ALLERGIES

Acute problems with the respiratory tract are common in Shanghai, however what many people don´t realize is that the majority of these problems are caused by allergic reactions to pollution. In other words -  the pollution acts as a trigger, rather than causing the problem directly.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • frequent sneezing and coughing, including most mornings
  • blocked nose in the morning, snoring at night
  • common cold at least 5 times a year
  • breathing problems, sometimes wheezing
  • episode of pneumonia
  • sinus infections
  • sensitivity to dusty or polluted environments
  • skin sensitivity, eczema
  • chronic headache
  • constant fatigue

Does your child have any of these?

  • constantly running nose
  • ear problems such as recurrent otitis media or hearing problems
  • chronic respiratory infections with slow recovery time
  • worsening of pre-existing respiratory disease or asthma including requiring a nebulizer
  • recent pneumonia
  • skin problems such as rashes or eczema

If your answer to any of the above questions is yes, then you or your child may suffer from an allergy.

With a simple test we can find out what causes your allergy, identify the source and help you avoid contact with the triggering substances in future. Feel free to contact us and make an appointment!

What is an allergic reaction?

An allergy or hypersensitivity is an exaggerated  reaction by the body's immune system to a foreign substance known as an "allergen". While most allergens are in themselves quite harmless, in someone who is sensitized to the allergen it is perceived as a threat or invader by the immune system, which launches a response to deal with it, provoking an allergic reaction. Depending on the individual, the type of allergen and the system involved, this may manifest as a wide variety of symptoms, as described below.

Why are you more likely to develop allergies in China?

There is now a large body of evidence to show a clear connection between exposure to pollution and the development of allergies, especially in early childhood. The mechanism of action is thought to be due to an increase in the amount of allergens absorbed by the lung mucous membranes in the presence of atmospheric dust. This is because inhaled dust in the lung tissues acts as a kind of 'glue' which increases the binding of the allergens to the lung tissue. These allergens are eventually reabsorbed into the body, paving the way for future allergic reactions

What are the usual symptoms of allergic reactions?


Allergic symptoms will depend in large part on which system or organ is most affected:

  • Upper respiratory tract -> rhinitis with clear nasal drip, sneezing often in paroxysms, itching of the nose, itchy palate
  • Lower respiratory tract ->coughing, asthma or wheezing, difficulties in breathing
  • Eyes -> watery, itchy eyes, swollen or puffy eyes, red eyes, conjunctivitis
  • Skin -> eczema or atopic dermatitis, rashes, dry scaly skin, rough patches

Which are the most common allergens in China?

  • Dust mites - these are microscopic insects of the arachnoid (spider) family very commonly found in close company with humans. With a life span of only 6 weeks they reproduce with incredible speed. and may exist by the million in all kinds of bedding and soft furnishings, or wherever they find hospitable conditions.
  • Molds - this is a large and diverse fungal species which is ubiquitous in nature. Mold grows in humid environments and also on food. Mold in the home can usually be found in damp, dark or steamy areas such as bathrooms or kitchens, storage areas and other areas with poor ventilation. Mold also grows outdoors in humid environments. Certain kinds of mold produce toxic substances called mycotoxins which have been linked to several serious health problems
  • Animal fur/hair and dander - allergic reactions to animals in the home are not uncommon, most usually to cats but also to dogs. The allergy may be to the animal's hair or fur, dander (shed skin) or even saliva and may range from mild sneezing to more severe allergies.. Allergy may also develop to other household pets such as hamsters, birds or rabbits. Additionally other types of animals which share the human environment may also cause allergic problems, most notably cockroaches.
  • Pollen - due to its intense urbanization, seasonal allergies to substances such as pollen are less common in China compared to other countries. . In rural areas however there is still some risk from species such as grasses, tree pollen and some herbs as ambrosia and mugwort.  

STRATEGIES TO MINIMIZE SYMPTOMS

Following the results of your allergy tests, our service will then provide tailored solutions designed to minimize your exposure to triggering agents and thereby  make your life more comfortable! We help you choose the right combination of solutions and products: including

  • removal / minimization of the allergen source - most important!!
  • good frequent cleaning habits - vacuuming, mopping, dusting and special cleaning of all textiles
  • special bedding
  • HEPA vacuum cleaners
  • nose drops / creams
  • special detergents
  • air quality sensors
  • dehumidifiers / humidifiers - to maintain indoor humidity at or  around 50%
  • air purification systems
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