Allergies: Causes, Symptoms, Testing & Treatment

An allergy is an abnormal immune response reaction that occurs when the body is exposed to certain foreign substances. Its an exaggerated reaction because the immune system is supposed to see these substances as harmless. Below is an overview of different types of allergies, their causes, tests, and treatment options.

Types of Allergy

Types of Allergy

There are several types of allergies caused by different allergens. The most common ones include:

1. Food Allergy

This over-reaction by the body’s natural defenses occurs after exposure to certain food varieties. Although this allergic reaction is usually mild, it can progress and become severe. The overreaction tends to affect various processes in the body, especially the digestive process.


Food allergy conditions can be genetically inherited. It’s usual to find that children suffering from it most likely inherited it from parents and or their siblings suffer from the same condition. Common foods that cause allergic reactions include protein-rich varieties like:

  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Shellfish
  • Peanuts, etc.


  • Shortness of breath
  • Itchy skin or hives
  • Difficulty in swallowing food
  • A tingling sensation in the mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

Food Allergy Testing and Treatment

Food allergy test may involve blood or skin tests. If the reaction is minor, the doctor will recommend OTC medications or prescription antihistamines. In case of a severe reaction, then an emergency epinephrine injection may be administered for food allergy treatment.


2. Drug Allergies

They occur after taking certain medications. Note that any type of drug, prescription, OTC, or herbal medication can induce an allergic reaction. But it commonly occurs when patients take certain specific medications.


Common drugs that can cause allergies include:

  • Sulfa drugs
  • Aspirin
  • Antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, and ampicillin among others.
  • NSAIDs such as naproxen and ibuprofen
  • Drugs for chemotherapy

Common symptoms include:

  • A runny nose
  • Skin rash and hives
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling
  • Itching

Drug Allergy Test and Treatment

Doctors normally do skin tests. Alternatively, blood tests may be recommended depending on the severity of the condition. The first treatment plan is normally the withdrawal of the allergy-causing drug. Thereafter, the doctor may prescribe antihistamines, an epinephrine injection, or administration of corticosteroids.


3. Pollen Allergy

Pollen Allergy

It’s also known as hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis. This condition sometimes triggers the development of asthma symptoms. It is caused by pollens-tiny grains that plants release for the fertilization process.


  • Grasses like Bermuda, sweet vernal, and rye
  • Weeds like ragweed, sagebrush, and English plantain
  • Trees such as cottonwood, oak, beech, and sycamore.


  • Watery or itchy eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Itchy throat

Pollen Allergy Test and Treatment

An allergist will do skin prick tests to determine the cause. Treatment options include OTC drugs such as:

  • Antihistamines – Benadryl and zyrtec
  • Decongestants – Afrin nasal spray and Sudafed
  • A combination of decongestant and antihistamine- Claritin-D and Actifed

Note: it’s also recommended that you avoid the triggers. This involves staying indoors during windy days or when the pollen count is extremely high. Besides that, you can always wear a dust mask when going outdoors.

4. Pet Allergy

It’s an allergic reaction that occurs due to exposure to proteins found in the saliva, urine, or skin flake cells of animals. It may simply cause an allergic reaction or trigger the symptoms of asthma in some individuals.


Pet allergies are caused by animals such as:

  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Rabbits
  • Rodents


Skin symptoms such as itchy skin, eczema, and hives

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • A runny nose and sneezing
  • Itchy throat or nose
  • Nasal congestion

Pet Allergy Test & Treatment

The allergist may do skin or blood tests to determine the exact cause of the condition. Treatment options involve staying away from the animal that causes allergy. Besides that, the allergist may prescribe medications such as:

  • Decongestants
  • Corticosteroids
  • Antihistamines and
  • Leukotriene modifiers


5. Latex Allergy

It’s an overreaction to certain proteins found in natural rubber latex. The body mistakenly identifies latex as a foreign substance once your skin comes into contact with it, leading to an extreme reaction.


  • Direct contact with latex products such as gloves, balloons, and condoms.
  • Inhaling the particles released by latex products


  • Skin redness, itching, and hives
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing and difficulty in breathing

Latex Allergy Tests and Treatment

The allergist will most likely carry out a skin allergy test to determine the main cause. There is no cure for latex allergy and allergists normally administer drugs that simply reduce the symptoms. First, you need to avoid coming into contact with latex.

Secondly, the doctor may prescribe injectable epinephrine, corticosteroids, or an antihistamine.

6. Eye Allergy

It’s also known as allergic conjunctivitis. The common condition occurs when an allergen irritates the eyes. When this overreaction occurs, the eyes end up releasing histamine, a substance that’s designed by the body to help fight the allergen.


Causes of Eye Allergy

It’s normally caused by airborne allergens like:

  • Pet pander
  • Pollen
  • Mold
  • Smoke and dust


Common symptoms of eye allergy include:

  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Teary or runny eyes
  • A burning sensation or itchiness
  • Red and irritated eyes
  • Swollen eyelids

Eye Allergy Test and Treatment

Allergists normally conduct a comprehensive eye examination using a microscope. Besides that, a blood allergy test may be carried out to analyze the type of white blood cells found in your eyes and surrounding areas.

Treatment involves avoiding triggers. Stay indoors to avoid high pollen counts or wear sunglasses when you are going out. Keep your windows closed and always use an air conditioner in your home or when using your car.

The allergist can prescribe OTC drops including tear substitutes to artificially wash away the allergens from the eyes. Besides, decongestant eye drops and oral antihistamines are good. Other prescription medications include non-sedating oral antihistamines, NSAID eyedrops, and immunotherapy.

Allergy FAQs

Do you have a few questions about allergies that need answers? Well, here are some of the commonly asked questions and appropriate answers.

Q. What Are Drugs Used To Treat Allergic Reactions Called?

A. They are called antihistamines. This class of drugs helps to significantly reduce the symptoms of allergy.

Q. How to Allergists Diagnose Allergies?

A. Allergists normally do skin tests or blood allergy test in Singapore to determine the cause of the immune overreaction.

Q. What’s the Difference between Allergies and Common Cold?

A. These two conditions often display the same symptoms and that’s why it can be confusing. But you can tell the difference. Allergic reactions have patterns and aren’t contagious while a cold has no pattern and it’s contagious.

Q. Do Allergies Have Cure?

A. There is no cure for allergies. You can only manage and treat the symptoms to reduce the severity of the reaction.

The Bottom Line

Allergies are found in many forms depending on the triggers and where they affect the body. While others are seasonal, there are allergies that occur throughout the year. Some are even permanent and, therefore, need lifelong management.

The best way to deal with allergies is by learning the appropriate management techniques. Most allergies have no cure hence allergists simply prescribe medications to reduce the severity of the symptoms. So if you can, protect yourself from the triggers. To learn the best way to protect yourself from allergies, visit Ear and Allergy Clinic today.…

Ear, Nose & Throat Disorders

How Does An Ear Nose Throat Doctor Help You

It takes many years to train as an ENT Doctor, and during that time they study the anatomy and diseases of the ear, nose and throat. All these structures are interlinked and any infection or disease affecting the nose and throat will probably affect the ear as well. Some ENT Doctors specialize in Paediatric patients (children), others purely adults. Whatever their chosen field ENT Surgery is extremely specialized work and constant ‘up-skilling’ is required to keep up with the latest techniques.



Removal of the tonsils for reasons of recurrent infection. Often performed in children and requires 24 hours in Hospital in order to monitor post operative bleeding. Sometimes the operation is performed on adults for the same reason, as continuing infections are bad for the health and although it is not done quite as commonly as it once was, it is a fairly simple and quick surgery under General Anaesthetic.


If you snore you may have enlarged adenoids. Adenoids are a collection of lymphatic tissue in the nasopharynx. In children enlargement of the adenoids can cause obstruction of breathing through the nose and obstruct your eustachian tubes, this causes glue ear. In cases where the adenoids are problematic they are surgically removed.


Can occur in both children and adults, if the airway is blocking ( in children, usually caused by tonsils or adenoids). In adults it is a bit more serious and often linked to the fact that you are overweight, drinking alcohol and smoking. Sometimes the snorer requires surgery to tighten the back of the throat and stop the vibration causing snoring. If left unattended it can cause sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea is a serious condition and you may be sent to a sleep disorder clinic for a ‘sleep study’. The simplest thing to do is to cut back on alcohol consumption and loose some weight, otherwise you may require surgery. The surgery is painful, but effective in relieving symptoms.



Rhinoplasty surgery

Rhinoplasty or nose job surgery performed to alter the shape of the nose, either to allow better air flow, or for cosmetic reasons. Sometimes the septum is deviated, meaning the partition in the centre of the nose is more to one side and this needs to be corrected in order to help the patient to breath freely.


Sinus Surgery

In severe cases of chronic sinus the patient may require a sinus surgery. Often in the form of sinus washouts to remove the debris from the sinus cavities and generally clean out the area. To learn more about sinus treatment, read this article “Sinus surgeon guide on sinusitis treatment & sinus surgery


Nasal Polyps

Nasal Polyps removal surgery

These are often present in patients with allergic rhinitis, they may develop in response to certain treatments, used to control the rhinitis. If they get too big they will impede the flow of air and may need to be surgically removed by your ENT surgeon under anaesthetic.


Glue Ear

insertion of grommet

Fluid accumulates in the middle ear. Most frequently this is seen in children, as described earlier. If left it causes deafness, and given that children are in such a fast stage of development when this usually occurs, it can affect their speech development. If the problem keeps reoccurring the child may need to have the fluid drained by an ENT surgeon under anaesthetic. The surgery is commonly known as inserting grommets.




A disorder causing conductive deafness in adult life, caused by an overgrowth of the bones of the inner ear.

Deafness is progressive and may become severe. Treatment by surgery is usually highly effective and is known as Fenestration, Stapedectomy.

If surgery is not carried out the patient will require hearing aids.



Is the removal of the stapes bone in the ear, and replacing it with a ‘prosthetic’ bone in the treatment of advancing deafness.

This is a safe form of surgery that will restore the patient’s hearing and is carried out by an ENT surgeon under general anaesthetic.


Tongue Tie

A disorder of babies, where they are born with the tongue anchored to the floor of the mouth. This problem is usually picked up by the Parentcraft nurse as it manifests in difficulty in baby ‘latching’ onto the breast. It appears a simple problem, but needs to be looked at by the surgeon, as in recent years I have seen some really bad surgical attempts where an amateur tried to correct the problem leading to greater problems. Once you see the surgeon it is easily corrected and will need to be done quickly in order for the baby to feed.


Cleft Palate

Occurs in fetal development causing a fissure in the midline of the palate when the two sides don’t fuse. These congenital defects have to be corrected by a skilled surgeon. Fortunately, they are not common and sometimes require more than one operation to correct them. Sometimes they are accompanied by a problem with the lip, known as a harelip.



Another congenital deformity in the cleft of the upper lip, on one or both sides of the midline. The tissues of the upper lip fail to fuse at the midline.

This requires a surgical procedure and is quite delicate work, especially if it is on a child under 5 years, usually the case, but these days it is easily corrected.



We are very fortunate to have such skilled ENT surgeons and to have a ‘first world’ medical system. When you look at the range of surgeries performed by the ENT surgeon, you will probably find that you require at least one of these during your lifetime. It is always money well spent to choose a suitably qualified practitioner to carry out your procedure and put you back on the road to full health. Never be afraid to ask questions and go to your surgery as well-informed as possible. If you are in doubt about any aspect, get a second opinion.…

Healthy Heart

The heart is the most important organ in the body. A failing heart may lead to a combination of stroke and heart diseases, which ultimately leads to untimely deaths. In fact, heart disease and stroke are the top cause of death amongst men and women in Singapore. Still, most people are unaware of the lurking dangers of heart disease.

Without a healthy heart, every other organ in your body would fail. Hence, it is crucial that you see an expert cardiologist to check your heart for any issues and provide early treatment before it is too late.

Singaporeans face a higher risk of heart disease compared to other Asians. According to various studies, Singaporeans have a higher prevalence of hypertension, diabetes and coronary artery disease, which are all serious conditions that put them at a higher risk of heart failure.Here are three types of people who have a higher risk of heart disease in Singapore and may benefit from seeing a cardiologist early on to improve their health.

1. Those with a family history of heart disease:
You are at a higher risk for heart disease if your parents or sibling suffers from the condition, even if you lead a healthy lifestyle. That is why it is crucial that you are tested regularly for various heart diseases. This way, any growing condition can be mitigated early before it gets out of hand.

2. Those who suffer from a significant cholesterol disorder:
These are people who have extremely high cholesterol levels that cannot be lowered by a diet or lifestyle change alone.

3. Those who carry multiple risk factors for heart disease:
People who have multiple risk factors for heart disease make it even harder to control or prevent the disease. Some of these risk factors include:

• Smoking
• Diabetes
• Uncontrolled hypertension
• Lack of exercise
• High blood sugar
• Obesity

Even so, a qualified heart specialist can help formulate a plan to improve your heart health. One way he achieves this is by monitoring your heart health numbers, helping you understand what they mean and giving you the right tools and information to maintain a healthy heart.

Schedule consultation with a trusted cardiologist by giving them a call at their local clinic. Read about the reviews on each cardiologist and check their social media sites to find out what their patients are saying about them.