Q. What is an Allergy?
Allergies are hypersensitive responses from our immune system to substances that our body comes in contact with. In simpler words, it is an over reaction of our body to otherwise normally harmless substance. A substance that causes an allergic reaction is called an allergen.
Q. What are symptoms of an allergic reaction?
Allergic reactions may occur in the skin, sinuses, airways, eyes, and nasal passages. For example, dust can cause itchy eyes, runny nose, cough. Food allergy can cause vomiting, swelling of the lips, stomach cramps. Insect stings can cause swelling at the site of the sting, wheezing and possible anaphylaxis, which can be life threatening and must be treated as a medical emergency.
Q. What are the common allergens?
Most common allergens are dust mite, pollen grains, wool, animal hair and food products like nuts, corn, shellfish. A research study conducted by KRIMS Hospitals on common allergens in Central India, it was found that 50% of patients from this region had allergy to mite while 20% had allergy to pollen followed by insects, fungus and so on.
Q. How is allergy diagnosed?
An allergy specialist will ask the patient questions regarding symptoms, when they occur, how often and if there is a family history. Accordingly an allergy test will be advised. The useful allergy tests include blood IgE levels, Skin Prick Test and Patch Test.
Q. What is the Treatment?
The most effective treatment of an allergy is avoidance of the allergen. Medications used for treatment include antihistamines, local applications, and Immunotherapy, which is also known as hyposensitization. I advise patients to avoid over the counter drugs and consult an allergy specialist for the proper treatment.
*Nagpur will be hosting the “National Conference on Allergy and Asthma”, organized by Department of Pulmonology on 2nd and 3rd March 2019.