Allergy – Frequently Asked Questions

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By Dr. Vivek Patil, Pulmonology

What is an Allergy?

An allergy is body’s abnormally high sensitivity to certain substances resulting in exaggerated reactions in the target organs leading to symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing, runny or blocked nose, cough, breathing difficulty, itching or skin rashes.

What are the most common Allergic Diseases?

The most common allergic diseases are allergic rhinitis, asthmatic bronchitis (ASTHMA), allergic conjunctivitis (eyes), urticaria (hives), allergic dermatitis (skin), and food allergy.

What are the most common Allergens?

The most common allergens include dust mites, moulds (fungi), pollens, animal dander, cockroaches, nuts, spices, milk, and eggs. The house dust mite is the most common cause of allergies.

How are Allergies Diagnosed?

A specialist can diagnose your allergies using allergy skin tests, which show if your immune system reacts disproportionately to specific allergens and the quantum of reactivity can also be known.

Can Allergies develop later in life?

Allergy does not discriminate on the basis of age. Allergic reactions can develop at any time in life whether it is one day, one year, 10 years, 40 years or 60 years of your age.

How are Allergies Treated?

Allergy treatments involve 3 fundamental principles. First, Avoidance of the known allergen. Second, Drug therapy with oral or local medication (nasal sprays or inhalers). Finally, when avoidance and drug therapy fail to adequately control the allergic disease, specific Allergen immunotherapy (desensitisation) is used.

Why long term treatment is advocated?

It is most important to remember that all allergic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis and asthma, are chronic diseases which require long-term management to better control and prevent inflammatory complications.