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What is atopy, atopic allergy and allergy?
Atopia is genetically conditioned immune system disorders, as evidenced by the occurrence of diseases of this origin in members of the same family. You can say that it is prone to allergies, because not always someone who has a favorable genetic defect has symptoms of atopic allergy. Although the main role is played genetic predisposition, however, its appearance and course have a significant impact environmental factors. The argument for this statement is the number of allergy sufferers has increased rapidly in recent years, which is most likely related to the increasing pollution of the environment and the urban lifestyle. We have genes similar to our grandparents, but there were far fewer people diagnosed with allergies in their generation.
Atopic allergy it is always IgE-dependent, which means that people with atopy have high levels of immunoglobulin E. Atopic inflammation can develop in various organs, therefore atopic may be:
- hives (several% of cases),
- atopic dermatitis (atopic dermatitis; up to 50% of cases) and
- rhinitis, throat, ear or sinus (up to several dozen% of cases).
Allergy is a much broader concept. In addition to atopic allergies associated with the presence of IgE antibodies, there are other allergic mechanisms - cellular allergy, dependent on T cells and a cytotoxic reaction and a reaction against circulating complexes
immune. It should be remembered that a large proportion of allergies are not IgE-dependent (i.e. atopic).
One example of an IgE-independent allergy is skin contact allergy.
Diagnosis of allergies is based primarily on medical history.
There are many reactions possibility of confirming allergies with laboratory tests. Unfortunately, these tests are available in clinical practice only for some IgE-dependent allergies. In the case of contact allergies, it is possible to perform diagnostic tests on the patient's skin (the so-called. patch tests). In very exceptional cases, so-called provocation tests, involving the intentional exposure of a patient to a substance suspected of causing allergies, but only under close medical supervision.
To sum up, atopy is a genetically determined allergy propensity that appears after the so-called allergization, i.e. sensitizing the immune system to an allergen. However, it should be remembered that many people who have had a positive allergic test result do not develop symptoms, while allergy is a disease when the sensitization is clinically manifested in the patient.