How do you know you have allergies?
Allergic diseases include allergic rhinitis, asthma, food allergy, atopic eczema, food allergy and anaphylaxis.
Allergy occurs when there is a specific inappropriate immune response to harmless substance (allergens). Common allergens include dust mites, certain food and pollen.
All allergic reactions develop in 2 stages:
1. Sensitisation: Individual is first exposed to the allergen
Subsequent exposure of the same allergen to the
2. Elicitation: sensitised individual show clinical manifestation.
SYMPTOMS OF ALLERGY
Runny and Itching nose, repeated sneezing and nasal congestion
Red, itchy lesions on the skin, particularly affecting the skin folds of knees and elbows
White itchy bumps that look and feel like insect bites
Wheezing, difficulty in breathing, cough or respiratory disturbance when sleeping or with physical exertion
Itchy and watery eyes, often accompanied by a stinging sensation
Skin prick tests (SPT) and IgE blood testing are diagnostic tools used to determine what individuals are allergic to.
Usually painless and are performed by putting a drop of each suspected allergen extract with a micro-needle on the forearm.
IgE blood testing
A sample of the patient’s blood is sent to a laboratory for analysis of IgE concentrations against different allergens.
The treatment options available are:
The most common treatment for allergies is medication. Antihistamines and or corticosteroids are often prescribed to control symptoms and improve patient’s quality of life. Avoiding allergens is another option but can be challenging especially if allergens are found in the air e.g. dust mites.
However, avoidance and medication do not target the root of the problem, unlike immunotherapy.
Immunotherapies are the only "cure" to allergy because it treats the root of the problem. It is aimed by desensitizing the body towards the specific allergen that is causing the allergic reaction. Over time, it modifies the body's allergic response to the allergen.
SLIT is a form of immunotherapy that is administered via under the tongue. This treatment is suitable for both younger children as well as adults and it is proven to be very safe and efficacious. Over time, patients will be desensitized to the allergen and build up the tolerance. The recommended duration of these therapies is 3 – 5 years and can maintain its beneficial effects for years after the discontinuation of the treatment.