What are allergies?
I bet you have heard someone say, “I react to dust”. Allergies are the body’s exaggerated immune response to normally harmless substances. They can affect the skin, nose, eyes, breathing tubes, stomach. These substances are called triggers/allergens. Common allergens include pollen, house dust mites, fur, smoke and some foods. A large number of people have allergies and you may be an unknowing victim!
How can I know if I have allergies?
- Nasal allergies cause sneezing, runny nose, red, itchy eyes, and the feeling of something dripping at the back of your throat. This can be mistaken for common cold. It’s commonly experienced during cold, dry weather, like harmattan and winter or inhaling triggers.
- Developing rashes following contact with a specific substance, for example a piece of jewelry, is seen in allergic dermatitis.
- Allergy to foods is often characterized by stomach upsets, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. But it affects other body systems, for example, the skin.
- In asthma, which is really the unusual reaction of the breathing tubes to certain triggers, there is shortness of breath, feeling of the throat or chest tightening. The airway becomes blocked and makes breathing difficult.
- Anaphylaxis is a life threatening immune reaction as the airway becomes blocked. It requires hospital admission and expert care.
The first and most important step in treatment is AVOIDing the triggers. There are more specific tests available to identify particular allergens.
Do you have frequent, bothersome colds? Have you experienced something similar to an asthma attack before? Do you think your child might be reacting to something around you? Maybe you already know what your allergies are. TELL us all about it.