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

Allergy and hay fever

WHAT IS ALLERGY?

Allergies is an overreaction of the immune system to a particular substance, known as an allergen. The most common allergens are pollen, mold, dust mites, animal dander, latex, and insect venom (as bees).

WHAT IS ALLERGIC RHINITIS?

Allergic rhinitis is a condition in which allergies results in inflammation of the lining of the nose. The symptoms may resemble those of the common cold, but they are not caused by viral infection (as the common cold is). Allergic rhinitis may be during certain season (seasonal) or all year-round (perennial).  The severity of allergic rhinitis may be mild or moderate/severe.

WHAT IS SEASONAL ALLERGIC RHINITIS?

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (INTERMITTENT), or hay fever, is caused by allergy to pollen from flowers, grass, weeds, or trees. It may cause sudden and frequent attacks of sneezing with nasal discharge, and congestion. These symptoms may be accompanied with eye symptoms, as stinging, watering, itchy eyes, and conjunctivitis.

Seasonal allergy typically develops in childhood, it is not unusual to develop it as an adult. In fact, the average age to develop this seasonal allergic rhinitis is about 15 years.

WHAT IS PERENNIAL or (PERSISTENT) ALLERGIC RHINITIS?

Perennial or persistent allergic rhinitis is a hypersensitivity reaction to allergens like dust mites, animal dander or fungal spores.

SYMPTOMS OF AN ALLERGY

  1. Cold-like symptoms

Sneezing and a runny nose may be the first sign of both a common cold and an allergy attack. But unlike the common cold and influenza, the allergies are not caused by a viral infection. Common cold symptoms may vary as it may last for a few days up to two weeks according to severity of infection. If symptoms persist for longer time, they may be because of an allergy or you may need to ask your doctor for advice.

Allergies and common cold can be distinguished from other serious viral infections, like influenza, by lack of high fever, severe fatigue and colored mucous, cold or flu.

  1. Timing and recurrence of Irritation

To determine the cause, The timing of symptoms may help. Allergy, unlike viral infection cause persistent symptoms that recur in certain conditions. like hay fever which happens frequently in spring due to the increase of pollen count in air.

THE SYMPTOMS OF HAYFEVER

Hay fever appears mostly due to airborne pollens and allergens that make their way into your respiratory system, nasal passage or eyes and triggers immune response that led to inflammation of the area causing hay fever symptoms.

Several symptoms may indicate that you are suffering from hay fever allergy. They include:

  1. Frequent sneezing, nasal congestion, or runny nose.
  2. Red, itchy or watery eyes
  3. Itchy throat
  4. Irritated skin
  5. Rash and localized swellings which is known as hives

WHAT IS POLLEN (allergen)?

Pollen is a very fine powder produced by different types of plants, used to fertilize other plants from the same species. Flowering plants produce small amounts of pollen which are distributed by birds, flies, or bees from one plant to another. Other plants rely on the wind to disperse their pollen grains. These kinds of plants can cause pollen allergies (which is known as Hay fever or Allergic Rhinitis) in people.

HOW CAN A POLLEN ALLERGY BE DIAGNOSED?

Your doctor will ask about your medical history, physical examination and review your symptoms in order to diagnose your condition. Also, there are skin allergy tests done to diagnose which allergen is responsible for your symptoms.

HOW TO MANAGE SPRING POLLEN ALLERGIES?

  • Check forecast before going outside, to know if pollen count is high or not.
  • Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses.
  • If you have plants, avoid the kinds that are pollinated by wind and use types that are pollinated by birds like the flowering plants.
  • Splash your eyes with cold water several times a day to flush out any pollen.
  • Apply Vaseline smear or something similar into your nose to protect them from irritation due to contact with pollen.
  • Keep your windows closed at home and in the car and depend on air conditioning.
  • Take an antihistamine allergy medication such as Levohistam® to control allergic symptoms as: sneezing, itchy eyes and other frustrating symptoms of hay fever.

HOW to TREAT HAYFEVER

Levohistam® is a 3rd generation non-drowsy antihistamine that reduce the symptoms of hay fever allergies. For persistent or severe hay fever, you may need a nasal steroid spray, in addition to an antihistamine treatment, your doctor or the pharmacist can help you with this.

If your symptoms are not being relieved by your current treatment, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for other options that may better suit your needs.

HOW to TREAT HAYFEVER WHEN PREGNANT?

Always ask your doctor for advice if you are pregnant to describe what is best for you and suits your circumstances.

IS LIFESTYLE AFFECTING ALLERGIES?

Certain lifestyles including diet, physical activities, stress, quality of sleep can affect your allergy, its incidence and severity. Avoiding allergy triggers is very important in managing symptoms.

REFERENCES

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare