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Allergies

Hayfever and Allergic rhinitis

Allergies to aeroallergens are immediate hypersensitivity reactions triggered by exposure to airborne allergens such as pollens, house dust mite or animal fur. Individuals can develop specific IgE antibodies to these harmless substances which can trigger symptoms of allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis or allergic asthma. These antibodies can be identified by performing skin prick test or blood test to the suspect allergen.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever)

Patients with hay fever develop inflammation of the nasal passages on exposure to the pollens in spring (tree pollen) or summer (grass pollen). Symptoms of hay fever include itchy, runny or blocked nose, or sneezing and/or itchy, swollen or red eyes. Symptoms can affect studies, work, and sleep or leisure activities.

Perennial allergic rhinitis

Perennial allergic rhinitis is due to inflammation of the nasal passages triggered by airborne particles which are present all the year round. The allergens commonly are house dust mites, pets such as dogs or cats. Symptoms include nasal symptoms (itchy, runny or blocked nose or sneezing) or eye symptoms (itchy, swollen or red eyes).

Allergic conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is due to allergic inflammation of the eyes triggered by airborne particles like tree or grass pollen (seasonal symptoms) or house dust mites, cats or dogs (perennial symptoms). Quite often patients have symptoms of both allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis, though one site may be more affected than the other.

Allergic asthma

In allergic asthma, patients can get symptoms of wheezing when airborne allergens trigger inflammation and constriction of the airways. Common allergens are pollens, house dust mite, pets like dogs and cats, or molds.

Treatment

Patients with hay fever or allergic rhinitis are advised to avoid exposure to potential allergens. The symptoms are controlled by antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays. If maximal optimal medical therapy fails to effectively control the symptoms patients can be offered desensitisation to allergens like tree or grass pollen or house dust mite.

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