Survey indicates the prevalence of allergies in Hong Kong is more common and young children (under the age of 3) are more pron to allergic symptoms. Although people have different allergy symptoms, but they may have the same allergic cause. After exposure to allergens, the immune system make a series of reactions, releasing inflammatory substances, and allergic symptoms, including nasal sensitivity, allergic dermatitis (eczema), allergic asthma. Patients with severe food allergies are more likely to have difficulty breathing (anaphylaxis) and life threatening symptoms. Newborn babies who have congenital skin structure problems and frequent immune system stimulation by substances can easily develop allergies. Babies have a potential risk before they eat allergic foods and condition could worsen once they begin intake.
Allergy Theory – Allergic March
Children with allergic symptoms (eg, eczema) are more likely to develop other allergic symptoms (eg, nasal sensitivity and asthma) when they grow up. Therefore, early allergy testing and avoidance of allergens can help prevent symptoms of allergic diseases.
0-4 month old
The immune system is not yet mature. Should a allergy test be performed, the cost-effectiveness is reduced.
4 months – 3 years old
Food allergies are more common than inhalant allergies.
3 years old or above
Both food and inhalant allergies are common
Inflammation on child’s face affects the appearance. They may be teased or bullied by other students. Dermatitis is itchy and condition may worse at night. This affects the quality of sleep which may lead to lack of concentration during the day. Poor sleeping quality may also lead to mood and behavior disturbances.
Common food allergens for children are eggs and dairy products. However, there are more than 100 food allergens in the world and it is difficult to identify the source of the allergic reaction. A comprehensive allergy test can accurately identify the allergen one is allergic to and effective avoidance can minimize the allergic reaction.
Environmental allergens include dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander, mold, etc., among which dust mites are the most common environmental allergens in Hong Kong. Dust mites are most often found in bed mattresses, pillows, blankets, carpets, dolls, or sofas. Dust mites allergens contain enzymes that dissolve the surface of the skin and are highly permeable allergens. Other common environmental allergens include rubber materials, skin care products, soaps, parfums, colors, preservatives,… Even chlorine in swimming pools can cause allergic dermatitis.
Some patients who experience allergic reactions decide to self-medicate and some may take Chinese and Western prescription medicines. Once symptoms are reduced or once medication is stopped, symptoms may reappear.
The consequences of allergies can be severe. Accurate allergy tests can help identify and avoid allergens. Under the guidance of Hong Kong Institute of Allergy and Hong Kong Allergy Association, IgE is the only recommended allergy blood test in Hong Kong.