Respiratory allergies

Specialty of Paediatrics

What are respiratory allergies?

Respiratory allergies occur when the immune system has a negative reaction to certain substances such as dust, pollen or the hair of certain animals. These allergies are very common and can occur at any age. The body acts against a certain substance: the allergen. The most common allergens in respiratory allergies are pollen, dust, mould, and hair or animal dander.

What are the symptoms of respiratory allergies?

The most common manifestations are rhinitis, bronchial asthma, and alveolitis. The main symptoms are:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy throat
  • Itchy nose
  • Mucus
  • Coughing and difficulty breathing

What causes respiratory allergies?

Allergies are caused by the immune system identifying a particular substance (the allergen) as being harmful to the body, even when the substance itself is normally harmless. The immune system reacts to the allergen (allergic reaction) when they are breathed in. It is speculated that repeated exposure to a particular substance may increase the likelihood of a respiratory allergy developing, though the general causes of allergies are not completely understood.

The chances of developing or having a respiratory allergy are increased should you already have one type of allergy, or if you have asthma. Children are more likely to experience respiratory allergies, although they sometimes grow out of them.

What are the treatments for respiratory allergies?

The best way to ‘treat’ a respiratory allergy is to avoid the allergen itself entirely. However, this can be difficult as it can be hard to avoid a particular trigger. Certain medications, such as anti-histamines, and over-the-counter drugs sold at pharmacies, can help to control respiratory allergies.

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