Allergy Preventions

By Jiahui International Hospital 2019-11-22 16:30:42

For 10 months of the year, 6-year-old Ella suffered from a stuffy, itchy, and runny nose, along with constant watery eyes. Her classmates did not really understand the situation and she was unfairly nicknamed, “Sneezy.”

At a later age, Ella was also diagnosed with chronic asthma. Her mum is always reminding her to carry her inhaler with her wherever she goes. Ella is frustrated that she seems different from the other kids and that she appears to get sick all the time. She wonders, "Will I always be like this?"

Ella is not alone with her allergies. In fact, many people around the world are affected by allergies and that number is growing every year. There are currently more than 400 million sufferers of hay fever and 235-335 million people with asthma worldwide. In China, there's even less cause for optimism as the number of people with eczema, hay fever, and asthma increases significantly each year.

What are allergies?
An allergy is an immune system reaction to a typically harmless substance. When someone is allergic to something, their immune system mistakenly behaves as if that substance is harming the body. The most common allergic reactions are eczema, hay fever (rhinitis), asthma, and food allergies. These allergies are largely induced by either inhalation or ingestion of the allergen (the substance that causes the allergic reaction).

How Allergy Testing Can Help
Many people are unaware that allergies are often a progressive condition. For instance, 30% of children with eczema will develop asthma. That makes early intervention even more imperative. Testing can help by identifying allergies, managing symptoms, and circumventing potential allergen exposures.

Ella's Experience

• Identifying allergens
In Ella's case, her symptoms suggested that she may have been allergic to the following allergens:

• Dust mites, animal dander, or mould

• Pollen (particularly Chinese mug wort)

• Egg white, milk, or peanuts

• An allergen test at the age of 10 confirmed that she was allergic to Chinese mug wort, dust mites, and cat fur.

Avoiding Allergens
The measures Ella and her parents were advised to take in order to reduce exposure to allergens were: removing carpets and installing an anti-allergy mattress to avoid exposure to dust mites and not letting cats into bedrooms. Furthermore, taking off coats indoors and washing hands to avoid contact with pollen.
By taking proper allergen avoidance measures, Ella's symptoms were relieved dramatically. Even in pollen season, she rarely needed to take antihistamines. That's because allergen testing allows patients to pinpoint potential hot spots and hazards, and to take precautions.

Tips to control allergy triggers in the bedroom and living room

• Cover your pillows and mattresses with special zippered covers that keep dust mites away

• Use a washable blanket instead of a comforter

• Use washable vinyl or roll-type window covers

• Use washable rugs instead of carpets

• Vacuum floors and mattresses weekly using a vacuum cleaner that has a ''HEPA filter'' (HEPA filter: High Efficiency Particulate Air filter)

• If possible remove soft toys, clutter and fabric-covered furniture

• Every week, wash the pillow cases and fabric coverings in hot water with detergent or dry them in a dryer

• Curtains and blinds. Use washable curtains made of plain cotton or synthetic fabric.

Dr Yanhong Li, MD, PhD

Jiahui International Hospital

Specialty: Pediatrics, Pediatric Asthma Clinic

Dr. Li has accumulated rich clinical experience in pediatrics through over 15 years of practicing, and is specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of common and frequently-occurring diseases in children, such as infection, pulmonary and critical diseases.