What is an allergy?

The human immune system has the task of protecting the human organism from harmful substances. In the case of allergies, the body can no longer distinguish between harmful and harmless substances and simply reacts hypersensitively. If the immune system comes into contact with allergenic substances, it forms antibodies (immunoglobulins) to defend itself. Depending on how pronounced the allergy is, even the smallest amounts of certain substances can be sufficient to cause symptoms and make everyday life difficult for those affected.

What are immunoglobulins?

Immunoglobulins, better known as antibodies, are the protectors of our health. These protein molecules are found in different parts of our body and perform different tasks. They detect toxins, bacteria or viruses, render them harmless and protect our body from them. In the case of allergies, certain immunoglobulins are malfunctioning and are therefore also directed against harmless substances such as pollen, house dust mites and the like.

Antibodies for allergies

In principle, five different classes of antibodies can be distinguished: Immunoglobulin A, Immunoglobulin D, Immunoglobulin G, Immunogloblin M and Immunoglobulin E (IgE). Each one is "trained" for certain pathogens. In the context of allergies one is often confronted with immunoglobulins of class G and E. Immunoglobulin E is responsible for allergic reactions in addition to the defence against, for example, harmful intestinal bacteria. For this reason, a blood test of the IgE value should be carried out in the case of allergies or suspected allergies.

Interview with Prof. Karl-Christian Bergmann

Prof. Dr. Karl-Christian Bergmann is an allergist and chairman of the German Pollen Information Service Foundation. The expert and chairman of the medical igevia advisory board met Dominik Flener (founder of igevia) for an interview.

Topics discussed in the interview

  • What should allergy sufferers pay attention to?
  • When is testing useful?
  • What are the differences between the various testing procedures?

Untreated allergies

It is important to recognise the trigger of the symptoms as early as possible in order to arrive at a sound diagnosis. The majority of those affected do not know their own allergen status, which is why the allergy remains untreated. The symptoms are often not taken seriously and the consequences are underestimated. A steady worsening of the symptoms or chronic diseases such as allergic asthma can be the long-term consequence.

Medically reviewed

This article was checked for medical correctness by Prof. Dr. Karl-Christian Bergmann (Chairman of the German Pollen Information Service Foundation). Prof. Dr. Karl-Christian Bergmann is chairman of the medical igevia advisory board.

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