Clearing the air about allergies
Written by: Galina Pembroke
According to the International Labor Organization, 43% of Czech citizens complain of occasional allergies. When triggered, allergic symptoms can cause hay fever, eczema, migraines and asthma. These are aggravating at best and disabling at worse. How do we stop them? Knowledge is our best weapon.
ALLERGIES ARE a sign of a maladaptive immune system. Normally our immune system is protective, responding to genuine threats to our health. The person with allergies, however, has trigger-happy immunity. Their extra-sensitive immune system fires off with little prodding, causing cellular inflammation. Classic allergy symptoms include runny nose, watery eyes and coughing, which occur as your body attempts to wash away the unwanted substance.
Allergies are genetic. If both your parents have allergies, your chance of suffering is between 50% and 70%. If only one sibling has this problem, you’re at risk, altough your likelihood of allergy drops to between 25% and 50%. Even an absence of family allergies doesn’t mean we can breathe easy – there is still a 10% to 15% chance of being affected.
The temptation during this skin and sniffling stress is to self-diagnose and then self-treat. But this may do more harm than good. Why? Some conditions mimic allergies. For example, sinusitis – a cold-type condition – causes headaches and nasal discharge, which resemble hay fever. However, taking antihistamines for sinusitis (as one would for an allergy) will only cause congestion and prolong our pain. Since subtleties, such as the thickness and color of mucus are key in diagnosing allergies, it’s essential to see a physician for accurate diagnosis and care. Otherwise, you can easily make yourself worse instead of better. Natural practitioners and their treatments, such as food restriction, may also be risky. When it comes to health, natural isn’t always best. Many unhealthy things grow from the ground, as anyone whose ever eaten a poisonous mushroom and survived will tell you!
Though medical treatment is best left to a physician, knowledge of our options will enable us to participate in and speed healing. Allergy shots, or immunotherapy, were once the most popular option. By introducing our system to progressively larger doses of what ails us, immunotherapy desensitizes our body. However, as this can take years, this medication is most suitable for people with moderate to severe allergies. Thankfully, modern living lets the majority of us with seasonal sniffles access a variety of safe, quick fix medicines. Antihistamines such as Claritine and Tellfast block histamine, which is a central mediator in the allergic response. These relieve the symptoms of hives (Urticaria) hayfever such as sneezing, itchy/watery red eyes and runny nose. Telfast D also includes a decongestant. These are tempting to rely on, but if used too often or long, decongestants can increase our symptoms.
In some cases, we don’t have to rely only on treating ourselves; we can also “medicate” our environment. This is crucial, since the inflammation caused by one allergy sensitizes us to other potential allergens. Identifying and reducing common home allergens is a safe, healthy way to minimize the likelihood of allergic reaction. Controlling certain allergens is a higher priority than others are. According to the UK’s Leicester Branch of the Midlands Asthma and Allergy Research Association (MAARA): “House dust mites are the cause of most asthma, nasal allergy and some eczema.” Since these tick-related menaces thrive in high humidity, a dehumidifier helps keep their population under control. In addition, MAARA recommends dust-proof bedding covers, replacing cloth-upholstered furniture and damp-dusting instead of vacuuming. In addition, the following techniques will help reduce our symptoms:
· Smoke reduction: Smoking cigarettes releases hazardous gases that aggravate allergies. Reducing this irritant improves allergy symptoms, as well as the overall health of yourself and those sharing your home.
· Carpet control: If you have allergies, you may prefer to live carpet-free. Despite daily vacuuming, many dust mites will stick around, adhering to carpets through suction pads on their legs.
· Plant management: Mould thrives in dark, damp places. Even if we don’t contact this fungus directly, it still affects us. Its spores are carried through the air on windy days. Air cleaners are helpful in removing these spores