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Frequently Asked Questions

Allergy and Immunology

What are common allergy symptoms?

Signs of a mild to moderate allergic reaction are:

  • Tingling mouth
  • Swelling of the lips, face, eyes
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting (these are signs of anaphylaxis for insect allergy)

Hives or welts Signs of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) are:

  • Swelling of tongue
  • Difficult/noisy breathing
  • Wheezing/persistent cough
  • Swelling/tightness in throat
  • Dizziness, light-headedness or collapse
  • Pale and floppy (young children)
  • Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice

What are hives?

Hives are itchy, raised lumps on the skin that can spread from one area of the body to another over several hours or days.

What is immunotherapy?

Also referred to as desensitisation, immunotherapy is the next best thing to a cure for your allergy. It involves exposure to increasing amounts of the allergen over time to desensitise your immune system and decrease allergy symptoms.

How do I use nasal spray?

  1. Before using nasal spray blow your nose to clear any mucus.
  2. Shake the pressurised canister or pump bottle.
  3. If using a canister, keep your head upright. If using a bottle, tilt your head forward slightly. Place the spray tip into the nostril. Breathe out slowly.
  4. Use your free hand to close the nostril not receiving medicine.
  5. Start breathing in slowly through your nose then activate the pump or spray and continue to breathe in slowly. When used correctly, the spray will not drip from your nose or down the back of your throat.
  6. Repeat steps 3 to 5 on the other side.
  7. Try not to sneeze or blow your nose right away.

Is there such a thing as a non-allergenic pet?

Hair or fur is not the culprit when it comes to pet allergies. Animal dander (tiny flecks of skin) and proteins found in the saliva, urine and feces of most common pets are the allergens. So even if you have a Sphynx cat, which is a hairless breed, you’ll still be exposed to the same allergens.

What are dust mites and can I get rid of them?

Dust mites are microscopic pests found nearly everywhere that feed on dead human skin cells found in dust. They live in bedding, carpets, curtains and upholstered furniture. They create an allergen that triggers allergic reactions and asthma in many people.

You can reduce dust mites in your home by:

  • Reducing humidity
  • Reducing upholstered furniture, removing carpets and curtains and covering mattresses and pillows
  • Frequently mopping the floors
  • Washing your sheets and bedding in hot water and considering airing your mattress in the sun each year

What is Lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to become hyperactive. The immune system attacks healthy tissue because it loses its ability to differentiate between viruses or bacteria and normal, healthy cells. Lupus can affect joints, skin, lungs, kidneys, the brain, blood vessels and other internal organs.

What is Raynaud's phenomenon?

This is a disorder that affects blood vessels in the fingers, toes, ears and the tip of the nose with particular sensitivity to the cold. Blood vessels constrict when the body experiences cold cutting off the blood supply to the affected area. The limited blood flow causes the affected areas to feel cold and numb. The skin also turns blue temporarily and then red as blood flow returns to the area. Raynaud’s phenomenon may occur alone (primary Raynaud’s) or in association with other conditions such as lupus (secondary Raynaud’s).