World Allergy Day Celebrated
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08 July 2011
World Allergy Day is celebrated on July 8 every year. Allergy is a common ailment which spreads more in the months of July and August as the weather is humid and hot.
“Allergy is an exaggerated reaction by our immune system when the body comes in contact with certain foreign substances. It is exaggerated because these foreign substances are usually seen by the body as harmless and no response occurs in non-allergic people,“ said Dr S K Katiyar, former principal of GSVM Medical College.
Though in most of the cases people take allergies lightly but sometimes the ailment becomes serious.
Allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur due to normally harmless environmental substances known as allergens like pollen grains, fungus, dust etc. These reactions are acquired, predictable and rapid, Dr Katiyar added.
Allergy is one of four forms of hypersensitivity which is characterised by excessive activation of certain white blood cells called mast cells and by a type of antibody known as IGE. It results in an extreme inflammatory response. Common allergic reactions include eczema, hives, hay fever, asthma attacks, food allergies and reactions to the venom of stinging insects such as wasps, bees, cockroaches etc.
However, mild allergies like hay fever are highly prevalent in the human population and cause symptoms such as allergic conjunctivitis, itchiness and running nose. Whereas rhinitis, sinusitis, pharylgitis and laryngitis are the basic allergies related to ENT (ear, nose and throat).
Allergies can play a major role in conditions such as asthma. In some people, severe allergies to environmental or dietary allergens or to medication may result in life-threatening hypersensitive reactions too, said Dr M J Gupta, TB, chest and allergy specialist.
Allergies can develop at any age, possibly even in the womb. These ailments commonly occur in children but may give rise to symptoms for the first time in adulthood. Asthma may persist in adults while nasal allergies tend to decline in old age.
Doctors advise not to take any dizziness, etching and hypersensation lightly as it can be a type of allergy. Allergic people should not be treated as untouchables as allergy is not a communicable disease.
Allergy is a spontaneous or heredity disease, hence it cannot be transmitted from one person to another by any close contact, said Dr Raj Tilak, a paediatrician.
He added that allergy cannot be cured but can be treated and controlled.
There are various tests to diagnose allergic infections which includes testing the skin for responses to known allergens, analysing the blood for the presence and levels of allergen-specific (IGE) etc. Treatments for allergies include allergen avoidance, use of anti-histamines, steroids or other oral medications, immunotherapy to desensitise the response to allergen and targeted therapy, said Dr Katiyar.
Allergy involves an exaggerated response of the immune system
The immune system is the body's organised defence mechanism against foreign bodies, particularly infections
Allergens are substances that are foreign to the body and can cause an allergic reaction
Allergy test is also known as IGE test
Though allergies can develop at any age but in most of the cases it is hereditary
Types of allergies and symptoms
Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
Nasal itching (rubbing)
Itchy ears and throat
Shortness of breath
Allergic eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
Redness under the lids and of the whole eye
Watery, itchy eyes
Swelling of the membranes
Allergic eczema (atopic dermatitis)
Itching, redness and dryness of skin
Rashes on the face, especially among children
Rashes around the eyes, in the elbow and behind the knees, especially in older children and adults (rashes can be on the trunk of the body)
Hives (urticaria) or skin reactions
Raised red welts
Allergic shock (anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock
Hives or reddish discolouration of the skin
Swelling of the throat
Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting
Shortness of breath, wheezing
Low blood pressure or shock