What is the reason for allergies?
- Allergies tend to run in families due to genetic factors.
- Exposure to tobacco or pollution also seems to be a risk factor
- Allergens can be common household things like pet hair or pollen
- Certain foods like peanuts, shellfish or dairy products can also act as allergens for some people
What are the symptoms of allergies?
- The symptoms of an allergy are generally according to the part that has been exposed to the allergen, like the eyes, skin, nose, throat, lungs and the gut.
- Hay fever occurs when the air passages react to pollens or hay. The person might develop sneezing, a runny nose and even wheezing from the chest.
- Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when the sensitive outer cover of the eye, called the conjunctiva, comes in contact with allergens, like pollen. The eyes become red, watery, swollen and itchy.
- Eczema is a condition where the skin of the affected person shows signs of allergy, like itching, redness and dryness.
- Lactose intolerance due to an allergy to dairy products shows up as a heavy sensation and bloating in the abdomen. There might be abdominal cramps and even diarrhea.
- A severe form of allergy, called anaphylaxis, can occur in some allergic people. This condition is a medical emergency and there is difficulty in breathing and a drop of blood pressure.
How to manage allergies?
- If there is something specific that you know you are allergic to, then it would be best to avoid that. This can be helpful if you are allergic to something in your diet, like eggs, or certain drugs.
- For most people, it helps if the house is kept free from dust.
- Avoid woolen carpets as these collect fibres
- Keep pets well-groomed
- Using an air purifier might help with this.
- If pollens are an issue, wearing a face mask might help while going outdoors.
When to meet your doctor?
If your allergies are interfering in your daily activities, it would be best to consult your doctor.The doctor will take a detailed history of your lifestyle habits which might help to pinpoint the allergen. Certain tests, called sensitivity tests, can be done to find out if there’s something specific that you are allergic to.
- Your doctor might decide to give you anti-allergic medicines, called anti hitaminics. These medicines help to suppress the body’s immune response to allergies. Drugs like avil, cetirizine, loratadine and many others help in combating allergies. Some of these medicines are sedating, so do check with your doctor before starting these medicines.
- People who are prone to repeated allergies might benefit from medicines that help to reduce recurrences. A group pf drugs, called mast cell stabilizers, are used for this, and they are meant to be taken regularly and not just when the bout of allergy occurs.
- If the doctor feels that you might be at risk for anaphylaxis, you might be prescribed an Epipen which contains adrenaline injection. It is a life-saving drug and you will be trained in its use.
Allergies are a common issue these days, but with some basic precautions, it’s possible to manage them and maintain a healthy lifestyle. We recommend a doctor’s advice before starting any treatment regime.