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FAQs on Allergy

What is the incidence of allergy in India as compared to the West?

Approximately 25% of the population in India suffers from one or more allergic diseases. This is certainly a notch behind the Western countries where more than 50% of the population suffers from allergies. The disturbing trend is a tremendous increase in the incidence and severity of allergies all over the world, including India.

Is allergy hereditary?

Allergic diseases can develop at any age and heredity plays a key role in who will develop it. If one parent has an allergic disease, the estimated risk to the child to develop allergies is 25% and to 50% if both parents have allergies. Also the allergic mother is more likely to transfer the disease to the child as compared to an allergic father.

Is there any role of Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Unani or other alternative systems of medicine in allergy/asthma treatment?

Alternative medications are still popular worldwide. These medications have not been subjected to scientific scrutiny, and their effectiveness and safety has not been authentically proven as opposed to scientifically proven and well documented Allopathic treatment for allergies and asthma.

What are antigens?

Antigens are large molecules (usually proteins) on the surface of cells, viruses, fungi, bacteria, and some non–living substances such as toxins, chemicals, drugs, and foreign particles.

What are antibodies?

Antibodies are proteins produced by a type of white blood cells called B Lymphocytes. There are five different classes of antibodies, each of which has a unique structure and function and is listed: IgM, IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG.

What is the difference between allergy and allergic type reactions?

Some people have allergic–type reactions to hot or cold temperatures, sunlight, or other physical stimuli. In some persons, friction (such as rubbing or vigorously stroking the skin) will cause symptoms (dermatographism). The mechanism that causes this is not well understood, but it is possible that minute changes in the chemistry of the skin may occur in response to physical stimuli and some component of this chemical change triggers the allergy.

What are the sites in the body, which can be affected with allergic diseases?

Allergies are seen to affect only a few organs of the body viz. eyes, nose, lungs, skin and the intestines.

How long after exposure to an allergen does an allergic reaction occur?

Allergic reactions commonly occur within seconds or minutes after exposure to the allergen, but some can occur after days or weeks.

What is meant by sensitization?

The first time a person is exposed the reaction may be very mild. This first exposure is called sensitization. With subsequent exposure, the patient experiences a more severe reaction. The type of symptom that develops depends on the specific allergen, that part of the body where exposure occurs, and the way the immune system reacts to the allergen.

Is the appearance of dark circles under the eyes suggestive of allergies?

NO. There is no proven relationship between allergies and dark circles under the eyes.

Are skin tests harmful?

The skin tests are generally not harmful. They may produce a local reaction or itching. The tests should be carried out by health care provider with expertise in this area.

Can the immune system attack ones own body cells?

One’s own body cells have proteins that are antigens (these include a group of antigens called HLA antigens). The immune system learns to see these antigens as “Normal” and does not usually react against them.

Can immunotherapy be continued during pregnancy?

Immunotherapy can be safely administered during pregnancy. The incidence of complications is much higher in pregnant patients who are not given immunotherapy as compared to those who receive it.

How long should immunotherapy be continued for optimal benefits?

The benefits of immunotherapy are seen around six months to one year after initiation. Following this aggressive initiating phase, the patient must be placed on regular maintenance immunotherapy for another four to five years. Immunotherapy has been shown to provide long term benefits.

Are inhalers addictive?

No, inhalers are not addictive. Their regular use does not make you dependent on them. You should judiciously follow the dose of inhalers prescribed to you by your doctor and should never cut down on the dose due to fear of addiction.

Do inhalers damage the lungs?

No, if taken in the appropriate doses, frequency and using the proper technique, as advised by your doctor, there is no fear of any damage to your lungs.

Should inhaled drugs be preferred to oral drugs?

Yes, inhaled drugs are needed in small quantities, are delivered directly to the lungs and have a quick action with minimum side–effects. They are the most convenient, efficient and inexpensive method of drug delivery to asthmatic patients.