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Advent of Allergy Season – what you need to know
October 3, 2015, 5:10 pm
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Dr. Maheswaran, an MBBS, MS surgeon at the Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Centre in Fahaheel, has over six years of clinical experience in ENT & HN surgery in India and Kuwait. With nearly a dozen articles published in various prestigious international journals, Dr. Maheswaran is a respected authority in his chosen field of specialization and well-versed in all aspects of ENT & HN surgery.

In an exclusive interview with The Times Kuwait, Dr. Maheswaran speaks about the allergy-season in Kuwait, its impact on those allergic to specific pollens. Referring specifically to allergic rhinitis, the doctor notes its prevalence in Kuwait and the treatment, prevention and control option that are available.

Allergic rhinitis (AR), also known as Hay Fever or pollinosis, is the most common allergic problem in Kuwait. It is defined as inflammation and irritation of the nasal passages due to seasonal or year-round allergens, particles that cause allergies. These allergens can be found both outdoors and indoors. Outdoor allergens, like trees, grass and weed pollens usually cause seasonal allergies. Indoor allergens such as animal dander, indoor mold or the dropping of cockroaches or house dust mites are usually associated with year round allergies.

Signs and symptoms of AR resemble common cold, however unlike the common cold, AR lasts for more than 8-10 days and may include:
-Stuffy/ a runny nose
-Sneezing
-Itchy nose
-Itchy eyes/watery eyes
-Coughing caused by clear mucus running down the back of the throat.

Types of AR

a) Seasonal AR- Occurs at the same time each year . 

b) Perennial AR- Year round allergy, can occur any time during the year, with symptoms being more severe in winter.

c) Occupational AR- Due to allergic reaction to a substance present in workplace.

In Kuwait, seasonal AR occurs during two periods: from September to October and from April to May, with September-October being the main season. The AR during late summer in Kuwait is mainly associated with pollination of Chenopodium (Goosefoot) an annual herbaceous flowering plant.

The diagnosis of AR is based on a) detailed personal and family allergic history b) intranasal examination- anterior rhinoscopy c) allergy skin tests d) in vitro specific Ig E test.

Treatment options are varied, depending on the nature and severity of the condition. The most important of these being avoiding the allergen. There are multiple medication options that can be used including pills or nasal sprays. In certain circumstances, allergy shots (Immunotherapy) may be advised.

Prevention and control

House dust mites: These are present even in the homes that appear clean. They are present in pillows, mattresses, upholstery, curtains and carpets. Hence, these materials should be washed regularly at 60 degrees C. it is preferable to use vacuum cleaner with HEPA filters.

Pollen: Remain indoors with windows closed at peak pollen times, use air conditioning where possible, install car pollen filter.

Cockroaches: Eradicate cockroaches with appropriate gel type, non-volatile insecticides. Avoid dampness, cracks in floors and ceiling and keep food covered.

Pet dander: It is not the pet fur that causes allergy in winters; instead the trigger is the protein present in animal saliva and urine. Pet dander is light and can easily stick to the clothes, shoes and hair. Ensure to keep the clothes, shoes and hair clean.

Molds: The fungus dwells in damp and humid places like bathrooms and basements. Ensure dry indoor conditions.

Other general measures include
Wearing dust mask while cleaning the room
Regularly ventilating the house
Removal of unwanted material from the house that can gather dust

With the above measures it may be possible to keep the symptoms of AR under control and lead an allergy free healthy life.

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