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What is an allergy and how can I avoid it?

Recent studies show that an estimated one-third of UK population will develop an allergy at some point in their lives. 40% children have already been diagnosed with one or more allergic conditions, and the count is expected to increase due to factors like genetics, environment, and protection.

Allergies can be mild or intense, but are always unpleasant. In some cases inflammation caused by an allergy may be linked to more serious problems of respiratory illness like asthma, conjunctivitis, or the development of sinusitis. Most cases of allergic reactions can be controlled with the right help and education on the condition.

What causes an allergy?

Allergies are basically an over-reaction by the body to a substance that is perceived harmful. Substances that cause an allergic reaction are called allergens. An allergen can enter the body in several ways.

  • Inhaled into the nose and lungs: Airborne pollens of certain flowers, trees, grasses and weeds may be inhaled and cause an allergic reaction. Dust mite droppings, mould spores, and cat and dog dander can also cause an allergic reaction when inhaled.
  • Ingested by mouth: A person may be allergic to certain foods or drinks, for example seafood, peanuts, and some medicines.
  • Injected: An insect sting or an injectable drug may cause an allergic reaction.
  • Absorbed through the skin: Certain things that come in contact with the skin like stinging nettles, poison ivy, and certain cosmetics may cause an allergic reaction.

Not everyone is prone to allergic reactions, but for individuals prone to allergies the trigger of the allergy, the allergen, will differ from person to person. In sensitive people an allergen may trigger wheezing, coughing, rash, and sneezing because the body considers the allergen a foreign substance that it must defend itself against.

How can get rid of an allergy or entirely avoid it?

The best way to avoid an allergy is by avoiding the allergen. This may not be easy depending on the allergen source, for example airborne pollen or your child’s favourite pet. However it should be possible to limit the quantity of allergens by limiting your time exposed to them.

You can also use Zirtek to help relieve allergy symptoms. It is a 2nd generation antihistamine and does not cause drowsiness. It is available in two formats, one for adults and 12 year old children and the other for 12 year old to 6 year old children. Zirtek should not, however, be used for children under the age of 6 years.

Remember to always consult your healthcare expert or pharmacist before starting a new medication. He might be able to help you learn more about your allergy and how you can better avoid it.