Friday, 13 January 2012


What is allergy?
Allergy is the body’s reaction to certain substances (allergen) that brings about symptoms of itchiness, rash and swelling. The symptoms are commonly mild but rarely can be life threatening (anaphylaxis). Allergic reaction is unique to each person. Conditions such as asthma, frequent upper respiratory tract infection, nasal polyps, eczema are commonly associated with allergy.  

Risk of developing allergy
The development of allergy is a complex interaction of genetic factors and environmental factors. The increasing rise of pollution has been associated with increased risk of developing allergies. Family history of allergies will also put a person at risk. On the other hand, breastfeeding has been associated with reduced incidence of developing allergies.

Diagnosis of allergies
A full history of allergy is obtained to ascertain the diagnosis. Diagnostic tests which can help to determine the allergens include skin prick test, contact patch testing and RAST blood test.

Allergic rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is one of the manifestations of allergy. The main symptoms are stuffy blocked nose, sneezing, runny nose and itchiness. The itchiness can also affect the eyes. It is commonly associated with asthma. Patients often notice that the asthma symptoms improve when there is better control of rhinitis symptoms. Common triggering factors (allergens) include house dust mite, cockroaches, pet dander, mould and certain seafood.

Treatment of allergic rhinitis
First and foremost is AVOIDANCE. Avoiding the triggering factors will ensure better control of allergy symptoms. However some patients require medical treatment depending on the severity of the symptoms. Treatment which may be suggested by your doctor would include antihistamines and nasal sprays. The response to treatment should be closely monitored.

How to get rid of house dust mites?
House dust mites are everywhere especially in mattresses, pillows, carpets and upholstered furniture. It thrives in humid environment and warm temperatures. They are too small to be seen with the naked eye and feed on dead human shedded skin.

Suggested ways to get rid of them:
·         Use allergy proof mattress and pillow encasings
·         Wash sheets, pillows, blankets, soft toys once a week in hot water and dry in a clothes dryer
·         Vacuum regularly with vacuum cleaners with HEPA filter
·         Dust furniture with damn cloth

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