Allergy is an abnormal immunogenic response in which your body develop hypersensitivities to foreign substances such as inhalants, chemicals and food. It involves the over-activation of white blood cells (mainly mast cells and basophil) by the antibodies IgE; this can trigger localized or even systematic inflammatory responses. An allergic reaction can be exhibited in multiple organ systems, producing wide range of symptoms.
Common inhalants that can trigger allergic reactions include: dust, mold, cat & dog dander, perfume, mites and pollens. They can induce symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, watery eyes, breathing difficulties, rhinitis and asthma. Some inhalants can also affect the skin, causing itchiness, hives, and rashes.
The best way to manage inhalant allergies is the complete avoidance of allergens. This may not be feasible given the fact that these allergy-inducing inhalants are found everywhere in the environment. However, many precautions can be made to help manage your inhalant allergies. For example, installation of air purifier with HEPA filters, prevention and proper remediation of mold growth at home can significantly improve the indoor air quality in your living environment.
Food Allergies & intolerance
Food allergy is one of the most prevalent health problems; it affects up to 6.56% of adults and 7.14% of children in Canada. Food allergy can cause a large variety of symptoms, ranging from immediate respiratory and/or dermatological reactions to delayed gastrointestinal symptoms. Currently, over 170 different foods have been reported to cause allergic reaction; among them peanut, tree nuts, sesame, milk and eggs are the most common food allergies. Food allergies should not be confuse with food intolerance. Food allergies refer to the body's immunological response to the proteins found in food, in which the immune system mistook the foreign food proteins as harmful substances and mount an "attack" towards the protein. Food intolerance, on the other hand, refers to the body's inability to process a food protein or sugar. For example, for patients who suffer from lactose intolerance, their body is not capable of breaking down the milk sugar lactose; while celiac patients are unable to break down the gluten protein found in wheat products. Food allergic reactions tend to be immediate, though delayed symptoms relating to gastrointestinal tract have also been widely observed. Food intolerance usually causes gastrointestinal symptoms such as cramping, bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea.
In OEHC, food intolerance and allergy is diagnosed through 2 major methods. The first one is elimination diet, and it begins with identifying the potential culprit food in the diet and to eliminate them gradually. During the elimination phase, the patients would keep record of any changes in symptoms (if there is any). The culprit food items will then be reintroduced one by one to observe if it inflicts any symptoms. The second method involves the administration of allergy extract to detect any allergic symptoms.