The first thing you need to know about your allergies is what’s causing them. So if you’re in any doubt, keep a record of when and where symptoms occur to help find out whether they are time, season, pet or food-related, or occur more indoors or outdoors.
Your doctor may recommend tests such as the ‘skin prick test’ which involves putting drops of suspected allergens (the substances that cause allergies) on the skin, then lightly pricking the skin through the drop with a needle. Any sensitivity to a particular allergen will show up as an itchy, red, raised area.
Reducing exposure to allergens
Once the allergy culprit has been identified, the most effective strategy is simple avoidance which is relatively straightforward for many food allergies. But this can prove difficult with airborne allergens like the pollens and spores responsible for hayfever.
If a dog or cat is the problem and removal is not an option, frequent washing will help reduce dander, the loose skin flakes that can cause allergic reactions. It’s also best to keep pets out of bedrooms and out of the house altogether if possible.
If you suspect that dust mites are causing allergies, wash sheets, pillow cases and other bedding weekly in hot water. In addition, cover mattresses, pillows and quilts with dust mite resistant covers.
If possible, consider replacing carpets with hard floors such as wood or tiles because carpets can act as reservoirs for the mites.
1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Allergic Rhinitis Web Report. Available at: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/asthma-other-chronic-respiratory-conditions/allergic-rhinitis-hay-fever/data. Date accessed November 20171. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Allergic Rhinitis Web Report. Available at: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/asthma-other-chronic-respiratory-conditions/allergic-rhinitis-hay-fever/data. Date accessed November 2017 2. Walker JACI 2007