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Learning objectives

By the end of this chapter, participants will be able to:

  • list the tests available to support allergy diagnosis
  • know what guidelines recommend for allergy diagnosis
  • recall the main concepts and applications of molecular allergology that can be used to support clinical diagnosis of allergy.

A brief introduction to allergy

  • Allergy is an adverse immunological hypersensitivity to harmless foreign substances that can lead to several types of disease.1
    • These triggering foreign substances, mostly proteins, are called allergens and can be found in various tissues, particles, foods and organisms.2
  • Manifestations of allergy range from relatively mild symptoms, including urticaria, wheezing and sneezing, to severe and life-threatening symptoms, including anaphylaxis.1
  • The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) has called for improvements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of allergy.3

Burden of disease3

Allergy is the most common chronic disease in Europe.
150 million EU citizens suffer from chronic allergic diseases and, by 2025, more than 50% of all Europeans will suffer from allergy.

  • There is wide variation across Europe in terms of allergy services provided and access to specialised healthcare professionals.
  • Around half of all identified allergy patients in Europe are managed in primary care, but there are recognised variations in the level of training received.
  • Allergies should not be underestimated, especially where there is risk of anaphylaxis; they hold the potential to impact significantly on quality of life, education performance, career progression and personal development.
  • Further, estimates for the avoidable indirect costs of failure to properly treat allergy in the EU are in the range of €55–151 billion every year.
  • With proper treatment, which relies on an accurate diagnosis, an estimated €142 billion per year could be saved.

How does allergy develop?4–6

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