Allergies and asthma are fast becoming common health problems. Millions of Australians have asthma, hay fever or other allergy-related conditions.
Do I Really need an Allergist?
Defining when an allergy is enough of a concern to see an allergist is a decision you must take. Many mild cases of hay fever, for example, are controllable with over-the-counter medication. However, when an allergy imposes itself to a point where it interferes with your everyday activities, or work and is starting to affect your quality of life, it is time to seek out the advice of a professional, as some allergies can prove fatal.
GETTING RELIEF AND HELP
A professional allergist will also be able to help diagnose and treat asthma patients. They have been trained to understand what triggers an asthmatic attack. An allergist is there not only to treat the patient but also to identify and help prevent allergy issues.
In essence an allergist specialises in diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
What is the Definition of an allergy?
The body is a remarkable creation, able to defend itself against innumerable bacteria and viruses we encounter in everyday life. The body however sometimes does not know the distinction between what is a potentially harmful bacteria that needs to be fought off or something that is an everyday occurrence such as dust or mould, in these cases the body expends unnecessary defensive energies to seek and destroy these harmless substances. In the case of an allergy sufferer, this is a prime example of where they suffer as a consequence.
There are thousands of bacteria we all encounter on a daily basis that can trigger an allergic reaction. These are called ‘Allergens’ here are some prime examples:
- Animals (pets)
- Bird feathers
- Everyday chemicals
- And there are many more
How do you Develop Allergies?
Allergies and asthma do not discriminate, regardless of gender, age or race.
Although patterns of asthma start more commonly in children, it can happen to anyone at any age. Asthma can seem to have gone away and suddenly re-appear later in life.
At this stage, science has not identified specific factors relating to genetics, but there is a tendency to lean towards there being some form of a hereditary pattern. Asthma and allergies can be, but medical science has not been able to fully determine the extent.
Many environmental factors can be taken into consideration, not just allergens we encounter on a daily basis but even hormones and stress can play a major part, a very difficult factor to measure.
Common Types of Allergies
Our immune system is set up in a way whereby our immune cells are situated on our skin and the inside of our throat, sinuses, lungs, stomach, nose and eyes. These are the most common areas for allergic reactions, and so when we swallow, touch or inhale, this is our first line of defence.
Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis)
Pollen and outdoor moulds are the trigger for what is commonly known as hay fever. The symptoms include intense itching of the nose and eyes, sometimes swelling of the eyes, sneezing and nasal discharge. The most common time of year for these are spring and summer. For someone who suffers from hay fever out of these seasons, means they have a heightened sensitivity to common pathogens and bacteria such as mites or household dust, moulds and pet hairs, many suffer from air conditioning in the office space due to it being a concealed environment.
In an asthma attack, airway muscles retract, causing your bronchial tubes to swell, becoming narrow, whilst creating mucus, it’s the mucus that makes breathing difficult. The scale of suffering from asthma goes from mild to potentially life-threatening depending on each case.
Eczema and Dermatitis Skin Allergies
These skin conditions can be somewhat of an enigma to the medical community. What we do know is the causation can be various allergens that we come into contact with on a daily basis. The cause can be a reaction to other medication, animals, foods, liquids, an insect bite or sting, also washing powder or detergent amongst other things. Where it becomes difficult to diagnose is it can also be aggravated by stress and emotion; extremely difficult to gauge in medical terms.
Is not a common allergy but for those who have it, it can prove fatal. It can collectively affect multiple areas and nodes in the body sending a person into shock. This also has a wide range of possible causes ranging from insect bites and stings to a peanut allergy which has come to the forefront of the medical community’s attention in the recent past.
An Anaphylactic can endure:
- Breathing difficulties
- Blood pressure fluctuation
- Swelling, especially in the throat
- Potential loss of consciousness
An Anaphylactic find themselves in a similar situation to many people with epilepsy whereby, the symptoms can start with very little notice and worsen rapidly.
Is it Time to seek Professional Help?
Over time many people get used to their allergies and find a way of dealing with them and managing them on a day-to-basis. Unbeknown to them, a professional allergist will help them to not only treat their allergy(s) but assess and recommend ways to prevent them, leading to a better quality of life; however, this takes time and planning.
An allergist will want to gather as much thorough information from you to devise an individual treatment plan as everybody is different in these cases, but with the end goal of you being symptom-free.
To begin the allergist will need to decipher what allergens are causing the reactions.
The allergist will act as an educator as well to help you identify the triggers in your everyday life that are the cause of the issues. Of course, we cannot wholly avoid common pathogens or allergens but creating awareness of the triggers is a significant step forward in prevention instead of cure.
In recent years new medication has become available for both asthma and allergies. Immunotherapy is administered in injection and oral form.
A rising scale of shots over a controlled period has proven to be effective, with patients being treated every two weeks or so and over time the immune system grows stronger and slowly the allergic reaction fades. Immunotherapy is proven to be effective for things such as mites, dust and pollens. An allergist will administer the first dose, but subsequently, most patients will be put on an oral course at home.
A quick checklist of if you should seek professional allergists help:
- Hay fever symptoms throughout the year not seasonal
- Antihistamines over-the-counter are not effective and even creating side-effects such as drowsiness
- Chronic sinus congestion
- Breathing difficulties
- Short of breath after any form of exercise
- Wheezing or coughing when you have no symptoms of a cold, especially if this comes on at night
- If you are an asthmatic and the medication you are taking is not stopping ∙frequent attacks
There are many qualified allergist specialists in Australia. Typically allergists and immunologists go through education at a college or university followed by a minimum of four years of medical school resulting in a doctor of medicine (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO) degree.
If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above seek out a professional allergist in your area and start the road to getting your life back to normality.
Paul Johnson is a freelance writer with over 16 years’ experience in writing about health and fitness, and general well-being, is currently working as an author for Merridy Casson posting regularly about Allergist Adelaide.