Allergy refers to an abnormal sensitivity to a substance that normally does not cause problems to most of us. This hypersensitivity may manifest in various organ system resulting in illnesses, like allergic asthma (lungs), allergic rhinitis or hay fever(nose) and atopic eczema (skin).
About 15% of the population suffer from allergic rhinitis. In Singapore, about one in six children suffer from Allergic Rhinitis. It is more common all year round as compared to seasonal rhinitis.
Allergens are the substance that cause allergic reactions. There are many known allergens, and different people can be sensitive to different sets of allergens. These allergens can enter the body by inhalation, eating, or through direct contact to the skin.
Common examples of allergens include house dust mites, cockroaches, mold and animal dander or hair.
Allergic Rhinitis occurs when an allergen is inhaled.
The test is the most common and cost-effective method of determining a person’s sensitivity to the various allergens. It can also help to determine a person’s degree of sensitivity to the allergens.
Most allergic diseases are due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. This means that there is usually a family member with asthma, allergic rhinitis or eczema. However, this alone does not account for the increase in allergic diseases that is happening all over the world. Factors in the environment may account for this.
House dust mites are microscopic creatures that are found everywhere in mattresses, pillows, bedsheets, clothes, soft toys, sofas and carpets. Allergic individuals who may suffer from asthma, allergic rhinitis or eczema are commonly sensitized (allergic) to these house dust mites. The commonest dust mite in Singapore is called Blomia tropicalis. The droppings of these dust mites is the most common trigger of allergy and asthma.
As people spend most of their time in the bedroom, it is most important to reduce the levels of dust mites there.
Some simple but very effective measures
Many parents are worried that prolonged cough will develop into asthma. This is a myth. Coughing does not cause asthma. Your child may be coughing because he already has mild asthma. Allergic rhinitis and asthma can co-exist, so it is not surprising that someone with allergic rhinitis later develops asthma.