A Few Words of Wisdom

Allergies and Asthma


An allergic reaction is when the body's defence system responds to a substance that doesn't affect most people. Allergies can be caused by many different substances and cause a wide range of symptoms. They can develop at anytime in life. Most allergies are unpleasant but not dangerous, although in a few people they can cause serious illness.

Signs and Symptoms

Allergic reactions can affect the whole body or just the are of contact. The skin, airways and eyes are usually worst affected. Symptoms may include:
  • •  Sore, itchy, blotchy skin
  • •  Chest tightness
  • •  Shortness of breath
  • •  Blocked or running nose, sneezing
  • •  Eye irritation
  • •  Long-term digestive problems
  • •  Fluid retention
  • •  Fatigue


The best way to deal with an allergy is to avoid the cause completely. If this is not possible, reduce your exposure as much as you can. The following steps may help:
  • •  Wear hypoallergenic gloves
  • •  Use a filter in the vacuum cleaner to remove dust mite droppings
  • •  Wear protective clothing when handling material such as cement
  • •  Wear a filter face mask in dusty areas
  • •  Check food labels for substances causing allergies (e.g. peanut products)
  • •  Use a barrier cream on exposed skin
  • •  Try changing your clothes soap powder or fabric conditioner


Asthma is a condition that causes the airways to become inflamed and obstructed, so that breathing becomes difficult. It appears mostly in childhood but can also appear for the first time in adults. Many children grow out of asthma as they get older.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms can also include an itchy or sore throat, or painful chest muscles. You may cough up some mucus and phlegm (a 'chesty' cough), although this does not always happen ('dry' cough).
  • •  Breathlessness
  • •  Wheezing (breathing with difficulty with a whistle sound)
  • •  Coughing (often mucus)
  • •  Sweating and a fast pulse rate, if there is great difficulty breathing
  • •  Coughing at night in children


  • •  Try to identify the things that cause your asthma and avoid them.
  • •  Avoid smoke of all kinds and stay indoors when air pollution is high
  • •  Keep your home as free of dust as possible, and avoid hairy pets, carpets and other soft furnishings.
  • •  Do regular moderate activity (e.g. swimming). If exercise causes an asthma attack, talk to your doctor about it.
  • •  Avoid asprin, ibuprofen or cold and cough medicines unless your doctor tells you to take them./li>