Allergology is the branch of medicine that deals with preventing, treating and diagnosing allergies, which is the set of reactions that the body puts in place when it comes into contact with specific foreign substances called ” allergens .”
Allergies now affect about a quarter of the population of the Western world and the incidence seems to be constantly increasing: some epidemiological studies identify air pollution as an influential factor , which favors the increase in the permanence of pollen in the air and an increase in respiratory allergic diseases, such as rhinopathies, urticaria, and asthma .
A bit of history
The term “allergy” (from the Greek words allos , which means “other”, and ergon which means “work”) was coined by the Viennese doctor Clemens von Pirquet , who in 1906 introduced it to indicate a altered reaction of the organism to the administration of certain molecules. However, today only a particular type of hypersensitivity reaction is defined as “allergy”, namely type I or immediate(according to the classification introduced in 1963 by Gell and Coombs), having been discovered new types of reactions of the immune system involving different cellular and subcellular mediators. It was only in the 1960s that the biological and chemical-physical characteristics of the molecules actually involved in allergic processes were precisely identified: immunoglobulins E or IgE . These are antibodies that physiologically have the task of preventing certain types of infections such as helminthiasis, identifying and binding cell fragments of pathogens foreign to the body. In allergic reactions they mistakenly recognize harmless molecules (such as pollen) as dangerous), thus triggering a reaction that can manifest itself with more or less severe symptoms, up to anaphylactic shock . In 1986, cytokines were subsequently discovered , small protein molecules capable of stimulating or blocking the release of IgE by the cells of the immune system: in particular, the discovery of interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interferon γ was fundamental. (IFN- γ), which respectively favor and inhibit the synthesis of IgE.
path The training path to obtain the title of Allergologist includes a degree in Medicine and Surgery, and the subsequent specialization in Allergology and Immunology. The discipline is further divided into several specialist areas, including:
- Classical immunology , which deals with the relationship between the body, pathogens and immunity.
- Clinical immunology , which deals with the study of diseases of the immune system or caused by a functional alteration of this (such as AIDS and autoimmune diseases such as SLE or rheumatoid arthritis) and rejection following transplants.
- Immunotherapy , which involves the use of components of the immune system to treat a disorder or disease, such as cancer.
- Diagnostic immunology , which involves the use of antibodies to identify various molecules (as long as they are immunogenic) both for research and for the actual diagnosis (ELISA test, immunoblotting, tests for the search for drugs, microbes or to distinguish the various blood groups).
- Evolutionary immunology , which consists of the study of the evolution of the immune system in living and extinct species.
associations Some industry associations are the Italian Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology ( SIAIC ), the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology ( EAACI ), and the Italian Society of Professional and Environmental Allergological Dermatology ( SIDAPA ).
Services generally offered by allergists
- Ecg holter
- Patch test
- Prick test foods
- Prick test inhalants
- Drug allergy test
- Pediatric allergy visit
- Food intolerance test
- Doppler ultrasound
- Ozone therapy
Disorders and pathologies generally treated by allergists
- Celiac disease
- Rheumatic diseases