Allergy can be defined as an over-reaction of the body’s immune system to foreign substances or pathogens. The body’s immune system attacks itself, and the allergen or allergens causing an allergic reaction, trigger the production of a variety of chemicals – antibodies (immunoglobulin E) and histamine, among others – in abnormal quantities.
Allergies are quite common. Over 30 % of the Indian population suffers from seasonal ear, nose and throat allergies, due to the country’s vast diversity with regard to climate, food habits, flora and fauna.
Seasonal allergens generally enter the body through the respiratory system (nose and mouth), causing an inflammatory reaction to the nasal and throat mucous membranes. Although symptoms may be generally mild, but if ignored, they can get out of control and cause acute respiratory distress, or asthma attack or even anaphylaxis, which could be fatal.
- Runny nose or nasal congestion;
- Excessive sneezing (specially in case of allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever);
- Itchy and watery eyes;
- Sore and scratchy throat;
- Shallow or laboured breathing.
Common allergy triggers and causes:
- Seasonal and weather changes;
- Indoor pollutants:
- dust mites;
- mould and fungus;
- Pet fur;
- carpet fibres;
- Certain foods like spicy food, and beverages like cold drinks, wine or alcohol;
- Strong odours.
The doctor will prescribe anti-histamines to counter the excess histamines produced by the immune system’s over-reaction to allergens, along with decongestants, nasal sprays, and eye/ear drops to ease congestion and breathing, as well as itchiness and redness of eyes. An anti-allergy shot may be required in some cases, and inhaler sprays/ nebulizer to help ease breathing.
- Curtail outdoor activities and avoid grassy areas during season and weather change;
- Avoid carpets, rugs, and dhurries in your home and office surroundings, as they tend to develop mould;
- Keep away from dusting activities;
- Avoid interacting with pets and animals, especially during season change;
- Avoid moisture accumulation and damp walls as they are conducive to the development of mould;
- Wash hands frequently to avoid touching eyes and nose;
- Maintain cleanliness in home, office and nearby surroundings.