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An allergy is the response of the body's immune system to normally harmless substances, such as pollens, foods, and house dust mite. Whilst in most people these substances (allergens) pose no problem, in allergic individuals their immune system identifies them as a’ threat’ and produces an inappropriate response.
Allergies are hypersensitive immune responses to normally harmless substances, such as pollens, foods, and house dust mite that either enter or come in contact with the body.
A substance that causes an allergic reaction is called an "allergen". Allergens can be found in food, drinks or the environment. Most allergens are harmless, in allergic individuals their immune system identifies them as a’ threat’ and produces an inappropriate response.
If you are allergic to a substance, such as pollen, your immune system reacts to it as if it were a pathogen (a foreign harmful substance), and tries to destroy it.
What is Causing Your Allergy?
Allergic reactions are caused by substances in the environment known as allergens. Almost anything can be an allergen for someone. Proteins are organic substances which contain hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, and form an important part of all living organisms. There are also found in food, along with fats, carbohydrates and other substances. However, only proteins can cause true allergic reactions.
The most common causes of allergic reactions are:
pollen from trees and grasses
proteins secreted from house dust mites
foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk and eggs
pets such as cats and dogs, and other furry or hairy animals such as horses, rabbits and guinea pigs
insects such as wasps and bees
medicines (these may cause reactions by binding to proteins in the blood, which then trigger the reaction)
Common symptoms associated with allergic conditions include:
nettle rash / hives
itchy eyes, ears, lips throat and mouth
shortness of breath
sickness, vomiting &diarrhoea
increase in nasal and airway secretions
There are a number of ways to diagnose an allergy.
The doctor will ask the patient questions regarding the allergy symptoms, when they occur, how often and what seems to cause them, family history of allergies, and whether other household members (who might not be relatives) have allergies.
Below are some examples of allergy tests that our facility is offering: Skin prick test - also known as puncture testing or prick testing. SPT is the most common allergy test performed in our clinic by specially trained staff. SPT is a simple, safe and quick test, providing results within 15-20 minutes. This will enable you to receive a diagnosis and management plan at your appointment.
The skin is pricked with a small amount of a possible allergen. If there is a skin reaction - itchy, red and swollen skin - it may mean there is an allergy.
It can help to confirm the presence of an allergy to either a food or inhaled substance (allergen).
Blood test - to measures levels of IgE antibodies released by the immune system. The test is carried out on a small sample of blood, usually taken from a vein in the arm in the usual way. The sample is then sent to a laboratory and the results are available in 7 to 14 days.
These tests are particularly useful when skin prick testing is impractical, for example, when the patient has extensive eczema. They may also be used for someone who cannot stop taking anti-histamine medications for any period of time, and so would not be suitable for a skin prick test. Blood tests can also be used to confirm skin prick test results, for example, before a food challenge test in hospital.
The Management of Allergy Allergy Medications
The treatments prescribed for allergy control the symptoms and reactions; they do not cure the condition. However, using treatments as prescribed can show a huge change in a patient’s health, mood and development once the medication or treatment routine is working to control the symptoms.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT)
SLIT is an alternative way to treat allergies without injections. An allergen extract is prepared in drop form, taken by patient in small doses under the tongue for one to two minutes and then swallow it to boost tolerance to the substance and reduce symptoms. The process is repeated from three days a week to as often as daily with recommendations that therapy is continued for three to five years to develop a lasting immunity.
Disclaimer: Medical and health information contained in this website is for health education only and should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition/disease to which your symptoms may be similar. This website should not be used as well to suggest or recommend any treatment for anyone who has these symptoms. You should always consult your doctor regarding any medical advice. (This site is licensed by the Health Advertisement Department at the Ministry of Health under license no. 688-1-9-21-9-2013)