Introduction to Allergies
Allergies can occur to anyone, anytime. Allergies can affect our daily activities and reduce our quality of lives.
Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a usual harmless substance (known as an allergen). Allergen normally do not cause any issues in most people, however, in allergic individuals, the body’s immune system identifies the allergen as a threat and mount an inappropriate response to it. This is known as an allergic reaction.
What are the Common Types of Allergies?
Allergies can occur in numerous types, affecting various parts of the body. Types of allergies include skin allergy, food allergy, hay fever, allergic rhinitis, eye allergy, insect stings allergies, latex allergy, pet allergies and drug allergies.
Are Allergies in the Genes?
You may notice someone in your family having allergies too. Allergies can be hereditary. Allergies are more common in people with a atopy background, with a positive family and personal history of allergic rhinitis, eczema, and or asthma.
Though allergies are more common in children, it can happen at any age. Allergies can resolve over time, and recur many years later.
How do I know I have Allergies?
Allergies affect various organs of our body.
In the skin, one commonly presents with itchy, red swelling particularly over the gravity dependent region such as the mouth, lips, eyes, and may have rashes that appear nettled-like (hives) or eczema.
In the respiratory tract, one can develop sneezing, itchy runny nose, cough, wheezing or even breathlessness.
In the gastrointestinal tract, one can develop symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, cramps or diarrhea.
In severe conditions, one may develop a full blown allergic reaction that potentially be dangerous. One may present with acute difficulty in breathing, wheezing, throat swelling, lip and mouth swelling, eyes swelling, rashes and a drop in blood pressure. This tends to occur within minutes to hours after exposure to allergen. This condition is known as anaphylaxis. You should seek medical assistance immediately in such dire situation, and it is advisable to carry emergency adrenalin pen for standby use.
How can I Treat Allergies?
Often, identifying and avoiding offending allergens that causes allergic symptoms are effective. Having said that, there are times when allergens are unavoidable as part and parcel of our lives. The use of medical therapies and having an emergency action plan for severe allergic reactions are important.
Medications that are useful against allergies include antihistamines, decongestions and corticosteroids. These medications are used to alleviate allergic symptoms.
Immunotherapy is a preventive strategy for certain types of allergies. It works by allowing your body to be acclimatized and de-sensitized towards an allergy. This is performed by gradual introduction of allergic substance in an increasing dose into a person via oral, sublingual (under-tongue tablets or spray) or injection shots. Immunotherapy is particularly useful in allergies against dust mites, certain insect stings allergies, grass pollens.
Speak to your doctor if you have concerns of allergies!