Not to be sneezed at
Most people have endured the odd sneeze around something that “doesn’t agree” but allergy sufferers face lifethreatening situations every day.
Allergy New Zealand’s awareness week to tomorrow is aimed at raising people’s understanding of a problem that hits one in three Kiwis.
They occur when a person’s immune system over-reacts to substances – allergens – in the environment.
For those with allergies the immune system identifies the allergen and begins to create antibodies that trigger cells to release chemicals, including histamine, causing the allergic reaction.
Symptoms depend on where the allergen enters the body. Pollen is breathed in and usually causes hayfever. Food allergies are more often associated with stomach or bowel problems.
The symptoms can be categorised according to the organs affected: • Skin: Hives, eczema and facial swelling • Respiratory: Hayfever, throat swelling and coughing, wheezing and bronchospasm • Gastrointestinal: Nausea, vomiting, stomach pains and diarrhoea • Cardiovascular: Fainting, weakness, pallor, floppiness – particularly in infants, and collapse.
The most common causes of allergic reaction here are dust mites, pollen, furry or hairy animals, food such as peanuts, seafood, fish and shellfish, cow’s milk, eggs and soy, insect stings, drugs, mould and latex.
Information, visit Allergy New Zealand’s website at www.allergy.org.nz.