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Department of

Asthma and Allergy

In the urban world, changing climates and lifestyles have led to an increase in individuals with allergies. You could be allergic to something because of your genes or the environment around you. An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system and the environment interact. Advances in the medical world have allowed the team at Reliance Hospital to diagnose and treat allergies better.

Allergy Triggers

Foreign particles or agents like dust, latex, fungi, pollen, drugs, or even certain types of food can trigger an abnormal reaction in your body causing an allergy

Some other common allergy triggers or allergens are:

  • Airborne allergens—animal dander, dust mites and mould
  • Outdoor or indoor pollution
  • Food-peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs and milk
  • Insect stings—from a wasp or bee
  • Medication-penicillin-based antibiotics or penicillin

Other materials you sometimes touch can also cause allergic skin reactions.

Allergic Reactions

If you are prone to allergies, then when you come into contact with an allergen, like dust, an allergic reaction will take place. This begins when the dust enters your body and triggers an antibody response. The mechanism behind this involves a part of your immune system called immunoglobulin E antibodies. These antibodies bind to the dust, and then to a receptor on special cells in your body called mast cells. This activates the release of histamine or inflammatory chemicals. This results in swelling and inflammation which can be excruciatingly uncomfortable and irritating.

Your medical history plays an important role in diagnosis and skin or blood tests can useful in some cases.

You Could Be At Risk Of Developing An Allergy If:

  • You are a child
  • Your have asthma or another allergic condition
  • You have a family history of asthma, hives, hay fever, eczema or other allergies

Children have a higher tendency to develop allergies than adults and boys more than girls. Although for some allergies, like asthma in young adults, girls are more likely to be affected. In adulthood the differences between the sexes decrease.

Some types of allergies can cause a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. Your body can even go into shock. Signs of this are extreme shortness of breath, weak or rapid pulse, blood pressure decrease, loss of consciousness, skin rash, light-headedness, and vomiting or nausea. Inform your doctor immediately if you are experiencing hives, rashes, itchy throat and difficulty in breathing.

Common symptoms of allergies are:

Hay fever or rhinitis: watery, red or swollen eyes (conjunctivitis), runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy nose, eyes or roof of the mouth.

Food allergy: anaphylaxis, tingly feeling in your mouth, swollen lips, tongue, face or throat, or hives.

Insect-sting allergy: coughing, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath, itching or hives all over the body, a large area of swelling (oedema) at the sting site and anaphylaxis.

Drug allergy: itchy skin, rash, facial swelling, anaphylaxis, wheezing, and hives.

Eczema or atopic dermatitis (allergic skin condition): itchy, red, scaly or peeling off skin and anaphylaxis.

Our Treatment Options for Allergies

Treatments for allergies include avoiding known allergens like dust /food/ occupational allergies.

Apart from this we also treat allergic patients using the following methods:

  • Early exposure, in utero and first year after birth, to potential allergens may protect you from developing allergies in the future.
  • Breast feeding prevents allergy formation in childhood.
  • The use of medications such as steroids and antihistamines, like montelukast, may be needed. Drowsiness is a potential side effect of antihistamines. Inhalers may be needed as for asthma. In severe reactions epinephrine, a form of adrenaline which can be injected, is recommended.

Allergen Immunotherapy is handy for certain kinds of allergies like hay fever and insect bite reactions. This gradually exposes people to larger and larger amounts of allergen, but its use to treat food allergies is uncertain. It can be given in the form of immunotherapy drops or subcutaneous immunotherapy injections with allergen content in the drops or injection.

The right treatment is decided in consultation with our doctors and follow-up visits are used to decide the best suitable course for individual patients.