Dear Jolon, My child suffers with allergies. Is there something I can do to help her?
Allergies occur when a person reacts to substances in the environment that most people don’t react to. These substances are called allergens and can be found in dust mites, pollens, pets, insects, moulds, foods and some medications. Symptoms of allergy can include itchy nose and eyes, excess mucous production, sneezing, swelling, itchy skin, asthma. In the most serious cases, a symptom can be anaphylaxis (swelling of the upper airways).
Addressing and Treating the Allergies
One of the first steps in addressing an allergy is to try and identify the allergen (the substance which the person is reacting to). In general, avoiding contact where possible will reduce the incidence of allergic symptoms. However, it can be difficult sometimes to identify the allergen/s, so you should speak to your doctor regarding allergy testing.
Overall there are many different treatments for allergies, depending upon the symptoms that the patient experiences. The first option is antihistamines (eg. Loratadine, Fexofenadine, Cetirizine). These block histamine – which is what causes the swelling and itch associated with allergies. Mostly antihistamines are useful in treating immediate symptoms of mild/moderate allergic reactions.
The next option are corticosteroids (eg. Mometasone, budesonide, fluticasone) which reduce the immune response to allergens. These medications can be useful to prevent allergies in patients that suffer on a daily/weekly/seasonal basis. In addition, if used regularly, they can prevent the onset of symptoms.
Anaphylaxis Action Plan
In the most serious allergies that cause anaphylaxis, it is extremely important that the patient is aware of the allergen that leads to their allergic reaction. This is because the primary treatment should be to avoid the allergen. The patient should also have a detailed Anaphylaxis Action Plan developed with their doctor and pharmacist that will involve steps to treating an anaphylactic reaction. This will involve the possible administration of a dose of adrenaline (epinephrine) through a device called an Epi-pen. In addition, it is always important that family members and caregivers are aware of this plan and know what to do in the event of an emergency.
If you or your family need assistance in managing your allergy symptoms, please contact the friendly pharmacists at Gasworks Pharmacy.
P 4957 5522
A Shop 7/137 Shakespeare St, Mackay
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