Before I met my husband (many moons ago), I’d never been exposed to allergies. 25+ years ago, growing up in my little old town of Hokitika, on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, allergies and food intolerances were so uncommon that for me they were non-existent. This all changed when I met hubby and was introduced to his dust, animal dander and pollen allergies. I’d gone from blissful ignorance to full blown allergy submersion. Of course, Hubby had lived with his allergies for as long as he could remember so the learning curve was all mine, thankfully he was well versed in how to prevent a flare up, I just had to take his lead. For more on his allergies, check out my previous post “The Impacts of Our Family’s Allergies”.
Things have changed dramatically in the last 15 years or so. In fact, recently the World Allergy Organisation announced that allergies should be considered a global public health problem and that steps need to be taken to promote awareness about them. Allergies like eczema were estimated to affect 334 million globally in 2013, with an alarmingly increasing number of children being subjected to this form of allergy.
In this post I want to a bit of information about the eczema and food, latex and pollen allergies, along with their symptoms and various treatment. The information outlined below should not be considered medical advice and I urge you to seek professional medical treatment should experience any of the symptoms below.
Eczema is a medical condition in which the skin becomes rough, inflamed and is often accompanied with blisters leading to itching and bleeding. About 10 to 20 percent of infants and 3 percent of adults are affected by eczema in US only. Statistics for Australia are still in the data collecting stages. Eczema is caused by overreaction of the immune system to an irritant or irritants. Symptoms include swelling, excessive itching, redness of the skin, rashes, skin colour change and pigmentation. Unfortunately, there is no particular cure for eczema, however under the supervision of a dermatologist, this disease can be effectively managed. After examination by a dermatologist, they can properly diagnose and recommend relevant medications and preventative measures to manager eczema.
Food allergies are close to home after Ella’s diagnosis earlier this year. According to reports submitted by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4 to 6 percent children and 4 percent adults are affected by food allergies. Basically, a food allergy is caused when your body’s immune system reacts inappropriately with the food or any particular substance of the food, and gives an abnormal response. Examples of allergen foods include Eggs, milk, peanuts, soy, wheat, eggplants, tree nuts, shellfish. Food allergies can range from mild to severe, and have grown more common to babies and children in the last decade or so. Symptoms of food allergies vary from person to person, however some of the common symptoms are itchiness, swelling of the tongue, diarrhoea, shortness of breath, dizziness, weakness, skin colour change, hives and the most extreme condition can lead to anaphylaxis- a dangerous reaction that can sends body to shock. This link is to one of my recent posts on anaphylaxis.
The most effective method of treatment of food allergies is to simply avoid eating those foods. Extreme caution needs to be taken when buying any pre-packaged products, always thoroughly examine the ingredients list before purchasing. Parents should seek proper guidance from their trusted nutritionist or dietician, so that they can be well informed about the foods, the reaction it can cause and what are replacements of those food items to keep the nutritional level maintained.
Latex Allergies are less common then other allergies but still have a detrimental effect to those who have them. A latex allergy actually means being allergic to natural rubber latex or products made of it. People can develop sensitivity that leads to allergic reactions when they come in contact with rubber latex. The immune system reacts with a protein found in latex, causing an abnormal reaction in the body. Although this kind of allergy isn’t very common, it is on a rise. Symptoms include skin redness, rashes, itching, running nose, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, sneezing, swelling, asthma, and in the extreme case, it can cause shock which can be life threatening.
Latex can be hidden in many common products like balloons, children toys, feeding bottle nipples, condoms, gloves and even Band-Aids. As of now, there has not been any medically proven medicine that can eradicate latex allergies, however there are some medicines that are able to give temporary relief. If you are allergic to latex, the most effective way to avoid having a reaction is to make certain lifestyle changes and stay away from products made of latex. Mothers should be careful when they take their child for regular check-ups to doctors, and should inform them about your child’s allergy to latex, so that doctors can use latex free gloves for the check- up. Children should be kept away from latex balloons, toys, and baby feeding bottle nipples etc. Parents should inform the school authority about their child’s allergic condition. A child must be taken to the doctor for a thorough allergy test to understand the gravity of the situation and take the correct medication course of action.
Pollen Allergies (of which my husband if a sufferer) are quite common these days. Pollen is a substance found in trees, flowers and other plants that is carried from plant to plant by wind, birds, insects and others for them to fertilise. Exposure to pollen can cause severe allergies in people, known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, aggravate asthma, nasal congestion, watery eyes. For treatment of pollen allergies, firstly, a thorough check-up is advised from your doctor or allergist to know the actual reason that caused the allergy. An allergist can prescribe certain medicines ahead of the pollination season which can help you a lot. Apart from this, there are certain nasal sprays, allergy shots and medicines available that are effective in helping your body to develop resistance against pollen.
We’re almost at the end spring here in Australia so through the rough season of pollen allergies but they can occur in other times of the year. Through correct diagnosis and medication, my husband is barely affected by his pollen allergy these days. If you have had a reaction and believe it’s caused by an allergy I urge you to seek medical advice. There is no need to suffer, with the correct medication and lifestyle changes you can lead a normal life.