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What is allergy?

According to the research study, the majority of patients with allergy in Thailand in the approximate ranging of 62-79% , are allergic to household dust mites, the second highest ranging of roughly 44-60% are allergic to cockroaches and dead insects, and about 5-15% are allergic to outdoor allergen like pollen, and grass. ( based on research study from test conducted with skin related allergen)

Besides this, the research study has found that about 88.1% of Thai people’s houses are infested with household dust-mites, mostly of Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus category. The dust-mites infestation level was found to be as high as 100 dust-mites per 1 gram weight of pure dust, which exceeds the standard allowed by World Health Organization (WHO) at not more than 2 microgram per 1 gram weight of pure dust. This significantly indicates that approximately 25-30% of Thai people’s household have dust-mites infestation level high enough to cause allergy.

And so, what are the factors causing people to suffer with allergy?

According to medical research study, at present there are 2 major factors influencing the onset of allergic diseases, which are

  1. Genetic factor

    The research study has found that any family with no history of allergy, the likelihood of allergy in a child is only 10-20%, in contrast, if there is history of allergy in either one of the parents, like father or mother, then the likelihood goes up to 50%, however, if both parents are allergy patients, the risk of the child becoming allergy patient is as high as 70%,

  2. Environmental factor

    As for environmental factor, there are many causes of allergy coming from what we are exposed to around us, such as direct exposure to allergens like smoking, virus infection, and being deprived of adequate breast feeding in the infant age can also cause a child to be at higher risk of allergy, or direct exposure to environmental pollution, these factors altogether can greatly induce allergic symptoms.

In addition to the 2 major factors already mentioned, there are many other supplementary factors which can cause allergy, such as direct contact with allergens, direct contact with irritating substances like dust, smoke, smell, and also weather change, change in body hormone, or mood changing, can bring on allergic symptoms.

Allergy

Allergy is a form of a human body’s reacting to any foreign substance it comes into contact with. However, instead of reacting in a normal way, the body put up an unusual resistance, such that a strange body’s immunizing substance instead of the matched substance is stimulated, which then causes allergic effect. This symptom is known as I.G.E. and the body’s stimulant which causes this allergic symptom is called Allergen.

So what physical conditions are referred to as Allergy ?

  • - Asthma, caused by muscle contraction around the windpipe which causes breathing difficulty.
  • - Allergic conjunctivitis, causing eyes irritation so intense that severe eyes rubbing follows.
  • - Food allergy, like people who are allergic to sea food or allergic to protein from nuts.
  • - Allergic rhinitis, which is an acute nasal inflammation condition causing nasal irritation, sneezing, coughing, constant running nose.
  • - Allergic eczema, or sometime referred to as wind-affected skin rashes, which brings on symptom of itchy skin rashes, lumps, red patches on the limbs, or on the body of the allergic patient.
  • - Drug and chemical substance allergy, which brings on various symptoms, for examples, palpitations (irregular heart beats), intense heart beats, itchy skin rashes, difficulty in breathing.

What are the causes of allergens?

Allergens are found almost everywhere, and are classified into major categories according to where they are found : such as indoor allergens like household dust-mites, dead insects, wastes and discharges of insects like ants, cockroaches, animal fur from cats, dogs, rabbits, as well as Mold spores.

Whereas the outdoor allergens are those found in pollen, Bermuda grass, Para grass, careless weed, sedge, cattail, Mimosa, Mold spores, for examples, Cladosporium sp. Asperillos sp. Penicillium sp.

Examination and Diagnosis for Allergy

As a primary examination, the doctor would gather past medical history of the family by making direct inquiry with the patient, to find out if anyone in the family has suffered from allergy, or if one or both parents has, also the patient’s own medical history, any history of allergic symptoms like coughing, sneezing, blocked-up nose, running nose. If there was any symptom, where it occurred, and how often, history of any previous treatment in details, in order that the doctor could correctly diagnose the patient’s sickness in details.

The next procedure is for the doctor to conduct a physical examination of the patient’s symptom, which will enable the doctor to identify which type of allergy the patient is suffering from. For example, there might be symptoms of blocked-up nose, running nose which are caused by nasal inflammation, apparent nasal swelling, which again is the symptom of nasal inflammation caused by allergy, or feeling out of breath, chest tightness, wheezing while breathing, and more often than not, these are concluded as Asthma.

If physical examination is inconclusive, further investigation such as examination of lung functioning, skin prick test via patch test, or blood checking of IGE level of allergen by ELISA Immuno-fluorescence technique, RAST (Radio Allergo-Sorbent Test)

Protection and treatment against allergy

The most effective treatment against allergy is avoidance of direct contact with allergen, which is of primarily important factor, and secondary measure is to promote environmental control to minimize creation of allergen.

The next step is treatment of allergy by medication (Pharmacotherapy) in order to treat allergic symptoms, or to subdue the seriousness of allergy by consulting doctor, who would prescribe drug use in accordance with patient’s allergic condition.

The next treatment is to get vaccinated against allergy (Immunotherapy), before vaccination the doctor needs to examine the patient to identify what is the exact cause of allergy, then by injecting a small amount of substance derived from the same allergen, the patient is effectively immunized by desensitization. The patient will require repeated vaccination after a 2 weeks time lapse, at a regular monthly interval, with 2 vaccinations per month for a treatment period of no less than one years. For this vaccination treatment to be effective, the patient will need to be self-disciplined by keeping up with scheduled visits to, and getting vaccinated by the doctor consistently.

It is well accepted that protection is always better than treatment, and majority of cases of allergy are caused by allergy to mostly dust-mites. Therefore, protecting against, and getting rid of, dust-mites, which are the primary cause of allergy, should be the most appropriate and convenient way, with the utmost emphasis on bedding in our bedroom like, for instance, regular weekly cleaning up of bedding, washing bed linen with hot water at 55-60 degree Celsius for at least 20 minutes can also get rid of dust-mites, or even washing pillow cases and bed linen with cold water can wash away 90% of mite allergen, or one can choose the use of pillow cases and bed linen made of anti dust-mites fabric of less than 6 micrometer perforation, which would prevent wastes from dust-mites being pumped through bed linen into the air.

The use of spray can, whose contents are either chemical agent, cenneturents, or natural products, by directly spraying on mattresses, can get rid of dust-mites. At present, the available choices are, chemical based formula made of benzyl benzoate, acarosan pheny salicylate, pyrethroids, then again the use of chemicals will expose human beings and animals to the long term risk of adverse side effect, or one other alternative is to use substance extracted from natural products like cloves, cinnamon, and various flowers, which is a lot safer to the users of the product.

Aside from all the treatment of allergy mentioned so far, there are many other measures of protection against dust-mites, though not 100% effective but would help to reduce the volume of dust-mites, these are

  • - Use of high-power vacuum cleaner equipped with HEPA filter.
  • - Use of linoleum wood flooring in place of carpet for home interior to avoid collection of dust-mites allergen.
  • - Avoid the use of soft furnishings for home interior decoration.
  • - Avoid keeping pets in the bedroom.
  • - Use leather covered or vinyl covered furniture instead of fabric covered seating furniture.
  • - Not taking into and keeping in the bedroom stuffed dolls or toys covered with soft fabrics, but if this cannot be avoided, then the items should be washed at the water temperature of 55-60 degree Celsius for 20 minutes or longer.
  • - Regularly putting out mattresses, carpets, rugs to dry in strong sunlight for at least 3 hours to kill dust-mites.