An allergen is any substance that causes an abnormally vigorous immune response when it enters our body. The allergen cause the immune system to fights off a perceived threat that would otherwise be harmless to the body. An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system which results in the body’s negative reaction towards otherwise innocuous substances like food, common medicines, dust and pollen to name a few.
Allergic responses vary from individual to individual and can range from mildly discomforting to potentially fatal anaphylactic shocks.
There are thousands of allergens that can trigger allergies, but some of the most common include:
- Airborne allergens: dust and pollen.
- Animal dander: material shed from animal skin such as skin cells. Similar to human dandruff.
- Food allergens: shell-fish, dairy products, nuts and/or seeds and gluten, eggs and fish.
- Medications: aspirin and penicillin.
- Insect stings: wasps and bees.
- Plants: grass and stinging nettles.
- Substances: Latex.
- Skin rashes
- Red itchy eyes
- Asthma attacks
- Abdominal pain and vomiting
- Avoiding exposure to allergens that you react to is the most basic prevention tactic in your arsenal but it is also the most effective. Make sure you read all food and medicine labels and avoid the ones that pose a risk.
Dust proof your home
- Dust and pollen are incredibly hard to avoid as they’re airborne and as such the only line of defence is a home that is regularly vacuumed (surfaces such as carpets, upholstered furniture and pillows) and wiped clean with a damp cloth (for hard surfaces like floor tiles and marble countertops)
- For when you want to scrub your home clean with a cloth or broom soaked in water, add a few drops of Dettol Antiseptic liquid to the wash bucket. This will kill 99.9% of germs.
Medication & Anthistamines
Pharmaceutical drugs such as antihistamines are particularly useful in combating allergic reactions caused by airborne allergens. Decongestants and nasal sprays are similarly effective against allergic reactions that attack the respiratory system
Certain foods, medicines and insect stings are known to trigger potentially fatal anaphylactic reactions. Administering adrenaline is the medically preferred course of action in such cases.
Myths and Truths
If I am allergic to something, will my children be?
Allergies can potentially be passed down from generation to generation. However, the diagnoses of allergic reactions cannot be solely attributed to genetic factors and as such scientists are currently conducting extensive studies in environmental pollution and keeping a close eye on allergen levels in the air to isolate the root cause of allergic responses.
If I have one allergy, am I more prone to other allergies?
Not necessarily. Allergic responses may be similar but are essentially unique for every individual. Hay fever is a common allergy cause by pollen but while one person may be allergic to pollen in general, another may be allergic to pollen from a specific plant. It is crucial that one understands that not every reaction and intolerance exhibited by our bodies is allergic in nature.