Did you ever notice any sudden change in your skin or eyes? Have you ever had an irritated bowel due to the consumption of some food? If yes, then these are the signs that you suffered from some kind of allergy. Well, allergies most probably aren’t serious but few could be. Let us briefly run through what allergies are, why they occur, and when to see an immunologist (allergist) so that you can understand what is triggering an allergy in you.
What Are Allergies?
Allergies simply mean your body is irritated by some external organism and your body is trying to save you by using the antibodies present in it. Usually, allergy is the result of your immune system reacting to invaders or foreign substances like bee venom, pollen, pet dander, or for that instance any food substance that your body isn’t able to take in. All allergy reactions are the direct outcome of the body’s combat against allergens.
What Does An Immunologist Do?
Most times such allergies go away on their own when the body comes to normalcy and the invaders subdue, however, not all the allergies go away on their own and this is the time we need to see an immunologist cure from the allergens. But who is an immunologist and what he does?
Well, he/she is also called an allergist and is a doctor who specializes in curing and treating allergies, respiratory disorders, asthma and other disorders related to the immune system.
Usually, an immunologist is responsible to manage every condition and symptom that is related to the immunity. Below are a few conditions that directly connate some allergen entry and the reaction of the immune system to it wherein the immunologists come into action to understand and cure them;
- Seasonal allergies — Also known as allergic rhinitis
- Food allergies
- Allergic conjunctivitis (inflammation around eyes)
- Anaphylaxis (breathing difficulty, may lead to death)
- Atopic dermatitis (itchy and red skin rashes)
- Urticaria or hives (red, itchy welts)
- Eosinophilic esophagitis (inflammation in food tube)
- Primary immunodeficiency diseases (immune cells or proteins either get absent or malfunction)
- Autoinflammatory syndromes (voluntary inflammation caused due to a hyperactive immune response)
These are the conditions that allergist/immunologists are capable to treat also they can chose to treat or research other subspecialties such as;
- Autoimmune diseases
- General or transplant surgeries
- Infectious diseases
- Cancer treatment (oncology)
How Do Immunologists Treat?
Same like any other healthcare professional they carry an array of tests to identify the triggers and treat them.
Clinical immunologists work directly with patients. In the primary visit he/she reviews the patient’s medical history to know current symptoms & medications, previous treatments, medical history of the family and reaction to environment toxins.
Soon after collecting required information an allergist could further suggest 1 or multiple tests such as patch tests, skin prick tests, antibody tests, T cell tests and so on to know the cause of allergy.
Treatments For Allergies/Immune Diseases
These differ widely based on the condition and includes;
- Topical corticosteroids, antihistamines and over-the-counter decongestants for negligible environmental allergies
- Corticosteroid ointments and creams for allergic skin conditions
- Epinephrine injections for systemic allergies that are severe
- Stem cell transplantation or immunoglobulin replacement for diseases caused due to primary immunodeficiency
- Antibiotics to check chronic infections
Reasons To See An Immunologist
There could be multiple reasons for a person to visit an immunologist but when you face the below mentioned common health conditions don’t neglect visiting an allergist.
- When you have allergies such as running nose, itchy, red and swollen eyes and any type of skin & digestive allergies
- Recurring vomits & weakness
- Suffering from asthma
- Chronic sinus infection
- Having hives (welts)
- Having primary immunodeficiency disease (PPID)
When To See An Immunologist?
The straight answer to see an immunologist is, when you face any allergic reaction or you’re frequently falling ill. If you feel you’re suffering from any of the above-mentioned allergies it is better to visit an immunologist at the quickest time possible without negligence.
Difference Between Immunologist & Rheumatologist
Although both immunologist and rheumatologist treat health conditions that trigger due to some allergic reaction of the immune system there’s a small difference. Immunologists treat immunodeficiency and systemic allergic conditions while a rheumatologist treats autoimmune diseases besides other musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia and constant pain.
People should contact or meet an allergist/immunologist if they have an allergic reaction or more prone to frequent, recurring infections. Rheumatologists can help diagnose and treat people who have autoimmune diseases or chronic muscle or joint pain.
Since now you know what is allergy and also the difference between an allergist and rheumatologist figuring out when to see an immunologist and rheumatologist would be easy for you.
Sudheendra is a passionate blogger for 8 years and holds a Degree in Journalism & Mass Communications. His writings particularly focus on health, medicine, diet & lifestyle. For him, everything that interlinks and relates to health & medical world entices him. His write-ups aim at educating people not by just giving facts but by infusing human touch.