How to prevent allergy?
Allergic diseases ranging from very mild to very sever has become a norm nowadays. Everyone literally everyone is suffering from some kind of allergy. Allergies have become so common that major part of OPD visits and ER visits are nowadays due to some kind of allergic conditions. Let’s discuss how does this common problem arises and becomes very often very annoying recurrently occurring and even life threatening sometimes. It is very important to prevent allergy. As a Pediatrician we are giving this general guideline on ‘How to prevent allergy?’
Table of Contents
What is allergy?
- Well in simple words it is malfunction of your immune system.
- Everyone has got an immune system.
- That immune system fights off the attacking agents like bacteria and viruses against your body to maintain the normal state of your body and life.
- This immune system daily fights the attackers from everywhere from skin to your gut and respiratory tracts.
- While handling these attacks and fighting it produce certain chemicals that are needed to fight off those attacking agents.
- Allergy is a condition in which the your immune system is hyper reactive that is it is producing those chemicals excessively and in the process losing the balance so that you feel the bad effects on you.
- So allergy is just hyper reactivity and loss of balance of your immune system.
What are manifestations of allergy?
Allergy manifests as many different ways from very mild symptoms to very sever ones.
Following are some common manifestations:
- Recurrent cold.
- Skin itching and rashes.
- Conjunctival irritations.
- Recurrent conjunctivitis.
- Sever life threatening include anaphylaxis and urticarias.
What are causes of allergies?
As further we are planning to discuss about the prevention of allergies we also need to know the causes of allergies.
· Pollutants: Let it be industrial pollutants in air and water or be agricultural pollutants like cotton fibres when one with allergic tendencies come in contact with those pollutants suffer the allergies. The symptoms can be very mild to very sever like life threatening attack of acute asthma.
· Adulterants: The food becoming produced by industry which is necessarily profit driven activity to increase the profit margins foods are adulterated with cheaper chemical alternatives which are harmful. They are cheaper but come at the cost of your health causing allergies in different forms.
· Coloring agents: Coloring agents which may be even permitted food additives cause increased incidence of allergies in consumers. Coloring agents in cakes and bakery products are biscuits are common culprits.
· Bovine milk: All milks other than human milk if given in first years especially first 6 months of life can cause increased reactogenicity leading to allergic conditions in consumers.
· Aerosols: The certain aerosols and perfumes produced industrially can trigger the allergies.
· Cosmetics: Use of cosmetics are commonly containing harmful chemicals causing allergies to those who use it. These can cause allergic dermatitis or contact dermatitis.
Jewelry: Metal jewelry can cause allergic contact dermatitis to people especially females who wear them commonly.
· Chemically ripened fruits: In cities many different chemical agents are used to hasten the ripening process or to switten the fruits those can induce allergies to consumers.
· Cold food: Food that are cold if consumed when cold can cause allergies and hay fever.
· Smoke and tobacco: Your smoke is harming not just you but people around you by increasing proportion of allergies in them and also increasing the risk of cancers.
· Dhoop And strong smells: Dhoop and agarbatti smoke can induce allegies in individuals who are prone for it. Also strong smells scents and perfumes may increase incidences of allergic attacks.
· Insects: Insects themselves secret some product in air to induce allergies.
· Pesticides: Chemical pesticides are poisonous and more efficient in inducing allergies than pests themselves.
· Dogs and cats: May sound harsh but is is scientific fact keep dogs and cats out of house. Even people who have cats and dogs in their house and they come to meet you to your house you may get allergy. The proteins in hair of these animals are shed regularly if they are in house and they can cause allergies. They can remain for 6 months in house even if the animal is removed out from the house.
· Medicines: Yes you read it right some people are allergic to medicines and we need to avoid that particular medicines and group of medicines in them.
· Animal milk: In countries where bovine milk is consumed without boiling particularly have milk protein allergies. These can be very mild to very severe. Sometimes showing symptoms very slowly like iron deficiency anemia. Infants who have got bovine milk in their first six months of life are particularly prone to develop allergies to various proteins later on.
· Eggs: Some people are allergic to egg proteins they may develop very sever allergic reaction on exposure to these proteins orally or by injectable route. Generally these are people allergic to raw eggs as protein structure changes when the eggs are boiled or cooked. But the real problem occurs when these people need to be given vaccines as some vaccines may contain proteins similar to egg proteins.
How to prevent allergy?
Given above causes of allergies you might have got a fare idea of how to avoid allergies. Let’s discuss it here now:
· Avoid readymade food and formulas and prefer homemade food as much as possible. For a change in once in a month or 2 months readymade food is ok but not more than that. Anyway if you want children to follow your orders you need to respect their opinions too. Give them condition that if they properly eat homemade food for a month then only will get outside food at the end of the month. Well win-win situation for the both.
· Exclusive breast feeding till 6 months age help to protect infants from developing various kinds of allergies. It helps to prevent allergy in future. Exclusive breast feeding till 6 months should be promoted as best food for the infants. Nothing other than breast milk and needed medicines are to be given to infants till 6 months of age.
· Avoiding food containing coloring agents helps to prevent allergy. Foods bakery products chocolates, cakes, biscuits, often contain coloring agents leading to allergies so better avoid them. Get used to Indian snacks of idli, dosa, uttapam, usal, poha, upma, parantha rather than those bakery products.
· Preferably bring fruits raw and let them ripe in house so that you are not cheated in buying fruits. Avoid carbide and chemicals ripened fruits. These chemicals are dangerous to health and cause variety of allergic conditions and other health effects that are not desirable.
· Preserve fruits and vegetables at room temperature and consume fresh rather than storing in fridge and eating cold food. Cold food and cold exposure is knon to cause array of allergic manifestations ranging from allergic rhinitis to acute attack of asthma. Various skin allergies are exacerbated in winter seasons too.
· Strictly avoid smoking at least in home where small children and older adults live. Smoking is injurious to yourself inducing allergies as well as it is injurious to those around you posing them to increased risks of cancer and various kinds of allergies. Smoking should be strictly stopped if you are pregnant as it may seriously affect you and your baby.
· Pest control measures other than chemical pesticides. Pest control is good as pest themselves cause allergies in variety of ways. But if you are using chemicals and gases to control them it is equally harmful and dangerous to you and people around you as chemical pesticides can have serious effects on you especially lasting long term. These chemicals may induce allergies by themselves as well and they have capacity to stay for prolonged period in environment.
· Stay away from construction sites and where the pollutants levels are high. Near construction site soil and cement particles are dispersed in air very effectively and they are inhaled by breath going inside the lung causing symptoms from allergic rhinitis to acute attack of asthma. Those who have allergic tendencies better stay away from the construction site. Additionally at construction site specific type of fungus grows that is responsible to induce allergies and severe fungal lung infection in immune-compromised hosts.
· Avoid burning dhoops and agarbatties in house at least when person with allergic tendencies is in house.
· Avoid using strong smells and scents and perfumes as these may induce allergies if you are prone for the allergy.
· Avoid using talcum powder as it may float in air in form of particles and can get into your nose and lungs while breathing can lead to the allergic rhinitis and cough.
· Avoid giving soft toys to children or cover them with some plastic. These soft toys can gather a lot of dust in them and while playing children may inhale that dust inti nose causing allergic rhinitis and cough.
· Every house has curtains in it. These curtains are very good at attracting the soil particles on them. When curtains are moved or children are playing with them the particles on them can cause allergic rhinitis and cough. These curtains should be washed once in a week or two with warm water.
· The beddings and pillow should be covered with some kind of plastic covering that doesn’t allow the particles inside to fly as those particles can rhinitis and cough when someone sleeps on it.
· Blankets can release a lot of dust particles and and fibres while we sleep posing us a risk of cold and cough allergies. Those should have covering that do not cause release of particles in air thus prevent allergy.
· One should use pollution mask and helmet while riding a bike and should wear the type of clothing that protects from cold air. Proper riding gear helps to prevent allergy.
· One who is allergic to soil particles can use mask while playing outdoor games.
· Swimming is one of the best exercise to maintain the health but one should avoid swimming in cold waters.
· If you are allergic to grass causing contact dermatitis you should play with full clothing so that your skin does not come in contact of grass and you are safe from the allergy.
· Have balanced diet daily. Food faddism can lead to malnutrition which can cause obesity or under-nutrition and also micronutrients and vitamins deficiency. Many vitamins if provided doses are known to reduce allergic reactivity and allergies. Vit C and zinc is known to decrease respiratory symptoms of allergies. It should be noted that we should include the natural sources of foods containing Vit C and zinc in diet. Vit D is known to help in variety of skin allergy conditions. Vit A is needed for good immunity and maintaining overall growth.
· Daily physical exercise should be done as routine. It is as important as you eat and sleep daily. Everyone should exercise within own capacity as needed and suitable for the age. Exercise helps to increase the physical and mental capacity. It helps us to maintain overall balance in health. Exercise daily at least for half an hour is good for maintaining long term health. It should be preferably outdoor activity like jogging, running, swimming, vigorous walking.
· Daily breathing exercises. Till few years back there was no evidence that breathing exercises help to decrease the allergies but now there is certain evidence that these exercises do help in reducing episodes and severity of allergic episodes that to a significant proportion through yet unknown mechanism.
· If you are allergic to some medicine you should tell your consultant beforehand as you need to avoid those medicines.
· Those who have bovine milk allergies should avoid it.
· Infants should not be given animal milk till 1 year age as those infants who get animal milk in first year of life are known to develop various allergies in future.
· People who are allergic to egg proteins should take vaccine where anaphylaxis care is available. Or they can get it after they undergo de-sensitization therapy.
· If all these measures fail you need to get treated with medicines with the help of your doctor. Treatments can be curative for current episode and long term treatment for the prevention of recurrence of episodes.
· Certain therapies like de-sensitization therapy are available to reduce the allergic reactivity in particular individual to a particular allergic agents, The individual is given those therapy is allergic agent is known and allergy is so severe that it may be life threatening if occurs in future.
- Respiratory immunity specific probiotics like RespiStrong are know to effectively reduce allergies.
· Food industry should label foods containing potential allergen. Food industry should write all contents of packaged food on the packet and also their quantity in each packet. So that consumer can decide whether to consume it.
Bhole Children’s Clinic, Ravet we are very near to Punawale, Kiwale, and akurdi