What causes it?
REASON a person becomes sensitised to allergens is not known,
but it seems to be related to continued exposure.
humans, there is some evidence that chronic exposure to smoke,
particularly tobacco smoke and car exhaust fumes, may sensitise
the mucosa (lining) of the nose, throat and trachea (windpipe)
to protein particles in the air over a one or twoyear period.
This can produce allergic reactions to inhaled proteins.
world around you
is increasing evidence that modern air pollution, containing
a host of known and unknown chemicals, is partly responsible
for the increase in airborne allergy in recent times.
Allergic rhinitis appears to be a mainly recent phenomenon (within
the past 150 years), possibly because of this increase in pollution.
ce, factory and farm workers are exposed to many different chemicals
in the workplace, which may precipitate an allergic reaction
in the form of runny nose, watery eyes or bronchial asthma.
Air-conditioning may recycle moulds, chemicals, bacteria, viruses,
tobacco smoke, perfumes and toiletries around the building.
Family members are similarly exposed to chemical fumes that
come from furnishings around the home as well as exposure to
cleaning substances. Even clothes may have chemical smells that
can trigger an allergy.
Allergies can also come from things of animal origin such as
hairs of household pets. Gas fumes from heaters are also known
to cause illness.
can come from natural honeys and chamomile tea. Food allergy
is well known in some patients with hay fever. Chocolate has
been proven to contribute to salicylate intolerance, leading
to asthma and hay fever.
How can it be treated?
fever is only considered an annoyance, but if the symptoms become
severe they can be a serious problem to health and lifestyle.
In this case, treatment may be needed by a doctor.
You should defi nitely seek medical advice if your hay fever
is accompanied by asthma, or if you want to know what allergen
is the cause of your rhinitis.
most cases, an environmental physician or Allergist can provide
immunotherapy, which will build up your tolerance and can usually
provide good relief from symptoms.
There must be a positive skin reaction to an allergen for immunotherapy
to work, but sometimes the benefi t can be quite dramatic.
pollens, animal hair, molds and dust mites, you could have a
RAST test performed by a doctor. This is a blood serum test
that can be performed for hay fever by a medical laboratory,
but it is not always positive, even in the presence of airborne
you could have a skin test performed by an environmental physician
This is the most reliable test for identifying allergens. Specifi
c allergens are used to detect reactions to specifi c proteins
present by applying these to the skin. These skin reactions
are carefully read and tested against control substances from
the cause of your allergy has been ascertained and a positive
skin test obtained, then a specifi c vaccine can be created
to desensitise you against the allergen that is triggering your
Vaccines contain small amounts of the airborne allergens to
which you are allergic. The body will defend itself by making
antibodies to the allergens injected. This helps build up your
defences against further reaction.
Also, injections “switch on” a part of your immune system, which
acts to reduce allergic responses. No immunotherapy can guarantee
complete success with everyone.
But it is possible to get complete, or almost complete relief
of the distressing symptoms of your allergies, provided your
allergy testing has correctly identifi ed the allergens which
cause your symptoms, and the immunotherapy treatment is given
for a suffi cient length of time.
treatment relief for itches, rashes, a runny nose and eyes or
hives can be obtained through the use of antihistamine tablets
or capsules from your local chemist and these can give good
relief in most cases.
It is best to use a non-sedating type, which does not make you
sleepy. If you have a sinusitis, productive cough or an allergic
eye condition, then ask your chemist for a suitable decongestant
Decongestant eye drops can also be bought and are useful for
red, itchy, watery eyes. If you have a rash or hives, then your
chemist can supply suitable soothing creams, or creams containing
antihistamines steroid preparations, which will ease the effect
of the rash.
Women who are pregnant, or likely to become pregnant, should
avoid but essential medication until the baby is weaned. In
this instance, a visit to a doctor for advice and treatment
your allergy is severe, you should avoid hot drinks as these
increase the blood fl ow, swelling and blocking of nasal mucosa.
Air-fi ltering units help remove unwanted dust and pollen grains.