Allergies, common in the western world.jpg

Allergies, common in the western world

THE NUMBER of people who suffer from allergies is steadily increasing. Allergies can affect the nose, the skin or the chest, and all can make people’s lives a misery. But the good news is that most allergies can be managed and treated successfully.

What are allergies?

Allergic reactions happen when the immune system overreacts to a normally harmless substance by producing an antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). Substances which trigger allergic reactions are called allergens.

Types of allergens

• House dust mites

• Pets (cats, dogs)

• Food (peanuts, shellfish, nuts, milk, eggs, etc.)

• Pollen from wind-pollinated grasses, trees, weeds

• Spores from fungi

• Insect stings or bites

Diagnosis

• Skin prick test: A drop of a solution containing the allergen is placed on the skin, which is then pricked with a sterile needle through the drop. Results are evident after 20 minutes in the form of an itchy wheal.

• Patch test: A substance is applied to a small area of healthy skin, which is covered by a patch and left for 48 hours.

• Blood test: Blood tests measure the amount of IgE. There are about 200 different substances which can be tested by this method.

Can allergies be cured?

Unfortunately, allergies cannot be cured, but can be relieved by different medical treatments.

• To know more about allergies and ways of minimising symptoms, contact Dr. Shirin Samimi-Fard at the German Clinic II, situated in Estrada do Farol 27, 2ºDto, Carvoeiro. Telephone 282 356 925, mobile 963 770 589, or e-mail samimi_fard@yahoo.de. She speaks English, German and Spanish.