Allergy

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Have you ever found out more and more people suffering from allergy?  Allergy is getting very common.  In Taiwan, approximately two out of three people are actually affected by allergy reactions, but 60% of them don’t know they are.  Allergy symptoms include nasal congestion, itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, cough, skin itching, etc.  Sometimes people mix up with the symptoms of allergy with those of other conditions such as the common cold or flu.  Typically, allergy symptoms usually occur during a specific time of the year, or due to exposure to allergens.  Severe allergy reactions such as anaphylactic shock or asthma can be even life-threatening.  In anaphylactic shock, there is swelling of the throat which causes difficulty in breathing.

Allergy refers to the exaggerated reaction by the immune system in response to certain foreign substances.  These substances are normally seen as harmless in the body of non-allergic individuals and do not cause a response.  However in allergic individuals, the body recognizes the foreign substance and the immune system generates a response.

Allergy-producing substances are called allergens.  In Taiwan, the most common allergens are cockroaches and dust mites.  It’s important to clean the environment and keep humidity under 60% as possible to reduce allergens.  In addition to the environment affecting the development of allergy, the family history of allergy is another major factor.  There are some other risk factors for the development of allergy.  For example, children born via Cesarean section have a higher risk of allergy as compared to children via natural birth.  Exposure to tobacco smoke and air pollution increases the risk.  Allergy is more common in urban lifestyle, and less in countryside lifestyle.  Allergy can develop at any age, including during adulthood.

The most common food allergens include cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, shellfish, chocolate, kiwi fruit, etc.  Cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, and soy allergens are most common in children but who may get better over time.  The most common allergens in adults are peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish.

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There are some things we can do to prevent from allergy:

1.Keep away from dust mites

Especially clean the bedrooms which we stay very long time during a day.  Use hot water to do the laundry with blankets, bed covers, pillow covers.  Regularly put the mattress, quilt, comforter, pillow exposed to the sun.  Keep the humidity under 60% if possible.  Dust mites breed in humid environment and get killed under hot temperature.  A room with good ventilation and likely receiving sunshine would be the best.

2.Better not to keep pets in the house

Do not allow pets in the bedroom.  Regularly use vacuum cleaners to clean the rooms where pets stay around.  In addition, stuffed toys may contain dust mites.

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3.Eat food, but not processed food

Food additives may induce allergy reactions.

4.Keep exercising

Exercise may activate the immune cells and strengthen the immunity.

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5.A mother-to-be should be careful with diet

Less allergic foods such as peanuts or tree nuts during pregnancy. The baby’s immature immune system may overreact to allergens.  After childbirth, it’s better to breastfeed the baby as long as possible.  In addition, doctors suggest not to introduce highly allergic foods into the baby’s diet before one year of age because it may increase the risk of food allergy.

6.Relax

Stress may affect body hormones, weaken the immunity, and induce allergy reactions.

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