Allergic Diseases

Usually, our immune system prevents us from becoming ill by reacting to extraneous substances in the body. In the case of allergies, however, our immune system reacts excessively to certain substances in the environment that would usually pose no harm. This reaction can be immediate or delayed and can affect various organ systems in the body. Allergies occur more frequently in women than in men.

In addition to hay fever, allergies to animals, dust mites and foods, the most common allergic diseases include:
- Allergic asthma
- Allergic conjunctivitis
- Eczema such as neurodermatitis, contact allergies and nickel allergies
- Urticaria, or hives (reaction of the skin with welts, itching and redness)
- Angioedema (tissue swelling caused by temporary leakages in the blood vessels)
- Insect venom allergies, for example wasp and bee venom allergies
- Allergies to medication such as penicillin or painkillers

The reason why some people develop allergies and others do not is not yet fully understood. It is presumed that several factors must combine for a person to develop allergies. In addition to a genetic disposition, various other environmental factors can play an important role. The longer and more often a person is exposed to potential allergens, the more likely it becomes for them to develop an allergy towards them. This is especially the case if they have a predisposition to developing allergies. However, scientists have discovered that children who grow up on farms are less likely to suffer from allergies than those who grow up in cities. This means that excessive hygiene can also have adverse effects on the risk of developing allergies.


Allergens that are inhaled mainly cause symptoms in the airways such as a runny nose, sneezing, coughing and watery eyes. These reactions often occur with hay fever, allergies to house dust, cats and dogs. Allergens can also cause an acute asthma attack in patients with allergic asthma.

In the case of allergies to specific foods, itching and swelling can occur in the mouth and throat or on the tongue in addition to problems with digestion, light-headedness or problems with the cardiovascular system.

Skin rashes, welts and eczema as well as a general feeling of being unwell with fatigue and pain in the joints similar to the symptoms of a cold are also typical symptoms of allergic reactions or an intolerance to specific substances. In the worst case, patients can suffer anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal if not treated.


The Outpatient Allergy Clinic at the Department of Dermatology at Universitätsklinikum Erlangen is part of the DZI and offers a wide range of diagnostic and treatment options that are based on many years of experience and the latest scientific findings to diagnose and treat allergic diseases.

Whereas mite-proof covers, known as encasings for bedding and mattresses, can be prescribed for an allergy to dust mites, in the case of allergies to food and medication, we recommend avoiding the allergen if possible.

However, this is not possible all the time in the case of allergies to insect venom, animal hair or pollen. In this case, patients can receive treatment called specific immunotherapy (SIT), also known as hyposensitisation, which involves getting the patient’s body slowly accustomed to the allergen causing the symptoms. Treatment involves regularly administering a continuously increasing dose of the allergen via injection or tablets over a long period of time. This treatment can either reduce allergy symptoms over time or even make them disappear completely.

Success depends on the type of allergy, how long the patient has been suffering from the allergy and other additional factors specific to the patient. Patients can expect freedom from symptoms or a significant improvement in symptoms of around 95% for allergies to insect venom, 80% to 90% for pollen allergies and 70% to 80% for dust allergies.

In addition to standard courses of treatment for allergic diseases, we also offer the latest treatment options as part of clinical trials. 

Do you have any questions on the treatment of allergic diseases? Please feel free to get in touch with us by phone, e-mail or via our contact form.