Rise of Allergy

rise of allergy

Recent studies find that there is increase in the incidence of allergies over the last 25 years which may be described as an “epidemic”, and it is considered now as a major public health problem.

There is not a concrete understanding of why allergies have increased like this in recent times, especially in children. Potential reasons include lifestyle, physical environment, and genetic factors; however, it is likely that allergies occur due to combinations of these factors.

Risk factors are starting to emerge from studies like:

  • Skin exposure to allergens may lead to development of food allergy
  • Loss of function gene mutations (Filaggrin)
  • Delayed introduction of some kinds of foods (e.g., egg and peanut)

Risk factors that have not yet been confirmed in studies:

  • The hygiene hypothesis: this is a theory that assumes that children who have less exposure to infections or contaminations in their infancy will be at an increased risk of allergy.
  • Way of food processing (e.g., roasting some kinds of nuts as opposed to boiling them)
  • Vitamin D deficiency (study links between vitamin D deficiency and developing allergic diseases)

Tips to decrease liability of infant to develop allergy:

  • Breastfeeding for at least 6 months
  • Continue to breastfeed while introducing solid foods starting from 4-6 months.
  • Avoid smoking during pregnancy
  • Avoid passive smoking (exposure to tobacco smoke)
  • There is no evidence that a mother’s diet during pregnancy or during breastfeeding will reduce the risk of developing food allergy or not.

 

Hives

WHAT ARE HIVES OR URTICARIA?

Hives (known as Urticaria) are characterized by circular red, raised, and itchy spots on the surface of the skin. They may appear like mosquito bites, with a red outer rim and a white center.it may occur anywhere on the body, but it is usually found on the torso, arms, throat, and legs. spots may vary in size from small to large. Hives usually disappear within minutes; but they may remain for days or weeks or sometimes longer.

WHAT are the CAUSES OF HIVES?

Hives can arise due to different causes and the most common will be mentioned below, however almost 80% of hives` cases are of unknown reasons

  1. Allergens     

Allergens are responsible for the allergic reaction. They include many things as:

  • Medication as antibiotics, aspirin, and codeine
  • Foods and some kinds of food additives
  • Infections either bacterial, viral, or parasitic
  • Being in contact with plants or animals
  • animal dander, insect venom (as bee and wasp stings) or pollen

The more you are exposed to allergens, the more likely you will develop allergy to them.

  1. Physical and emotional changes

Hives may be triggered by excessive exercise, sweating, exposure to sunlight, hot or cold temperatures and emotional stress.

  1. Disease

Hives can appear as response to presence of antibodies produced by the immune system, as in the case of infection like the common cold.

  • Also hives may be caused by any underlying disorder of the immune system as systemic lupus erythematosus, rubella, and hepatitis

and in this case, it will be chronic.

TREATMENT FOR HIVES

Mild hives may not need treatment and will disappear within few days without treatment. To decrease the symptoms of hives you can:

  • Use a cool compress to the rash site and wear loose cotton clothing.
  • Avoid excessive physical activity and irritation of the affected area.
  • If you know the cause of the hives, try to avoid the causative agents as much as you can.
  • Avoid direct exposure to sunlight, heat and hot showers, as excess heat may exacerbate hives.
  • Moderate hives symptoms may require treatment with an antihistamine medication as Levohistam®.

In case of severe hives, or the rash continues for several days, See your doctor.

If you feel lightheaded or that your throat is swelling or you suffer from difficulty in breathing, Seek emergency medical.

REFERENCES

1 https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/skin-allergy/urticaria-hives

2 https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/hives

Allergy management

HOW TO MANAGE MY ALLERGIES?

  1. Find what causes your symptoms

You can determine what is responsible for your allergy from the time at which allergy starts at appear like eating something or being in certain place and you are exposed to different something or playing with your pet.

But if allergy arises on a continuous basis, your doctor may recommend an allergy test to determine the specific allergy that you have.

Allergy testing may involve scratching or dropping a drop of a purified allergen into skin and checking if there is any sign of allergic reaction.

  1. Avoid the causative factor

The best thing you can do to protect yourself from allergy and its symptoms, is to avoid the allergen once you can determine it.

  1. Treatment of allergy

If your symptoms of allergy are mild to moderate, an antihistamine (link of page of product details) medication such as Levohistam® may be helpful. Antihistamines provide an effective treatment for itchy eyes or nose, sneezing and runny nose. If you develop more severe symptoms, please seek advice from your healthcare provider for further treatment options.

After medication if symptoms persist, talk to your healthcare professional.

HOW TO MINIMISE EXPOSURE TO ALLERGY TRIGGERS?

It may not be possible to avoid the allergens that may cause allergic symptoms all the time, but there are several things you can do to minimise the severity and /or frequency of their symptoms.

Helpful tips for people to reduce their exposure to common allergy triggers, as pollen, dust mites, mould, and animals.

Pollen
  • Check the forecast and try to stay indoors if pollen percentage is high especially in spring.
  • Stay indoors especially on windy days.
  • Pollen levels tend to be higher during early morning, adjust your routine as much as you can.
  • Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses outdoors and splash your eyes frequently with cold water to flush out any pollen.
  • Have regular shower and wash your hair before bed to protect yourself from any suspended pollen and to prevent any allergic symptoms during your sleep.
  • Regular dusting and vacuuming of furniture, floors and carpets can minimise levels of allergens.
  • After washing your bed linen and clothes, dry them indoors when pollen count is high.
  • Close your house windows and your car and depend on air conditioning during pollen season.
Dust mites
  • Use dust‐proof covers for mattresses and pillows.
  • Shower before going to bed.
  • Avoid eating in places where dust mites abound.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water starting from 55°C.
  • Vacuum everything regularly.
  • Keep pets out of your living and your bedroom.
  • Clean floors weekly.
Mould
  • Removing mould that you can see with appropriate cleaners.
  • Make sure that your home is well ventilated.
  • Repair any leaks to avoid humidity and mould growth.
  • Removing pot plants from home (as they promote mould growth).
Animals
  • Keep pets outside the house, and sure out of the bedrooms.
  • Bathe and groom your pets outdoors.
  • Wash your hands after touching or feeding pets.
  • Keep pets away of carpets and rugs.

HOW CAN ALLERGIES BE DIAGNOSED?

Allergy testing may help you to know what you are allergic from. Some lifestyle changes, medications and allergens avoidance will help your symptoms relief.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SEE AN ALLERGY SPECIALIST?

Some allergy problems may not need specialist treatment, as the use of an over‐the‐counter antihistamine medication like Levohistam® can be sufficient. More serious allergies can interfere with day-to-day activities or in some cases may be life threatening. Allergy symptoms usually develop slowly over time, and you may get used to having them, but your doctor can help you to prevent or minimize these symptoms and improve your quality of life.

See an allergy specialist if:

  • You experience hay fever allergic symptoms for several months of the year.
  • Over‐the‐counter antihistamine medicines don’t control your symptoms.
  • Your allergies affect your daily activities.
  • Your allergies result in sinus infections, nasal congestion or breathing difficulty.
  • Serious allergic reactions happen such as wheezing or coughing especially after physical exercise, struggling to catch your breath, or being frequently out of breath.
ALLERGY TESTING

Allergy testing is usually performed when suspected hay fever, or allergic reactions to certain foods and insect venom. When testing for hay fever, substances that usually found inside house as: dust mites, animal dander (as cats, dogs, or horses), mould spores, and pollen from different weeds, grasses and trees.

WHAT HAPPENS IN AN ALLERGY TEST?

Allergy skin tests include 3 types:

  • skin prick tests
  • intradermal tests
  • patch tests
  1. Skin prick test

Skin prick test is the most common allergy test, it’s quick, convenient and its results are usually available within 20 minutes. It is usually used to detect allergies to dust mites, mould, pollen, pet dander, and insect venom.

Prick test involves exposing the skin to different allergens and checking the exposed area for any sign of an allergic reaction. If an allergen causes an allergic reaction in the skin, you will see reddening, swelling or itchy sensation at the spot of exposure, or a raised bump where the substance was applied. The severity of allergy is determined by the size of the swelling. The larger the area of swelling, the higher the sensitivity to the allergen in question.

  1. Intradermal test

It is usually used when insect venom is the suspected allergen. The allergen extract is injected beneath or under the skin and area is observed for 15 to 20 minutes. Intradermal testing is more accurate and it is usually used when the results obtained from skin prick test are inconclusive.

  1. Patch test

Patch testing is indicated for allergic skin irritation, and it detects delayed allergic reactions. It does not require any needles. The allergen is placed on a patch, and then applied to the skin for up to 48 hours. A patch test allows for many kinds of allergens up to 30 allergens to be tested at once, including perfumes, latex, hair dyes, metals and preservatives. After the estimated time, the tested person returns to the doctor who will remove the patches. If skin irritation is noticed at the patch site, this may indicate an allergy.

REFERENCES

https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/living-with-asthma/resources/patients-carers/brochures/asthma-allergy#hcy