All You Need To Know About Allergies
by Joshua Wong, Senior Patient Care Pharmacist
“Eeew, go away, I’m allergic to you!” – does this sound familiar? A term often used when teasing friends, an allergy is, however, far from a joke.
An allergy is used to describe a group of disorders related to the immune system triggered by harmless environmental substances known as allergens.
What causes an allergy?
Airborne particles such as pollen, dust and cigarette smoke could cause different types of allergic reactions, depending on the areas in contact with these particles.
Common types of allergies affecting people in Singapore
Allergies such as allergic conjunctivitis, allergic rhinitis, asthma, eczema and hives are common in Singapore.
When one’s eyes are affected due to an allergy, he/she may get allergic conjunctivitis, which is characterised by the itching and redness in the eye.
This allergy occurs when allergens enter the nose and the nasal airways get inflamed, resulting in runny nose, sneezing and nose itching. If the allergens reach deeper into the airways, asthma may be triggered.
Asthma refers to the inflammation of the airways which causes the airways to be narrowed. This in turn leads to wheezing, chest tightness and breathing difficulties.
Allergens coming in contact with the skin may lead to an inflammation of the outer layer of the skin, resulting in a condition known as eczema.
A kind of skin rash, hives is commonly triggered by consumed allergens (e.g. peanuts, shellfish) and appears red, raised and itchy.
Here are some steps to help you avoid allergic reactions.
- Avoid allergens as much as possible
- Do a skin patch test or blood test to identify what you are allergic to
- Wear a mask to minimise contact if you are sensitive to airborne allergens
- Do housekeeping regularly to reduce the amount of dust at home
- Avoid pets if you are allergic to materials shed from animals
- Always watch what you eat if you are allergic to certain foods