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Allergology and immunology

Allergology and clinic immunology

Allergology and clinical immunology focus on disorders related to allergies, immunodeficiencies, and autoimmune diseases.

Allergology

Allergology deals with preventing, diagnosing, and treating allergies, which are conditions characterized by hypersensitivity to particular substances. Allergic reactions are triggered by an abnormal immune system response to certain substances, called allergens, which are harmless to the majority of the population.

Allergens can come into contact with the patient’s body in various ways, triggering a variety of conditions.

The main types of allergies

    • Respiratory allergy: It is the response to substances that come into contact with the body through breathing and are absorbed by the mucous membranes. The most common inhaled allergens are caused by pollen, molds, dust mites, and some animals.
    • Food allergy: The most common food allergens are cow’s milk, peanuts, eggs, shellfish, and wheat.
    • Drug allergy: The drugs most frequently triggering allergic reactions are antibiotics from the penicillin family and some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Contact allergy:: A predominantly dermatological reaction triggered by contact with certain substances. The most common allergens are latex, nickel, chromium, or paraphenylenediamine.
  • Insect sting allergy: Allergic reactions caused by the venom of stinging insects belonging to the Hymenoptera family, such as bees, wasps, and hornets.

The allergist visit and in-depth testing

The specialist gathers as much information as possible about the patient’s medical history and lifestyle to investigate whether symptoms such as difficulty breathing, itchy eyes, stuffy nose, hives, dermatitis, eczema, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal problems, may be caused by allergies. Subsequently, they perform in-depth tests such as skin prick tests (immediate reading percutaneous tests), patch tests (delayed reading epicutaneous tests), or specific blood tests (RAST tests, immunoglobulin E, etc.).

If obstructive bronchial diseases such as asthma are suspected, the patient may be referred to a pulmonologist for further investigation and spirometry testing. Once a specific allergy is confirmed, the specialist will prescribe the most appropriate therapy to treat it and monitor the patient’s progress over time.

Clinical Immunology

Autoimmune diseases are caused by abnormal functioning of the immune system, which, instead of defending the body against pathogens, attacks its own cells. Clinical immunology studies the physiological functions and pathologies of the immune system, particularly:

  • The defense mechanisms of organisms against the invasion of foreign agents (viruses, bacteria, or other substances), especially the production of antibodies and their action.
  • The pathologies of the immune system, such as primary immunodeficiencies (caused by genetic defects) or acquired ones.
  • Autoimmune diseases are those in which the immune system attacks components of its own organism. Hypersensitivity disorders are those in which the immune system responds dysfunctionally to harmless agents (such as allergies).
  • Autoimmune diseases are complex and require a multidisciplinary approach, especially due to multiorgan involvement. The specialists most involved include rheumatologists, nephrologists, gastroenterologists, endocrinologists, and diabetologists.

Reference specialists

Dott-Simona-Bruschi-scaled
Dott.ssa
Pediatrician

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