Health Topics

Healthy Living

August 2010
Managing Allergies
Medicines help treat your allergy symptoms once you have them, but there are several steps you can take to prevent symptoms before they occur. These recommendations can help you avoid allergy attacks wherever you are.

Allergen avoidance and other environmental control efforts are feasible and effective. Symptoms, pulmonary function test findings, and Airway HyperReactivity(AHR) improve with avoidance of environmental allergens. Removing even one of the many allergens can result in clinical improvement.

Environmental Causes
Environmental management of allergies is effective in most cases; the need for medication is reduced or even eliminated, and the well-being improves. Watch out for these:
  1. Personal or secondary tobacco smoke exposure, in or out of the home.
  2. Gas-burning stoves, fireplaces, or heaters used in the home.
  3. Sprays or chemicals while at work, home or when indulging in a hobby.
  4. Medications such as beta-blockers(including eye drops), aspirin, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  5. School or business associates with similar problems.
  6. Symptoms after eating (dried, canned, or processed food).
  7. Environmental medicine addresses a wide range of adverse responses to environmental factors, from atopic allergy to chronic toxicity. Between these extremes are a group of responses, which contribute to many common chronic disorders such as migraine and irritable bowel syndrome and often affect more than one organ system.
14 Tips to Avoid Allergens
  1. Switch to air-conditioning instead of fans, if you are allergic to pollen. Fans, stir up the dust, while the ACs suck it up.
  2. Filter the air. Cover air conditioning vents with cheesecloth to filter pollen and use a High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter (HEPA) if required. Clean air filters and air ducts frequently, at least once a year.
  3. Install dehumidifiers in basements and other areas of the house, where mould may collect; clean these devices every week. Avoid areas where moulds may collect, including basements, garages, barns, compost heaps; clean these areas often. Air out damp clothes and shoes (in the house) before storing. Wash shower curtains and bathroom tiles with mould-killing solutions.
  4. Keep pets outside, or perhaps ask someone else to take care of them. Animal dander and saliva are common allergens for many people. Do not allow pets in the bedroom and make sure to give them a wash often. Do not allow your pets to sit on the furniture.
  5. Don't leave wet clothes in the washing machine – remove the laundry promptly, and hang them out to dry.
  6. Don't collect too many indoor plants, as the soil encourages mould growth.
  7. Use plastic covers for pillows and mattresses. Avoid overstuffed furniture and down-filled bedding or pillows. Remove stuffed animals from the bed.
  8. Wash your bedding regularly in warm water.
  9. Don't allow smoking in your house.
  10. Wear a mask and gloves when cleaning, vacuuming, or painting to limit dust and chemical exposure.
  11. Limit throw rugs to reduce dust and mould. If you do have rugs, make sure they are washable.
  12. Choose hardwood floors instead of carpeting. If you must have carpeting, choose low pile material.
  13. Avoid Venetian blinds or long drapes, as they collect dust. Replace old drapes and use window shades instead.
  14. An exhaust fan over the stove is necessary to remove cooking fumes.
Amazing Amla
Vitamin C in high doses can have a dramatic effect in improving allergy symptoms, particularly hay fever and asthma, due to its ability to counteract the inflammation responses that are part of such conditions. Amla or Amalaki(Indian gooseberry) contains the highest natural source of vitamin C and has been traditionally used to promote immunity.
  • Amla contains 720 mg of vitamin C for every 100 g of fresh pulp or up to 900 mg of vitamin C for every 100 g of pressed juice.
  • The vitamin C in amla is of a heat-stable form which does not lose its value through processing.This is one reason it is an essential ingredient in every chyavanprash.
  • Since amla also contains tannis, its dried form retains most of the vitamin content.
  • Amla fruit juice is reported to contain nearly 20 times as much vitamin C as orange juice.
  • The edible amla fruit tissue has three times the protien concentration and 160 times the ascorbic acid concentration of an apple.
  • An amla fruit also contains considerably higher concentration of most minerals and amino acids than apples.
  • Amla fruit also contains chromium, zinc, and copper.

Dr.S.Ananth is Sr.Consultant - Internal Medicine at Apollo Hospitals, Chennai