Saturday, 27 April 2013

Allergy Myths - Part 1

Having been an allergic rhinitis sufferer for years, I've come across many allergy misconceptions by others who are not allergy sufferers. I think sometimes even allergy sufferers themselves are abit confused between myths and reality. Here, I list some allergy myths and give my take on them: 

# 1 Myth: Allergies can be cured

Reality: Sad to say, there are currently no cures for allergies.  Allergy shots, otherwise known as Immunotherapy, is probably the most advance medical treatment we have now for allergy.  If any quack doctors tells you otherwise, RUN.

However, one can manage and keep allergy under relatively good control with the right diagnosis and combination treatment such as antihistamine, saline irrigation, natural health supplements, alternative healing (e.g. acupressure, acupuncture, traditional chinese medication etc), diet and exercise.

I do hope that in my lifetime, medical technology can advance to a stage where there is a real permanent cure for allergies.

# 2 Myth: Allergies are harmless
Reality: Allergies are a serious problem and should not be ignored. Untreated allergies significantly impact our quality of life. It causes poor quality sleep, fatigue and negatively affects one's social life. Who wants to go out and play or entertain friends with a sneezy and congested nose that can hardly breathe?

Untreated allergies can also worsen and allergy sufferer may develop other chronic respiratory problems such as asthma, sinusitis and eczema. Although allergic rhinitis is not life threatening (unless one has underlying asthma condition), those with serious food or drug allergies may get anaphylaxis - an allergic reaction which can be fatal.

It really gets on my goat when some people fail to understand the seriousness of our condition. And this is despite giving them "education" and print-outs written by doctors about allergic rhinitis. They simply brush it off and do not take it to heart. It saddens me, but I am grateful and appreciate the understanding and support that my most beloved one has given me.

#3 Myth: If you didn't have allergies as a child, you're in the clear as an adult
Reality: "Years ago, people thought that allergy was a childhood phenomenon," said Dr. Stanley Fineman, a clinical assistant professor in the division of allergy at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. "We now know the immunologic mechanism and realize that people with allergies have a genetic predisposition to develop an allergy; this can occur at any time even adults can develop allergy symptoms."

New exposures e.g relocation to another region, having a new pet, may trigger allergic reactions to allergens. Also, our sensitivity to allergens can also change with time, e.g during pregnancy or menopause, after a severe bout of illness etc.

I am a good example of this myth. Both my parents have allergic rhinitis. I was not born with it. In fact I was allergy free until I was about 14 years old. Likewise for one of my sisters.

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