyes.

Allergens may also trigger an asthma attack in a person with both asthma and allergies, which is called allergic asthma. Studies show that 60 percent of adults with asthma and up to 90 percent of children with asthma have allergic triggers. If left untreated, this combination could permanently damage your delicate airways. You may not even know this is occurring, because your symptoms may appear to be under control.

Can I be allergic to more than one thing?

Most patients are sensitive to more than one allergen. For these patients, symptoms may appear only when they are exposed to two or more allergic triggers at once. Patients with multiple allergic sensitivities may not have symptoms until their total exposure to allergens pushes them above the symptom threshold. Management of multiple allergies includes reducing exposure to your allergic triggers.

How can I find out if I have allergies?

Ask your healthcare professional to order an ImmunoCAP® blood test. If you’re allergic, your blood contains an antibody called IgE. The ImmunoCAP® blood test measures the amount of IgE in your blood. With just one blood specimen, a laboratory can provide your healthcare professional with your individual allergy fingerprint. This fingerprint can be used to personalize a special treatment plan just for your asthma or allergy symptoms. This could include medications and tips to help you reduce exposure to your specific allergic triggers.

It’s important to be tested. If you are allergic, and you try to guess your allergic triggers, you may guess incorrectly. Each person has a unique set of sensitivities that causes symptoms, and not all of them are obvious. Welcome, springtime! Hello, allergies!

Metropolitan Medical Laboratory, PLC is one of the largest accredited laboratories in the states of Illinois and Iowa, and has provided this community with quality laboratory services for 99 years. Visit www.metromedlab.com. Tell your doctor, “I want my lab tests to go to Metro.”