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Auckland DHB Clinical Immunology and Allergy

Public Service, Allergy and Immunology

What is Immunology?

The specialty of Clinical Immunology and Allergy is concerned with managing disorders of the immune system:

1.  ALLERGIES: where there is an excessive immune response to an external or environmental substance such as foods, drugs, pollens, mould spores, animal fur, house mites, latex etc.   Some allergies are very common and some are very rare.  Sometimes an illness may look like an allergy but actually be due to a non-allergic mechanism.   These mechanisms may include chemical and drug effects and emotional factors.  Many allergic disorders are the result of multiple factors.  Disorders routinely seen include ANAPHYLAXIS, URTICARIA AND ANGIOEDEMA, ATOPIC ECZEMA, INSECT STING ALLERGY, ASTHMA, EYE AND NOSE ALLERGIES (RHINO-CONJUNCTIVITIS/HAYFEVER), FOOD ALLERGY AND PSEUDO-FOOD ALLERGY, DRUG ALLERGY AND HYPERSENSITIVITY (INCLUDING ASPIRIN AND PENICILLIN), EXCESSIVE REACTIONS TO PERFUMES AND ODOURS ETC.

2. IMMUNE DEFICIENCY: where the immune system fails to react as well as it should and the person becomes prone to infections of different kinds depending upon what aspect of the immune system is deficient.  Immune deficiency may be present at birth or develop later in life.  Disorders routinely seen include ANY PATIENT WITH A TENDENCY TO RECURRENT OR UNUSUAL INFECTIONS.

3.  AUTO-IMMUNE DISEASES: where the immune system reacts against the tissues of the body rather than confining itself to foreign invaders and threats.  Disorders routinely seen include VASCULITIS, VASCULITIC URTICARIA, SUSPECTED CONNECTIVE TISSUE DISORDERS, AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS.

4.  MISCELLANEOUS: the Department is frequently asked to help decide whether or not a patient's illness is due to an immune disturbance.  Sometimes this is because the patient has symptoms involving many body systems or organs.  The immune system is by its very nature involved with all bodily systems, and disturbances of the immune system commonly cause multisystem disorders.  There are other disorders where questions about the immune system may emerge such as CHRONIC FATIGUE, POST-VIRAL SYNDROME, CHEMICAL SENSITIVITY, GLUTEN SENSITIVITY, MULTIPLE DRUG HYPERSENSITIVITY, PSEUDO-FOOD ALLERGY, PSYCHOSOMATIC OR 'MINDBODY' DISORDERS.

The Immunology Laboratory does a wide range of specialised tests for all these immune disorder categories. 


This page was last updated at 3:04PM on August 12, 2021.