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27 May - 2 June 2014

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Indoor Allergy Symptoms and Cure Namaskar- respected readers, I am SobhaSharma,Superintendent Pharmacist and owner of two pharmacies based in South East London. I am of Nepali origin and have done a masters degree in Pharmacy at the UCL school of Pharmacy. I qualified as a Pharmacist in 2005 and have worked many years in Boots as a Pharmacist before opening my own Pharmacies-Neem Tree Pharmacy in Abbey Wood and Woolwich Late night Pharmacy in Woolwich. My aim is to serve the Nepalese community and to give something back to the community. I grew up in London myself and I understand how hard it is for some parents/grandparents to be able to speak to the Doctor or even other healthcare professionals about their medical problems due to language

1.What are the symptoms of an indoor allergy? The symptoms of an indoor allergy are similar to cold symptoms. After exposure to the allergen- the early phase of an indoor allergy starts within minutesthe symptoms include sneezing, running nose, blocked nose, itchiness of the eyes, nose and throat, headache and rashes. In the late stage which happens 4-8 hours after exposurethe symptoms include feeling tired, sleepy and generally unwell. 2.How can you tell the difference between a cold and an indoor or winter allergy? The main differences are that in winter allergies the nasal secretions are clear and watery, itchy eyes and throat will be present and the symptoms will persist for weeks and may be intermittent. In a cold however the nasal secretions are coloured, there may be chills and body aches and the symptoms normally go in a few days. 3.What are the main allergens that cause indoor allergies? An indoor allergy is triggered when you breathe in small particles of an allergen Common allergens are: House dust mites- which are tiny microscopic insects, which thrive in warm and humid environments likemattresses, carpets, soft furniture, pillowsandbeds. The allergy is caused by a chemical found in their faeces. Dust mites are present all year round but their numbers

usually peak during spring and autumn. Pet AllergensThe allergy is caused by an allergen found in the saliva, dander (dead skin flakes) or urine of an animal with fur.While dander and saliva are the source of cat and dog allergens, urine is the source of allergens from rabbits, hamsters, mice and guinea pigs; Some indoor allergies can be triggered by an infestation of pests, such as mice or cockroaches. Indoor MouldsThe allergy is caused bytiny spores which moulds release into the air which can be swallowed, triggering an allergic reaction. Indoor moulds and mildew need dampness typically found in basements, bathrooms or anywhere with leaks. Fungal moulds can grow anywhere inside your house where there is natural material, such as wood, paper, food, plants and some types of insulation. Occupational allergies :Several allergens are also found in certain workplaces e.g Chemicals ,wood

dust, latex, animals, flour dust What happens in the body during an allergic reaction and why do some people react but not others? When the allergen comes into contact with the nose and throat,a special protein called immunoglobulin E (lgE) is released. lgE is released by the immune system in response to exposure to the allergen, the aim being to fight off any potential infections. The body reacts to an allergen because it mistakes it for a harmful invader such as a virus. Therefore to counteract this attackantibodies like IgE is released. IgE in turn causes other blood cells to release a chemical called histamine into the blood. Histamine is the main chemical that causes allergy symptoms. Histamine release triggers irritation in the upper respiratory tract making the respiratory passages swell and produce typical allergy symptoms like snnezing, runny or bloacked nose,

barriers. I am here to help and I would be happy to write about any health issues and give any medication or health related advice- please email me at your questions and suggestions on any topics you would like me to include in future. If you live in Greenwich and have any urgent health or medication related issues please visit my two Pharmacies as I can personally give advice or my well qualified staff. We will always have access to Nepali staff in both pharmacies. Thank you and I hope you enjoy my articles. This week my topic is on indoor allergy symptoms as this is a common season to suffer from allergy symptoms. These are common questions that I am asked on this topic.

Common symptoms of smoke irritation are burning or watery eyes, nasal congestion, coughing, hoarseness and shortness of breath presenting as a wheeze. itchy and teary eyes. Histamine also causes swelling of mucous membranes inside the nose causing congestion and the production of excess mucus, which occurs as a result of the swelling and causes a runny nose and sneezing. This is all a reaction triggered by the immune system to protect the body but some people are more sensitive to allergens than others and can suffer serious allergy symptoms which may affect their quality of life. It is not known why

some people develop over-sensitivity to allergens. However, there seems to be a genetic link( tends to run in families)and also exposure to cigarette smoke during childhood also seems to increase the risk of developing an indoor allergy later in life. What are the best medicines for indoor allergies and are they available over the counter? Over the counter we have nasal decongestants , antihistamines and corticosteroids to treat indoor allergy symptoms. Nasal decongestants are available to buy in a pharmacy e.g Sudafed nasal spray or otrivine nasal spray Oral antihistamines work by blocking the action of the chemical histamine in the body. Some of them are available over the counter in a pharmacy e.gpiriton,Loratadine, cetirizine or benadryl are recommended as the initial treatment for a mild to moderate indoor allergy. Corticosteroids are also available over the counter to buy in a pharmacy in the form of nasal sprays, these are good if your symptoms are frequent or persistent and you have nasal congestion. Examples of some that you can buy over the counter are flixonase and beconase Corticosteroids block many of the functions of the immune system and also help to reduce inflammation. They take longer to work than antihistamines, but their effects last longer. Side effects can

include dryness and irritation of the nose. There is also a new nasal spray on the market- prevalin nasal spray for adults and for children. This is antihistamine and steroid free and is a barrier treatment. It settles on the nasal lining as a gel to block allergen contact and is suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding woman as well. A combination of the above can be used If you need fast relief from your symptoms. E.g Benadryl plus – is a combination of an antihistamine and decongestant. A corticosteriod nasal spray and an antihistamine tablet can also be used in combination. Are these medicines safe and suitable for everyone, and can they be taken in the long term? Always check with the Pharmacist first and let them know if you are on any other medication, medical conditions, pregnant or breastfeeding and they can recommend the most suitable products according to your needs. Nasal decongestants are only normally used for short term relief.Using the spray for longer than five to seven days may make your symptoms worse. They can interact with some anti depressantsand high blood pressure may be an contraindicationalways check with the pharmacist. Not to be used when pregnant or breast feeding. Children can use only otrivine nasal drops for children, if over 6 years old. (..continued next page)

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