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Everything You Should Know about Allergies -Allergy Types ,Symptoms and Treatment

Updated on June 4, 2011

What Everybody Should Know About Allergy

Allergy mainly affects three organs of the body- the skin, nose and the lungs.  The allergy that affects the nose is called allergic rhinitis. Statistically 10-15% of the populations are affected by this. 

The enhanced reactions of our body to various kinds of proteins that enter inside is called allergy. House hold dusts are the common cause of allergic rhinitis. Rather than this, smoke, pollens, insects like cockroach, flies and mosquitoes; algae or fungi grown on the damp basements are other allergens. IgE antibody produced by the body, certain white blood cells like eosinophils, chemicals like histamine and leucotrin plays a major role in the formation of allergy.

Symptoms of Allergy

Allergy causes an inflammation inside the mucosal lining of the nose and the patient experiences nasal obstruction, sneezing etc. Recurrent attack of sneezing, nasal discharge, nasal obstruction and itching of the nose are the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Running nose is a common symptom of allergic rhinitis.

Even though the symptoms are not distressing, it will create some sort of discomfort to the patient. Some experiences loss of taste too due to the nasal obstruction. Often this is associated with allergic conjunctivitis causing itching of the eyes, redness and lacrimation of the eyes.

Ears are also affected due to the inflammation of the Eustachian tube which is a canal connecting the ear and nose. Above the nose and on its side there are air filled spaces called sinuses. As a result of allergic rhinitis, the ducts of the sinuses get blocked resulting in formation of pus causing sinusitis. The symptoms of sinusitis include headache and putrid nasal discharge and if not treated well can lead to nasal polyp which is a fleshy mass like structure. Due to this the nasal septum may get deviated either to left or to right known as deviated nasal septum or DNS. Some people think their symptoms are as a result of DNS and do the corrective surgery for it but of no use.

Long standing allergic rhinitis can lead to asthma. It is found that 40% of the people with allergic rhinitis are getting asthma in 5-10 years.

Treatments For Allergy

The treatment is usually done as three stages:

  1. Avoidance of allergens.
  2. Treatment using medicines.
  3. Allergy testing and immunotherapy.

How to Avoid Allergens ?

Keeping the allergens away is a non-pharmacological management. By doing so we can not only decrease the symptoms of allergic rhinitis but also reduce the chances of getting asthma in future.

  • Stay away form dusty environment. Keep our house and premises especially the place where we sleep free from dust.
  • Use gas stove for cooking.
  • Avoid active and passive cigarette smoking.
  • Decrease the use of agarbathies, sprays, powders, mosquito repellants, room fresheners etc.
  • Avoid contact with pets.
  • Cleaning the house and surroundings help us to get rid of bugs and harmful insects.

Medicines and Treatments for Allergy

Treatment using medications is a pharmaco-therapy.  Anti-histamines like citricin and levocitricin are commonly used for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Even though these medicines are harmless comparatively, long continued use of these drugs can cause side effects. Weakness, increased sleep and gain in weight are some of the side effects of these.

Nasal sprays are desirable as the allergic rhinitis affects particularly the nose.  It’s of controversial opinion regarding the use of nasal sprays even for asthma.  Infact the nasal sprays can be used safely even for pregnant women and children.

We can avoid the side effects of medications (ingestion) by using nasal sprays.  Even long continued use of nasal sprays are harmless. But the fact is that we should consult a doctor and follow-up for the changing doses in time.  In acute crises even steroids can be made use of. 

Allergy Testing and Immunotherapy

Allergy testing is the method to detect the specific allergen in individual persons. Immunotherapy is the treatment by which this overreaction to specific allergen by the body is reduced. To attain this, the specific allergen is induced into the body in minute doses in specific intervals. This constant contact with the allergen leads to reduced reactions by the body to that specific allergen and finally non reactive to that allergen.  

In the modern therapy called sublingual immunotherapy, instead of injecting, the medicine is dissolved under the tongue.  There are a lot of merits for this modern therapy.  There is no pain, no need of injection, don’t want to go anywhere to take injection, and no reactions after injection.  In India this therapy got established only recently even though this prevailed in the foreign countries.  Hence, allergic rhinitis which in turn can lead to asthma can be effectively controlled by this immunotherapy.

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