So you think you’re Allergic?

So you’re at the Christmas dinner table and you eat a mouthful of the scrumptious looking Christmas fruitcake. You talk to your relatives for awhile and suddenly, a stifling sensation creeps up your throat and you feel dizzy. You take a sip of water and try to wash away the uncomfortable sensation; you even try eating a bit of that just to take your mind off the growing suffocation. Nothing seems to work. It starts to get harder to breathe and your airways feel as if they need a plumber to unclog it. Then, suddenly you faint.

Have you experienced this scenario before? I know I have. It’s utterly irksome to go to a dinner hoping that they don’t serve anything to which you are allergic so you wouldn’t have to be brought to the hospital or look like a human puffer-fish. So, what are allergies?

Allergies are exaggerated responses of the immune system to things such as pollen or food ingredients. The immune system protects your body from unrecognizable substances that could be potentially harmful to your body. Whatever you’re allergic to, the body identifies as foreign and decides to react in a way suiting that label. The environment plays a role in allergy development, but mostly, allergies are inherited and you have a higher risk of developing an allergy if you have a family member with an allergy. Also, most of the time, people aren’t born with allergies, but develop them as they grow up. However, all hope is not lost. Just as people develop allergies, certain individuals can outgrow them as well.

In industrial countries, about 10% to 30% of people are affected by allergies and the number has only been increasing over the last two decades. Of our day, some of the most common things to which people are allergic include pollen, nuts, eggs, seafood, and wheat.  In fact, many of our ICS students have allergies that they have learnt to cope with in their everyday life. Annually, allergies account for more than 17 million outpatient office visits, majority of them being in the fall or spring.common allergie

I had the privilege to interview one of our very own high school ICS students who knows what it’s like to experience allergies- Eugene Koo.

Knightly News: What are you allergic to? When did you develop it?
E: I am allergic to seafood and eggs. However, the most important allergy I have is linked to my atopic condition which is an allergy to dust and heat. I have lived with allergies my entire life but the non-food ones seemed to develop when I moved to the tropical climate of Singapore.
Knightly News: How do you cope with your allergies? Are there any changes you have to make to your lifestyle?
E: Allergies have always been a part of my life so it isn’t a big deal to me at this point. I just avoid the foods that I can’t eat. Heat tends to make my skin really dry and itchy so I apply lots of moisturizers to lessen the effects. The biggest factor is simply getting adequate sleep because it improves my immune system’s “intelligence” and ability to recognize what is and what is not harmful 🙂
Knightly News: What do you do when you experience an allergic reaction?
E: I have pills and an Epipen that I can take if I ever do have a severe food reaction, and I simply treat my skin allergies on a daily basis to try to keep it under control.

Along with the avoidance of certain things to which one may be allergic and the consumption of antihistamines, there are also many “remedies” that(although they sound absurd) purportedly help alleviate the agitation of an allergic reaction. Here are some strange allergy treatments people suggested:

allergy remedies

Another point we have to remember is the fact that allergic reactions don’t always come in the form of mere sneezes and rashes. Allergies can be life threatening. PEOPLE HAVE DIED DUE TO ALLERGIC REACTIONS. Every year, more than 200 lives are lost to food allergies. It’s definitely something of extreme consequence. For example, children who are highly allergic to particular foods may experience anaphylaxis (a severe and quick reaction to food allergies) and immediately require an epipen.

It is of the utmost consequence that all of us are made aware of the seriousness of allergies and how people cope with them. It could be a matter of life…or death.

Here are some links you could visit to learn more about allergies:

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/allergy-triggers

http://www.allergyhome.org/schools/food_allergy_awareness_for_school_kids/

http://www.medicinenet.com/allergy/article.htm

 

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