Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pollens, House Dust And Allergy

There is no doubt that at certain times of the year, pollens cause many people a distressing array of symptoms. These include hay fever, mucous, red eyes that itch intolerably, overheating and great tiredness. At times, particularly at night, difficulty in breathing may also be experienced. As far back as 1867, Dr Charles Blackley of Manchester, noted that when pollen was placed on the skin it caused itching and swelling to some people. When pollen is inhaled, it makes contact with the mucous membrane, lining the nose, and absorbs water from the mucous. A substance, not yet identified,
dissolves from the pollen and enters the bloodstream through the mucous membrane. It then becomes an antigen which the white cells and antibodies of the immune system would normally destroy. In the case of an allergic person, the immune system does not destroy the pollen antigen. The presence of the antigen causes the mast cells, which are laden with histamine and other chemicals, to break up and release a flood of histamine to the affected areas. The excessive histamine causes both localised symptoms in the initial areas of contact and general symptoms throughout the body. The former being hay fever, runny nose, etc. and the latter, the accompanying tiredness and lethargy. Pollens become a problem mainly during spring and also in autumn owing to some plants, chiefly wild grasses, flowering twice a year. As pollens are carried on the wind, it makes little difference whether a sufferer be a country or a city dweller, the allergic reaction will be the same. Fungal spores from plant parasites on grain crops can also trigger allergic reactions in pollen-sensitive people. Obviously, avoiding exposure to pollens is extremely difficult, apart from staying indoors with the windows closed during the bad times of the year. It is possible, however, for many people to find relief through a programme of desensitization from a medical allergist. This is given, following a series of skin tests, to ascertain the various types of pollens causing the allergy. Medication, such as antihistamine tablets and decongestant sprays may be used to seek occasional, temporary relief. These preparations do not cure but simply palliate symptoms to make life a little easier for the sufferer. Beware of prolonged use! In the United States, doctors now suspect that thousands of people have become addicted to nasal sprays. If used too often to constrict blood vessels that have become dilated by histamine, natural constriction ceases to happen efficiently and the nose can become permanently blocked. While it may not be possible to eliminate symptoms completely, a clean diet and avoidance of allergenic foods and chemicals will assist the immune system to cope better with pollen allergies. House Dust and Allergy People who are sensitive to house dust suffer from a form of allergic rhinitis which can cause identical symptoms to those of a pollen allergy. Fortunately, the symptoms usually subside within half an hour once the person has removed himself from the house environment. The normal activities of making beds, dusting, vacuuming, beating mats, etc. tend to bring on the running nose, hay fever and other symptoms which indicate that an allergenic dust has been released into the surrounding air. A sensitive person may find that when he wakes in the morning he has a blocked nose and itchy eyes. In a dusty house he may even wake during the night, wheezing and short of breath. Housewives may have symptoms throughout the day because of constant exposure. House dust is a composition of cotton, wool fibres, kapok fibres, moulds, human and animal hair, danders (skin flakes), food particles, insect fragments and a variety of substances brought in from outside the house. Although all these materials are to varying degrees, allergenic, the main problem is a living mite – a microscopic, tick-like creature whose main diet is human and animal dander. There are a number of different types of mites; some live in mattresses, whilst others prefer old upholstered furniture. Sensitivity to house dust, therefore, is mainly a sensitivity to the house mite. Treatment of house dust allergy involves removal of the mite and tests to ascertain a course of desensitisation therapy. By: Krishan

No comments:

Post a Comment