What treatment options are available?

The best way to remain symptom-free is to avoid whatever it is you're allergic to. However, this is not always possible. Houses can be made relatively allergen-free by cleaning and dusting surfaces and fabric surfaces regularly (to prevent large numbers of house dust mites), keeping the temperature a little lower than usual (can act against house dust mites and also moulds), ventilating rooms well, and keeping humidity low (prevents moulds from colonising the house).

Allergies can be managed relatively well with drugs called antihistamines. These act on histamine receptors in the body and thus stop histamine from working. Examples of antihistamines are loratadine, and cetirizine hydrochloride. These will only work if they are taken before you encounter the allergen (the substance you are allergic to), and many are “once a day” medications.

Corticosteroids can also be given in more severe cases. Corticosteroids are a group of chemicals that make the immune system function less. As a result, allergic symptoms can decrease, but there might be an increased risk of an infection. Examples of corticosteroids are fluocinonide, used against eczema, and beclometasone or prednisolone, used in the treatment of asthma.

Some allergies may have separate treatments. For example, ?2-adrenergic agonists, such as salbutamol, are used for treating asthma. These work by acting on the nervous system and cause the muscles surrounding the bronchi to relax, thus allowing the airways to open up.

Anaphylactic shock must be treated with adrenaline. This is usually given via an EpiPen, and people who are at risk of anaphylactic shock should carry an EpiPen or similar device with them. The effects of an EpiPen are short lived, so the person should go to A&E after using the EpiPen as well.

Allergies Guide Index:

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