Allergy is Sensitivity
Allergies are a type of immune system response, called hypersensitivity reactions, which entail an acquired susceptibility towards an otherwise harmless substance, such as certain foods, scents, dust, pollen, fur, and drug particles, etc. The most prevailing type of allergy in Pakistan is that towards pollen, however, there are many different types. Let’s explore some examples.
1- Pollen Allergy: This type of allergy is a reaction towards pollen inhalation, which causes swelling and redness in the nostrils and eyes. Runny nose, itching in eyes, watery nose and eyes are also clear indications of pollen allergy.
2- Food Allergy: Individuals can also be allergic to certain foods including some types of seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, dairy products etc. If you consume this food while being allergic, you may experience shortness of breath, tightness of chest, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
3- Dust Allergy: Dust allergy is similar to pollen allergy, due to the alike nature of the particle causing the reaction, and so the symptoms and indicators are also comparable.
4- Scent Allergy: Some people are allergic and sensitive to the components of some perfumes or scents. The impacts of scent allergy can be respiratory or on the skin, and symptoms include headaches, nausea, itching, redness, and/or a burning sensation.
5- Dust Mite Allergy: Dust mites are microscopic size bugs which live in dust inside houses. Signs of this allergy include sneezing, runny nose, as well as asthma symptoms like difficulty in breathing and wheezing.
6- Drug Allergy: This type of allergy can be caused by any drug, for example herbal, over the counter or prescription. Symptoms indicating a drug allergy include itchiness, red bumps, fever, or rashes, and occurs after intake.
What are the main symptoms indicating an allergic reaction?
General symptoms for any allergy are as follows:
- Irritation and redness of eyes
- Stomach pain
- Itchy, red bumps
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose
- Swelling of eyes
- Inflammation and swelling of the nose
What tests are done to diagnose allergies?
There are three most successful and commonly performed tests for allergies which include:
1- Skin Tests: These are performed by pricking or scratching small areas of the outer skin layer, and applying an allergen. This test is also called scratch test.
2- Blood Tests: A blood sample is collected directly from the veins to detect the IgE antibody which is allergen specific.
3- Patch Tests: In this type of testing, a substance is applied onto the skin, and if the body is allergic to the applied substance, it will react by causing contact dermatitis, and therefore indicate an allergy.
Treatment with Pharmaceutical Drugs:
There are several medicines that can be used for preventing and curing allergic reactions. However, please note that any and all medicines should only be used with prior permission of doctors and pharmacists.
Some of the main and most commonly medications that are used for allergies are as follows:
- Antihistamines (Cetirizine, Diphenhydramine, Loratadine, etc.)
- Mast cells stabilizers (Desloratadine, Cromoglicic acid, etc.)
- Anti-inflammatory drugs (Famotidine/ibuprofen)
- Leukotriene Inhibitors (Zafirlukast, Montelukast, etc.)
- Immunomodulators (Omalizumab)
- Decongestants (Oxymetazoline, Phenylephrine, etc.)
- Epinephrine (Adrenaline injections: for severe allergic reactions)
Treatment with Therapies:
With advancement of medicine, there are more and more ways of treating a disease or preventing it. Nowadays, Immunotherapy is widely used to prevent or treat allergies.
Immunotherapy enhances an individual’s tolerance or endurance for the specific allergen to which a patient is allergic. Immunotherapy is also referred to as Allergen immunotherapy or Allergy shots and is a long-term treatment. This treatment is performed by exposing a person to the allergens in higher amounts to increase their tolerance towards it.
There are two types of allergen immunotherapy, namely:
1- Epicutaneous Immunotherapy
2- Oral Immunotherapy
Epicutaneous Immunotherapy: This therapy involves the procedure of applying allergens repeatedly onto the skin, thus increasing skin tolerance for that allergen.
Oral Immunotherapy: Oral Immunotherapy increases endurance for the food or food component to which the individual is allergic.
Note that these therapies should be strictly performed by licensed doctors only.
Remedies for Allergies:
There are several effective remedies which have been used for ages to relieve allergies, which include:
- Keep your nostrils irrigated and moist by applying saline, oil, or petroleum jelly inside and around the nostrils. This will trap allergens and not let them go inside and cause allergies.
- Eat papaya and pineapples in abundance when suffering from allergy because these two fruits contain an enzyme called Bromelain which reduces swelling, improves breathing and fastens the healing process.
- Consume a diet rich in probiotics as these relieve runny noses.
- Honey is extremely effective when it comes to coping with an allergic reaction. Take a tablespoon full of honey in lukewarm water and drink it daily.
- Vitamin C rich fruits like oranges, lime, strawberry, cranberry, kiwi etc., reduce levels of histamine, which in return reduces the frequency and symptoms of allergic reactions.
- Many essential oils relieve allergy symptoms well and help in preventing allergic reactions. For example, eucalyptus oil is an antimicrobial, so adding drops of it in bath water before showering, can help in preventing allergy symptoms. Additionally, peppermint oil is anti-inflammatory and reduces symptoms of allergies.
Note that essential oils can also be diffused in air, just remember to not ever apply them directly onto the skin. Always dilute essential oils in carrier oils, such as olive and almond oil, before applying onto the skin.
What precautions need to be taken to avoid allergies?
Allergies can be prevented by taking certain precautions. These include:
- First of all, try avoiding allergens as much as possible.
- Always take your anti-allergy medications as prescribed by doctors.
- Have complete information about your allergy.
- Keep your medicines with you all the time.
- Cleanse your nostrils and take shower daily or when you come from allergen- exposed areas.
- Wear a mask when going out.
- Keep yourself hydrated.
- Have warm fluids.
- Have steam daily two times a day with cardamom and cinnamon water. (If you do not have a fever).
To conclude, here’s what you need to remember … !
First, get any necessary tests done to identify the specific allergen. Then, take your anti allergies as prescribed by the doctor.
Chew some mint leaves daily in the morning, to cleanse the blood and improve symptoms of allergies. But do not follow this remedy if you are allergic to any component of the mint.
Verdict: Do not ever go for any medication, remedy, or therapy without seeking advice from your doctor and pharmacist. Keep yourself aware with all the information about your allergy and how to cope up with it.