Proteins and Allergies – Why do they matter?

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

Proteins and Allergies: Why do they matter? What do proteins have to do with allergies? Most people believe that the cause of an allergic reaction is always the whole allergen itself. Such as, the entire peanut or egg. The reality is a bit more complicated. To truly understand an allergic reaction, you have to understand the role of proteins. Pinpointing the exact source of an allergic reaction can change the approach taken to manage an allergy. How? Let’s find out. All living things, think animals, food, plants, are made up of many proteins. For some people, an allergic reaction could be caused by just one specific protein within the whole allergen. Others are triggered by an allergy to multiple proteins within the whole allergen. But how do you know which proteins are triggering a reaction? There are two types of blood tests that could help get to the bottom of it. A blood test using whole allergens, can help to rule allergy in or out. In other words, it can help determine which allergens are more likely the cause of your symptoms. Is it a birch allergy? Probably yes. It is a milk allergy? Probably not. On the other hand, a test using allergen components gets into the details. This test can pinpoint down to the molecular level. Which proteins may be triggering allergic reactions? Cool, right? Knowing which protein may be causing the reaction, could help determine the likelihood of having a systemic reaction, or a mild reaction due to cross-reactivity. This is all good to know, but why is it important? How can this change the approach to allergy management? Glad you asked. For some allergies such as eggs, milk and peanuts, identifying the specific proteins behind an allergy could influence choices you make in your everyday life. Did you know that some proteins present in eggs and milk, can change shape under periods of intense heat? If you have a with allergen components and find one of these shape changing proteins may be behind the allergy, this could mean that cookies, brownies, or whatever else has baked milk or egg, is no longer off limits. An allergist may then choose to perform an oral food challenge, during which you eat baked egg or milk products while being monitored in an office under supervision. Now let’s talk about peanuts. Being diagnosed with a peanut allergy can be daunting. Current research indicates that allergies to specific peanut proteins, could mean the body will respond with a systemic reaction such as anaphylaxis upon exposure to a peanut. However, a more mild reaction or no reaction at all, may occur if a sensitization stems from other proteins in peanuts. Knowing which peanut proteins the body is sensitized to could change your approach to trigger management. And provide some peace of mind. Life is complicated. Allergies don’t have to be. Learn more about the proteins and allergens and how testing with allergen components can help provide answers at

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