Materia Medica Malaysiana

January 2, 2008

Prevention focuses on young children

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:29 am

NST: ALLERGY is an abnormal over-reaction by the body’s natural immune mechanism to substances that are normally not harmful to the human body.
Practically any substance can become an allergen, or allergy-causing irritant.
House dust, dust mites, pollens, moulds, foods or even a pet — things most people consider harmless — can make the allergic person too ill to function normally.
Allergic reactions can provoke symptoms ranging from itchy, watery eyes due to hay fever, the breathing difficulties of asthma, itchy inflamed skin with hives and eczema, or the dangerous fall in blood pressure and breathing problems following a severe reaction after food allergies and insect stings.
The substances may have been ingested, injected, inhaled or merely have come into contact with the skin or mucous membranes, for example through the eyes.
Physical suffering, mental torment, emotional struggles, financial strain and limitations in many aspects of life, ranging from food to sports, vacations to vocation, are the norms of an allergy patient.
Even though allergy symptoms are not serious or life- threatening, Dr Ranbir Kaulsay says, “in a nutshell, allergy rarely kills but often steals your zest for life”.
“About 60 per cent of all allergies appear during the first year of life. It is only logical for allergy prevention to be focused on infants and young children.”
There are five main things you can do in infancy to prevent allergies later in life.
– Breast-feeding a child for at least six months. Breast milk proteins are not considered foreign proteins to the child’s immune system, and it has a long-term preventive effect against non-food allergies.
– Delay the introduction of solid foods until the child is at least six months’ old when his digestive tract and immune system are better developed.
– Stay away from highly allergenic foods like shellfish, eggs and nuts during the first year — introduce only one new food at a time to allow any adverse reactions to be traced easily.
– Stop smoking during pregnancy as it may have adverse effects on infant lung development. Children should also not be exposed to cigarette smoke, especially in confined spaces.
– Recent studies on probiotics (good bacteria) and a diet rich in Omega 3 (fish oils) during pregnancy have proven to reduce the risk of allergy in a newborn.

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