does allergy means?
Allergy is an acquired altered body response of a person
to normally harmless substance which usually does not
affect most people in their daily life.
name is given to a substance which produces allergy?
Any foreign substance that provokes reaction in the body
is called an allergen.
Please tell me about different types of allergens?
The different types of substances producing allergy are
pollen grains of flowers, dust particles, house dust
mite, outdoor & indoor molds or fungus, insect venom of
bee / wasp, animal dander like sloughed off skin, saliva
and excreta of dog cat etc, secretions and excretions of
birds, body parts and excreta of insects i.e cockroach,
foods like milk, egg, fish, prawns, beef, mutton
,chicken, peanuts, & some drugs like penicillin, sulfa
drugs, insulin, etc.
other drugs can cause breathing problem ?
Drugs used to treat blood pressure (beta blockers) like
Tenormin and Aspirin, NSAID’s (pain relieving drugs)
produce cough, wheeze and asthma like symptoms in
are common indoor allergens?
The common ones are:
• House dust
mite present in the dust of carpets, old books,
furniture, boxes, blankets, mattress and stuffed toys.
• Presence of
the body parts and excreta of cockroaches where
cleanliness is lacking and ample garbage is left
uncovered which also serve as a food factor for these
• Indoor mold
or fungal growth in dark damp places, basements,
toilets, leaking pipe area & wall papers which collect
humidity thus helping in the proliferation of molds as
well as dust mite.
• Dander of cat
Yes, if both parents are allergic then there is a
tendency that the child has 55- 60% chance of developing
allergies. If one parent is affected than the chance is
40%. The chance decreases further if grand parents or
siblings have allergies.
Beside allergens, what other factors can increase
Beside allergens, other factors that increase allergy in
susceptible persons are preservatives, pollutants or
irritants i.e. food preservatives, coloring agents and
preservatives in cosmetics etc. cigarette or automobile
smoke, cold air, perfumes, air fresheners, chemical
sprays, fumes of gases like nitrogen dioxide, sulphur
dioxide, carbon monoxide released from vehicles,
industries, gas stoves or from burning of fuel like
wood, dung etc used in homes for cooking /heating
purpose, vapors of varnish, paints, polish etc can also
Q. How can I understand
that my sneezing and running nose is due to cold or due
If you get a cold symptom which is a viral infection,
then you will suffer from mild fever, sore throat, some
sneezing, thick mucous in nose, nasal obstruction aches
and pains etc. But if the symptoms are due to allergy
than you will get itching in eyes, nose, intense
sneezing, watery discharge from the nose, dry irritating
cough and no fever.
is allergic rhinitis?
when some allergy producing particles enters the nose
and comes in contact with the internal linning of the
nose than as a reaction their is swelling and
inflammation in the nose and the patient suffers from
symptoms like sneezing, nasal itching , watery nasal
dripping, watering of eyes and mild sore throat etc.
is hay fever?
Hay fever is also called seasonal allergic rhinitis
because it often occurs in a specific season. It is
mostly seen in spring season when pollen count is high
in the air or in early summers when harvesting is done
and there is a lot of thresher dust in the air.
Q. If I
have a nasal problem all the year round what is it
This is called perennial allergic rhinitis and it is
mostly due to house dust mite, indoor molds or animal
Please give me some tips regarding my allergy?
• Use filter
face mask when you go out in dusty area or are doing any
• Avoid to go in gardens during pollen season and also
avoid smelling flowers. use gloves when you do gardening
and wash hands after work.
• To reduce pollen exposure, wash your hair before going
to bed. This removes pollen entangled in the hair
• Avoid cat, dog and birds. Their fur, shed off skin
cells, salivary secretions or excreta/ bird droppings
can cause allergy or increase your already existing
• Prefer air conditioner as compared to room cooler
which increase humidity and help in increasing mite
growth. However, wash the filter of your air conditioner
once or twice during the season because it can collect
outdoor mold spores.
• If you are an allergic patient avoid unnecessary
furniture ,carpets/rugs in the bed room, keep your
living place clean and wet dusting /wet mop and
vacuuming should be done once a week preferably by some
• If you have eye allergy use good quality sun
spectacles containing glazed glass. It can protect your
eyes from dust, sun rays and rays coming out from the
computer’s monitor screen. Don’t use contact lenses
because lens use can increase the eye problem in
sensitive individuals and even you can get an eye
infection and some time pollen grains can even get trap
beneath the lens.
• It is better for you to carry some common allergy
medications if you are traveling out of the city.
• Cover your mattresses and pillows with mite proof
casings made of plastic or vinyl coverings and wash your
linens once a week in hot water at 130F or approximately
54C to kill the dust mites living on your shed off skin.
• Do nasal lavage with saline solution one hour before
going to bed so that all the water is removed and as a
precautionary measure sleep with your head slightly
• To control cockroaches use insecticide sprays when you
are not in your home otherwise traps are the preferable
option. Maintain cleanliness in your home especially
kitchen. Cover garbage container and don’t throw food in
your kitchen sink which could be a good source of food
supply for the insect’s living and proliferation.
• Remove stuffed animal ,and stuffed toys.
Q. How allergens or other factors enter my body?
Allergens or other factors can enter your body through
many routes i.e through your nose while you breathe or
through mouth when you eat or even do mouth breathing,
other ways of entry could be direct absorption through
your skin or through your muscles when you receive
Please tell me which body parts are affected by allergy?
The body parts affected by allergy are nose(nasal
allergy), bronchial tube and lungs (bronchial/ lung
allergy), intestine (intestinal allergy causing allergic
diarrhea /abdominal cramps), skin (skin allergy causing
rashes, eczema etc).
are other signs of allergy?
The sign and symptoms of allergic rhinitis are
sneezing accompanied by running nose, coughing and
postnasal drip, itching in the eyes, nose and throat and
watery eyes. The sign and symptoms of asthma are feeling
of tightness in the chest, cough, breathlessness and
wheezing. The sign and symptoms of eczema include red,
itchy and dry skin.
of my friends say that if your teeth are alright and
still you develop toothache especially if you are
suffering from cold it is because of a sinus problem, is
Yes, if your teeth are alright but toothache lingers on
for some time than it is necessary that you should
consult an ENT specialist who will examine you and where
necessary he will exclude the sinus problem through
conducting x-ray’s of the paranasal cavities of your
can I reduce dust in my house?
You can reduce dust in your house by taking following
carpets especially wall to wall carpets which collect
dust ,animal dander, dust mite etc
• Remove unnecessary furniture from your bedroom, these
• Use wet mop to clean furniture .
• Do vacuum cleaning of your carpets.
• Hang your clothes in almirah in a plastic cover or
keep them in plastic bags.
• Keep your shoes in cupboard or boxes.
• Keep windows close especially if they open to wards
• Use filter face mask while cleaning.
house dust is harmful to some people?
House dust is a mixture of many substances and may
contain fabric fiber, microscopic creatures like dust
mite, mold spores, body parts of cockroaches and many
other debris. These things can sensitize a susceptible
can I get rid of house dust mite?
There is no definite way of getting rid of house dust
mite but you can be benefited if you wash your bed linen
and pillow covers, blankets in hot water up to 50-55
degree centigrade once a week. Also encase your pillows
and mattresses in air tight covers. Use wet mop to
remove dust and vacuum your carpets & curtains. Remove
stuffed toys and wall papers from asthmatic person room
because they collect dust and moisture which are factors
for the presence and growth of dust mite.
are the symptoms of food allergy?
A. You may
experience itching in throat & mouth, hives on body,
swelling of lips, eye lids and in severe cases,
vomiting, difficulty in breathing etc.
common food provoke food allergy and please tell me
about the cross reacting foods.
Food Allergy Cross Reacting Food
Cows Milk Goat Milk
Shrimps Other similar sea food
Peanut Soy bean, green peas, green beans.
Wheat Grains like rye etc
are different type of occupation related allergic
The different types of occupational related
allergic diseases are occupational asthma and
occupational rhinitis in bakers, flour mill workers,
farmers and cotton workers from flour dust, mold and
plant dust. Skin allergies like contact urticaria and
contact dermatitis seen in cooks, barbers, dentist,
surgeons and other medical professionals from various
food items, detergents, shampoos, hair dyes, soaps, talc
powder, plaster of Paris and latex gloves etc.
Should I stop eating rice, curd, milk or cereals in my
There is no scientific reason to stop these food items
in your diet unless there is some clue about any food
allergy. A balanced diet containing all necessary food
items is good for your health.
have heard that patients allergic to pollen have cross
reaction to other food items, please tell me the name of
some of these foods?
Some time cross reaction to certain foods can occur if
pollen allergic patients eat green apples, peaches,
almonds, tomatoes, potatoes. This is mostly true for
patients sensitive to birch pollen and grass.
is a pollen ?
They are Minute microscopic grains or the reproductive
cell, produced and shed by flowers ,weeds, herbs, shrubs
and trees etc. They are oval and round in shape and in
urdu language they are called zardana.
Which type of plants produce allergy producing pollens?
Pollen shed / produced by some of the trees, weeds,
grasses which are plain looking plants can produce
allergic reaction in sensitive people. The plants which
produce colorful beautiful flowers are less allergenic.
Please tell me the names of some common allergy
The allergy producing plants as identified by NIH are
Paper Mulberry or Jungli Shahtoot,Eucalyptus or Safaida,
Canabis or Bhang, Acacia or Phalai & Keeker, Sun flower
or Suraj Mukhi, Bottles Brush, Zea Maize or Makai, Pinus
or Cheer, mix grasses like Kubble, Dubb, Timothy grass,
Meadow grass, hedge like Sanatha,other plants are Sorgum
orJjawar, Sumbul, Hibiscus or Gul-e-Kaira.
Please tell me the peak pollen time when I should be
more careful while going out?
The peak time at which the pollen count is high in the
atmosphere is 5:00 am to 10:00 a,m. in the morning and
5:00 p.m. to midnight. At this time the pollen is heavy
and is at the ground level. It is better to avoid these
hours but if it is unavoidable then you can use a filter
mask to cover your nose while going out.
Please tell me why pollen count is high during morning
and evening times?
The pollen count is high during these hours because the
atmosphere is cool and the pollen is heavy so most of
the pollen is present at the ground level but after
10:00 am the pollen loose moisture becomes lighter and
rises as high as 2000 meters in air. In the evening as
the day cools the pollen gather moisture becomes heavy
and comes to the ground level again.
Please tell me why pollen allergy problem is high in
Islamabad during pollen season?
A. There are many
cases of pollen allergy during spring season in
Islamabad mostly because of the growth of male paper
mulberry plant. This plant produces catkin or toot. Each
catkin produces more than 200 flowers and each flower
shed more than 3-6 million pollen during the spring
season. Thus there is a lot of pollen in the atmosphere.
During spring season the count reaches up to more than
40,000 pollen per cubic meter affecting mostly sensitive
indivisuals. How ever the possibility of frequent/high
exposures in less sensitive individuals making them
prone to become sensetised cannot be excluded.
child is getting frequent respiratory infections but I
avoid antibiotics and use home made remedies to control
it, is there any chance for him to develop asthma?
No doubt your child’s exposure to respiratory infection
is a problem but these children have less chance to
develop asthma as their immune /defence system has
become well developed due to frequent exposure to common
pathogens in their childhood. In case of attack by the
micro-organisms the immune system recognizes them and
combact the infection by release of various defensive
factors thus the chances of asthma is decreased in them.
have heart burn at night, should I consult my care
You should consult your treating physician because
regurgitation at night can lead to acid aspiration into
your airway irritating and inflaming the inner linning
of the windpipe and thus you can get irritant induced
Q. I am
an asthmatic and now a days due to my work load I am
under stress please tell me whether this psychological
stress would affect my disease ?
Try to get out of this stress because asthmatics are
sensitive to stressful conditions. Psychological stress
play part either by modifying your behavior for example
smoking a lot of cigarettes per day exposes the person
to cigarette smoke which in turn can act as an irritant
and affects the lungs or some other stressful condition
can make the nervous system to release certain factors
or hormones in the body affecting the immune system
which in turn helps in increasing the level of bad
immunoglobulin IgE in the body which could affect the
doctor when ever I do sternous work or do any exercise I
become breathless what should I do?
Sternous or heavy work and exercise are known triggers
for getting an asthmatic attack because quick breathing
( increase ventilation) and inhalation of large amount
of cold dry air can bring an asthmatic attack. It is
better to reduce or avoid such activities.
Q. I am
breast feeding my baby who is seven months old, is it
beneficial for him because I am suffering from allergic
Yes, breast feeding is beneficial and protective for
your child. There is evidence that breast feeding
reduces the risk of atopic disease in offspring’s of
Q. I am
obese and asthmatic and I want to know if obesity has
any effect on my disease?
Yes, it is recommended that obese patients should reduce
their weight this would help them to have good asthma
diet is beneficial for my child who is suffering from
A balanced diet containing fruits and vegetable
is effective because food and vegetable contain certain
substances which protect the lungs from damage caused by
brother is ten years old and since one year he
frequently develops recurrent wheeze, recurrent
difficult breathing, cough which is worse at night, his
cold goes to the chest and take more than ten days to
clear up. The symptom increases in winter season and
worsen after exertion, please tell me what to do?
From the type of symptoms which you have mentioned it
appears that your brother is suffering from asthma, you
should consult the chest physician who will investigate
the child by doing lung function test to confirm the
diagnosis of asthma and he will then advise treatment
according to the condition of the lungs.
child has moderate to severe asthma attack during winter
season, is it advisable to vaccinate him with influenza
vaccine every year?.
Yes, it is safe to vaccinate him with inactivated
influenza vaccine as advised by your physician.
have a cat in my house and since few months I am feeling
difficulty in my breathing. What should I do?
Remove the cat from your house or at least sleeping
area, it is the animal dander which is causing you to
breathe with difficulty.
have asthma and I want to know that in which season
/weather I should take more care?
In spring season when pollen is high you should be
careful. You should also be careful in rainy season
(July-August) and winter season (Oct-Jan) when mold and
viral infections can aggravate your problem. Wheat crop
harvesting season (May-June) is troublesome for asthma
and allergic rhinitis patients when huge amount of
thresher dust is present in the environment. Avoid going
in fields and when you are traveling you should use face
mask. Patients living in cotton growing areas of Punjab
and Sindh should take care during winter season when the
cotton harvesting is done.
Q. I am
suffering from asthma and planning to have a baby. What
should I do?
If you are asthmatic and are planning to become
pregnant, you should consult your doctor regarding your
asthma and medications.
have constant but mild allergy symptoms, what should I
Constant low grade allergy symptoms are more annoying
than occasional severe symptoms because it disturbs your
good night sleep, concentration at work and you don’t
feel fresh, so do not ignore the symptoms and allow it
to linger on, do consult an allergy specialist to get in
what age allergies are more encountered?
No age is exempted, allergy or allergic reaction can
occur at any time in your life from birth to adulthood
but teenagers are more susceptible.
asthma be cured permanently?
No, it can not, but like hypertension, diabetes and some
other diseases with proper care and medication it could
be controlled and one can lead a normal life.
Q. I am
allergic to bee venom and my son is allergic to
penicillin group of antibiotics, what should I do?
It is necessary that you and your son should wear a
bracelet or carry a card indicating allergy to bee venom
and penicillin group of drugs and always carry a kit
containing adrenaline and solucortef injection, so that
any life threatening allergic reactions could be
controlled by the emergency doctor in case you or your
son get a reaction.
Q. Is it true that people
allergic to wasp venom are also allergic to bee venom?
It is not true because bee and wasp venom contain
different allergens. People allergic to wasp venom are
rarely allergic to bee venom.
Q. I am
a bee keeper and exposed to bee sting, am I at risk to
develop bee sting allergy?
Yes, If you are stung frequently by bees than there is a
possibility that you can become allergic to bee venom.
Should I get allergy shots?
If you feel that you have tried all types of medication
for your allergy and still it is not improving and
allergen preventing/controlling measures are also
difficult, it is advisable to get an advice from your
treating physician before considering to get allergy
is the method to get allergy shots?
On the basis of your clinical history and positive skin
prick test the doctor has diagnosed that you are
suffering from allergy. He has also identified the
problem causing allergen by performing the diagnostic
test, and now in gradual incremental doses you will
receive subcutaneous allergy shots for an optimal
Q. How long I have to
continue my vaccine treatment?
If you are doing well you will have to continue your
treatment for a period of three to five years. How ever
in some cases the period is individualized by the
allergist depending upon the response of the person.
necessary precautionary measures should be taken before
and after the allergy vaccine is prescribed?
Before receiving allergy shots your clinical diagnosis
regarding allergy should be clear. Stop taking
antihistamines, steroids and tranquillizers for 2-3
weeks. After receiving an allergy shot wait for 15- 20
minutes in the hospital before you move. Keep your
vaccine in refrigerator at 4-8 degree centigrade, don’t
freeze it and use insulin syringe for receiving
does allergy vaccine help?
Allergy shots either down regulate your immune response
or produce an immune deviation/shift so that the
production of bad immunoglobulins called IgE is
Please tell me some home remedies for my running nose
You could take preventive measures by wearing filter
face mask and using saline solution for nasal wash. You
can prepare it at home by taking distil or boiled water
in a cup and adding a pinch of table salt to it. Put
this solution in a sinus rinse bottle/ordinary nasal
drops bottle and do nasal lavage/nasal wash once/twice a
day.This method will help in reducing/washing off
allergens trapped in the cilia of your nose. Also apply
petroleum jelly to both the nostrils so that the
allergens are trapped at the exit point of your nares
and thus gain no entry inside.
should I do for my itching skin?
Apply emollients before and after taking bath.
You can clean yourself using a none perfumed colorless
In case of intense itching apply an ice cube to the area
where you want to scratch, so that the itch-scratch
cycle is stopped.
Take bath by putting one cup of vinegar in your bathing
tub, it will produce a soothing effect on your body and
will help in relieving your itch.
should I do to prevent chest congestion?
A. Drink hot
liquids, soups and cinnamon green tea. Take steam
inhalation once or twice a day. If you have difficulty
in breathing or a wheeze than nebulize your self.
Q. I am
using a steroid inhaler, some time I get soreness in my
mouth, what should I do?
The soreness in your mouth is due to deposition of the
dry powder in your mouth helping in the growth of oral
candidal infection which is a fungal infection. To
prevent this, use a spacer device with your metered dose
inhaler and do mouth washing after using a dry powdered
Please guide me about my asthma and allergy drugs?
The drugs are in the form of tablets, inhalers &
injections. You should use them as advised by your
doctor, who has prescribed them according to the
severity and type of your asthma or allergy problem.
Q. I am
afraid of using steroids, my friend says it will affect
my health, what should I do?
Steroids in inhaler form are safe as compared to oral or
injection form. Use inhaler according to the advice of
your doctor, shake it well before use and learn the
proper technique of using inhaler from your care
Q. What are hives?
Hives are called urticaria in English language, draper
in Urdu or Punjabi, Larama or Matakay in Pushto.It is
the sudden onset of red itchy and swollen lesions
appearing any where on the body with round or irregular
borders. They occur as a result of allergic reaction in
the skin due to exposure to allergens and in most cases
disappear within six hours.
there is itching and swelling in hives?
The cells present
in the skin are damaged by the allergens resulting in
the release of histamine and other factors from these
cells. These allergy producing factors causes itching,
swelling and redness in the skin.
the hives don’t subside within six hours and last longer
than twentyfour hours than in that case what should be
If this situation occurs than consult a skin specialist
because now it is not an ordinary hives problem but a
problem of blood vessels underlying the skin and needs
to be investigated.
times my brother develops swelling of his lips and
become ugly and feel quite embarrass, Please tell me
what to do?
When the soft tissues of the lips or the area around the
eyes become swollen it is called angioedema and needs to
be investigated by your treating physcian so that the
cause is identified and that your brother gets the right
Asthma is a
condition in which there is a breathing problem. The
main wind pipe called bronchus divides into smaller
tubes called bronchi which open’s into both sides of the
lungs. In sensitive individuals these bronchi are
hypersensitive or hyper responsive and when ever some
allergen or pollutant comes in contact with the inner
lining of the bronchi, then the bronchi respond
intensely resulting in sudden narrowing of the tubes
with excessive mucous secretion adding more to the
narrowing effect and the person becomes restless using
extra efforts to breath, takes a sitting postures, uses
his chest muscles to take out breath, develop cough and
produce whistling sounds called wheeze.
Q. My friend is asthmatic,
last year he was well controlled with no emergency
department visit but this year he is having frequent
visits what should he do ?
A. Your friend
should see his treating physician because there could be
two main possibilities for his uncontrolled asthma:
1 Either the prescribed medication
could be inadequate and he need treatment on a higher
side that is the addition of some other drug or
increasing the present dose.
The prescribed medication is correct but the patient is
taking it incorrectly i.e taking his drugs irregularly
or taking wrong /low dose or not taking any drug at all.