Allergies are becoming more and more common with around one in three people currently suffering from some sort of allergy. Yet I have found in clinical practice that people are not aware they are allergic to something that is causing recurrent and sometimes debilitating symptoms. A typical example of this is dustmite or mould allergy. The only sign you might notice is tiredness and headache or a postnasal drip that just does not seem to go away. Because allergies are so common and can cause significant health problems it is worth discussing how you can recognise if you have an allergy and also learn what you can do about it.
Why Are Allergies So Common?
We do not yet know exactly what is causing allergies to become so common. There have been many theories put forward including the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, which states that we live in a culture that is too clean and this is causing people to not develop proper immunity. Other concepts centre on our food not being the same as it used to be. Artificial colours, preservatives, flavours, and pesticides are responsible. Others state it is an imbalance between omega-6 and omega-3 fats in our diet that is causing more allergies or perhaps a change in the microbes that live in our gut that is responsible. Unfortunately at this stage in our understanding of why allergies develop we are left with a big question mark. Hopefully with developments in research we will know more in the coming years.
What Can You Develop Allergies to?
Common substances that people can be allergic to include:
- Cat, dog, and horse dander (hair)
I have even met patients who have been allergic to their own sweat, to the heat, and to contact with their own skin. They develop an itchy rash, welts, and in some cases nausea and a mild fever. These types of allergies are, luckily, rare and can be very difficult to manage.
What Are the Symptoms of Allergies?
Symptoms of allergies can range from mild to severe and in the case of anaphylaxis can be lethal. Symptoms depend on the allergy, but may include:
- Runny nose
- Postnasal drip
- Itchy throat
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Red, watery and itchy eyes
- Breathing problems
- Skin rash
- Stomach pains
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
Another common indication is fatigue. I recall a patient who was waking every morning feeling tired. She often clear her throat and regularly suffered from a sore throat. On further questioning she informed me that she would wake in the middle of the night with a dry mouth and required a glass of water beside her bed. This is a classic symptom of mouth breathing and is commonly associated with dustmite allergy. Dustmites live in bedding and feed off our dead skin cells. In those who are not allergic they cause no problem, but for those of us who react to dustmites going to bed can be difficult. When we discovered what her problem was and reduced her dustmite exposure, her symptoms greatly improved. In particular she is no longer waking exhausted. If you can relate to any of these symptoms it is worth speaking to your healthcare practitioner about the possibility of a dustmite allergy.
Holistic Medical Doctor