Dealing with allergies and sinusities
It's that time of the year - allergy season. Every other person is sniffling and sneezing, with a runny nose and itchy eyes. And with the current dry spell affecting the island, the dust seems uncontrollable.
What to do? According to one of Jamaica's well-known allergists ,Dr A.W. Lawrence, the manifestation of allergies is determined by which part of the body comes in contact with the allergen.
"The skin may show rashes and itch in some people following contact with jewellery, cosmetics and other agents. The sinus lining (epithelium) may become inflamed and itch after exposure to inhaled pollens, dust, mould (mildew) spores, and so on. When the eyes become involved with excessive itching and redness, this is something called 'hay fever'. When the air passages (bronchi) in the lungs become involved (the lining or epithelium is similar to that found in the sinuses) then the allergic process (one of the main but not the only cause) results in asthma."
He noted that this time of year is common for allergic reactions as the environment tends to 'bloom' after the rainy period - October to December. In addition, cold air, though not verified with adequate research, also seems to affect persons with respiratory illnesses. In order to keep the flare-ups under control, Dr Lawrence notes that it's not as easy as it may sound.
He recommends that we begin at home by removing possible irritants. "These include mosquito destroyers [coils and mats], cigarette smoke, and eliminate the use of strong perfumes, wall-to-wall carpeting, heavy drapes, and just about anything that collects mould and dust."
At the office, persons are urged to asked employers to properly maintain air-conditioning units by cleaning filters and vents regularly - especially centrally housed ones - and remove mouldy carpets, and old paper that might be lying around the office.
Lawrence also outlined the effects of dairy products on one's sinuses. "Foods are not a real threat as they rarely cause flare-ups. The trouble is what we breathe in, not what is being consumed," said Lawrence.
Sinusitis is very common and is usually treated with over-the-counter drugs such as antihistamines, but Dr Lawrence warns that persons should seek medical attention if a separate symptom such as a fever develops or if one is simply in doubt as to what is happening with the body. "The allergic tendency in an individual is permanent. While allergic symptoms may be prevented from affecting the person for months or years, the potential remains, so there is no permanent cure for allergies. However, preventing and reducing the severity of allergic illnesses provides marked relief, a more normal lifestyle and significant savings in medications costs."
Dr A.W. Lawrence, allergist
18 Tangerine Pl, Kingston 10,