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Australia is known for a lot of things, including its sky-high allergy rates! Did you know that Australia has one of the world’s highest rates of food allergies? Approximately 20% of Australians or nearly 4.0 million individuals have at least one allergy or related illness. The number of individuals impacted by allergy disorders in Australia is expected to rise to 7.7 million by 2050.
This article outlines the common allergies in Australia. We discuss the common signs and symptoms and measures you can take to manage your allergies. Most individuals are unaware of the triggers and tend to ignore them, let alone realize the influence it has on their lives. Allergies are one of Australia’s fastest-rising chronic illnesses, impacting around 1 in 5 people.
What are Allergies?
An allergy is a reaction of the body’s immune system to a substance that most people generally don’t react to. This substance is called an allergen. When someone with allergies comes into contact with an allergen, the body releases chemicals called antibodies and histamine. These chemicals are responsible for the symptoms associated with allergies, such as a runny nose or itchiness. Some common illnesses closely linked to allergies are asthma, eczema, and rhinitis.
Most tendencies for allergies are inherited, passing from one generation to the next. An allergy test can be conducted to confirm or identify allergens. Testing methodologies can vary depending on the allergy, but it’s important to remember that allergy tests don’t provide a diagnosis; they only determine the allergens and their severity.
Common Allergies in Australia
A broad spectrum of common allergies exists in Australia.
- Food allergy: Food allergy is the most common allergy in Australia. The newest research reveals that food allergies affect a staggering 3.7 million Australians. Individuals with a food allergy exhibit an abnormal immune reaction to certain foods containing specific allergens. The most common food allergens include peanuts, eggs, milk, soy, fish and shellfish. Among adults, peanuts are the most frequent cause of food allergy, followed by tree nuts, fish and shellfish, and eggs. Among children, the most common culprits are peanuts, milk, eggs, and soy.
- Dust allergy: Dust is the most commonly found allergen in the environment. Dust in the air can produce symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, runny nose, dry throat, and itchy eyes in some people. Mites, mould spores, sand, animal fur, and hair can also cause frequent allergies. Hay fever is caused by seasonal allergens such as pollen.
- Skin allergy: Skin allergies may be triggered by certain substances in cosmetics and other skincare products. Other signs of skin allergies include rash, itching, redness, and swelling. Australia’s most common skin allergies include reactions to iodine-based dyes, nickel, and fragrance.
- Eczema – Eczema is a long-term, itchy rash that typically affects visible skin areas with frequent contact with allergens. Eczema is a common skin rash that can flare up, self-resolve or disappear based on the exposure or avoidance of allergens. The most common allergens associated with eczema include dust mites, wheat, and dairy. There are different types of eczema, but the most common include atopic, contact, and seborrheic eczema. There may be genetic components involved as well.
- Asthma – Asthma is a chronic respiratory illness caused by the inflammation of mucosa lining the airway. Wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound) is common in an asthma attack. Approximately 11% of the population across Australia suffers from asthma. Asthma may be triggered by allergies, infections, strenuous exercise, air pollution, cold air, and acid reflux. Catastrophic asthma is an extreme form of asthma that can be life-threatening.
- Rhinitis – Rhinitis is the irritation of the nasal passages. Allergies and colds can result in a runny nose. Rhinitis can also cause sneezing, itchy eyes, and congestion. It can also make your breath smell terrible.
Signs & Symptoms of Allergies
Allergic responses can vary from person to person, depending on the severity and immune response. Here are some common signs and symptoms that you should know about:
- Shortness of breath
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Chest tightness
Typical food allergy signs and symptoms in children include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Blood in the stool in severe cases
In adults, food allergy symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Vomiting of blood
How to manage allergies?
Avoidance of allergens: The practical approach to treating an allergy is to avoid the allergen. However, this isn’t always possible. A combination of avoidance, medication and possible immunotherapy may be beneficial.
Monitor your allergy: Keep a record of your allergy symptoms and what may have triggered them. This can help you identify patterns and find ways to manage your allergy. Self-management tools such as the InflaMed mobile app can help track your allergy and share trends with your healthcare provider. This will help in shared and informed decision-making.
Manage your environment: To reduce exposure to allergens, you can make some environmental changes. This includes washing your bedsheets in hot water weekly to remove dust, changing your vacuum bag, and cleaning your house on a regular basis.
Take medications: Some medications can help reduce allergy symptoms and make it easier to manage your allergy. Treatment options include over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines or nasal steroids. However, a person should consult a physician or doctor before taking any medication.
Immunotherapy: Also known as allergy shot therapy, immunotherapy may be recommended if your symptoms cannot be controlled by other measures. This method is often effective in patients with allergic asthma or allergic rhinitis.
Why choose Inflamed for allergies?
InflaMed is a well-designed mobile app for allergy sufferers. It helps identify triggers, map trends and share personalised data with healthcare providers for informed and shared decision-making. Keep chronic inflammation under control and record real-time data in the palm of your hand with InflaMed.
Allergies are a growing public health concern. These common allergies pose a threat to the health of people of all ages, but especially children. Allergies should be treated effectively and efficiently. Patients are advised to take back control with self-management and contact their allergists for individualised management of their allergies. Additionally, all individuals should take precautions to safeguard themselves from allergens to the best of their ability.