Not to be sneezed at

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

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.

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