Column: Graham Hibbins, from Strachan’s Chemist, takes a look at allergies

ALLERGIES are caused by your immune system responding to a harmless substance and reacting as if it is a potential threat to your body.

The allergens that cause the reaction can be numerous common compounds, such pollen, certain foods, animals or chemicals.

When the body comes into contact with the ‘harmful’ substances, histamine is released from white blood cells into the blood stream. The patient might experience mild symptoms such as a runny nose and itching or severe life-threatening anaphylactic reactions requiring the administration of adrenaline.

Allergies usually start in childhood with intolerance to such things as milk, eggs, nuts, dust mites, insect stings and pollen, to name a few.

Asthma in children is often due to allergies. This may improve with age, but some allergies such as peanut allergy can stay throughout their life.

Conversely, adults can develop allergies to things they were not previously allergic to such as gluten, antibiotics, hair dyes and hand sanitiser.

Exposure can cause sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, wheezing and coughing, a red itchy rash, diarrhoea or bloating, depending on the type of allergy.

It is probably wise to get professional help if worried about a particular substance or symptoms.

Your doctor will probably request an allergy test to determine the nature of the problem.

The best way to manage the allergy I’m afraid is to avoid it. This can vary from keeping the window closed for hay fever sufferers to using special vacuums to get rid of dust mites or checking ingredients before ingesting a food or substance.

Always make others aware if you have a severe allergy and an adrenaline pen should be carried just in case.

Minor allergies can be treated with antihistamines, decongestants and steroids. Your pharmacist is always there to offer further advice and information.

• Next month, following on from this article, I am going to discuss contact dermatitis.
• Visit Strachan’s Chemist at 7 New Street, Uppermill or call them on
01457 820228.

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