Allergies: Health facts you should know


An allergy is the body’s immune response to a foreign substance such as dust, pollen, food or fur. Allergies can decrease the quality of life. It can disrupt work and lead to missed school days. Allergies can develop into chronic cases with symptoms present throughout the year. Therefore, effective solutions are needed to put a stop to symptoms caused due to allergies. If you are in Singapore, then The ENT Clinic is a renowned practice if you have concerns about allergies.

What are some of the common allergies causing agents?

There could be seasonal allergies or chronic allergies present around the year. The seasonal allergies include ones brought about by pollens and grass. These kinds of seasonal allergies can trigger hay fever, causing inflammation and swelling of the lining of the nose. Other allergens include dust mites, mold, animal dander, certain foods and animal stings.

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?

The common symptoms include watery eyes and nose, nasal congestion, sneezing and itchiness. Certain individuals may also have asthmatic symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing and tightening of the chest. Symptoms which need emergency intervention include having difficulty in breathing, generalized itching, redness in face, anxiety, rapid pulse, dizziness and a drop in blood pressure. If left unattended, it can cause a life-threatening situation. This is the reason to have a patient’s allergy symptoms reviewed by an ENT specialist.

Can allergies be prevented?

Preventing an allergic reaction is possible when an individual does not come into contact with the allergen. For example, a person who has an allergy to peanuts, develops the allergy when he or she accidentally consumes it. The severity of the allergy can vary from one person to the other. However, at most times, allergies caused by seasonal allergens are difficult to avoid. Hence, it is important to have an effective treatment method to curb symptoms.

Household air borne allergens can be reduced through frequent cleaning. This will help to reduce any exposure to dust mites or pet dander. The bedsheets and coverings must be changed regularly. Children’s toys must be regularly wiped and flooring must be cleaned and carpets replaced when needed. The house interiors must be kept dry. Damp areas must be ventilated and dehumidified.

How are allergies diagnosed?

There are many ways by which an otolaryngologist would confirm that you have an allergy. The most commonly used method is a skin test. The skin test can give an accurate result in a very short time. The scratch test is very commonly used by doctors. In this test procedure, small amounts of allergens are used on the back of the arm. This generally includes a panel of the common environmental allergens. Some ENT doctors would use a needle tip to enter the allergen underneath the skin. If a red lump appears at a certain spot, it means that an individual is allergic to that compound. To ease any itching the doctor will apply some cream which should go away in half an hour or so.

Blood Tests: Your doctor may also do a blood test to check to see if you have an elevation of the immunoglobulins in blood due to an allergic reaction. To determine this, the specialist will draw a blood sample and send it to the laboratory where the test results will be available in a few days.

Oral Food Challenge Test: If there is a suspicion that the allergy is caused due to a certain type of food, then the doctor may want to do an oral food challenge. This test is done in the presence of an allergist where small amounts of that food is given, while the individual is observed to see if any symptoms develop. If there are no symptoms, then larger portions of food are given, and the test is stopped when symptoms occur. The usual signs are hives or a flushed feeling

What are the treatments for allergies?

There are many ways to treat an allergy. The best way, however, is immunotherapy, if one needs a permanent solution.

Medications: ENT doctors prescribe medications to reduce allergic symptoms. There are over-the-counter medications too given by pharmacists to suppress the symptoms. Some of the common medications include antihistamines and decongestants. There are also nasal steroid sprays to reduce nasal irritation. Inhaled bronchodilators and injected medications like omalizumab helps to control symptoms too.

Emergency Epinephrine: A severe allergy occurring instantaneously needs administration of  epinephrine shots. This helps to reduce symptoms till emergency treatment is sought.

Immunotherapy: When allergy symptoms are not controlled adequately, immunotherapy is sought as a permanent solution. This is a treatment option where one is given a series of purified allergen extracts in a dose accelerating manner to build lasting immunity. In some cases, drugs are administered under the tongue for rapid absorption for individuals who have pollen allergies. Immunotherapy is seen to be effective for individuals who have allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma too.

Saline irrigation: Nasal irritation brought by allergies can be eased through saline irrigation. The saline helps to rinse out allergens and decrease inflammation which causes it.

Can Allergies Cause Complications?

Persons who have nasal allergies have a higher risk of developing respiratory tract infections. Chronic cases of allergy can lead to sinus infections, ear infections, and even lung infections. Recurrent allergies may also cause one to develop nasal polyps and migraines.

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