An allergy is your bodys immune system reacting to a substance as though it was harmful. In the UK it is thought that one in four people will be affected by allergies sometime in their lifetime. The most common allergies are: Grass and tree pollen- hay fever Dust mites Animal dander Food especially nuts, fruit, shellfish, eggs and cows milk. Insect bites and stings Medication including ibuprofen, aspirin, and certain antibiotics Latex used to make some gloves and condoms Mould Household chemicals What are the symptoms? An allergic reaction can cause: Sneezing A runny, itchy nose Red, itchy, watery eyes Wheezing and coughing A red, itchy rash Worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms Most allergic symptoms are mild but occasionally a severe reaction called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock which needs urgent medical treatment. Treatment The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid the allergen. For example, the biggest cause of allergies is dust mites which you can limit by: Choosing wood or vinyl floors Fitting roller blinds Choosing leather, plastic or vinyl furniture Cleaning cushions, soft toys, curtains and upholstered furniture regularly Using allergy-proof covers on bedding Using a vacuum cleaner fitted with an HEPA (high efficiency particulate) air filter Regularly wiping surfaces with a damp clean cloth If one of your family members is allergic to mould keep your house well ventilated, remove any household plants, dont dry clothes indoors, deal with any damp or condensation, and avoid damp buildings, damp woods, cut grass and compost heaps. For food allergies carefully check the ingredients on food labels, order simple dishes in restaurants as they are less likely to contain allergens, ask the staff for advice. For hay fever: Stay indoors if the pollen count is high Avoid drying bedding and clothes outside when the pollen count is high Wear wraparound sunglasses Keep doors and windows shut when possible Shower and change your clothes after being outside Avoid grassy areas, particularly early in the morning and evening Ask someone else to cut your lawn. Medications If your allergy is mild and you would just like to ease the symptoms, there are various medicines you can purchase from Loves Farm pharmacy. The most common of these is antihistamines. They can be used either when you notice the symptoms or to prevent allergic reactions e.g. you can take them in the morning when you know the pollen count will be high. If you want to find out more about medication for allergies, call into Loves Farm Pharmacy.