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Allergies are increasingly common in Australia, a 2007 report completed by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) found that 4.1 million Australians had at least one allergy and that the calculated cost of allergies in Australia was $7.8 billion.
ASCIA states that allergy affects about one in three people in Australia and that there has been a doubling, in recent years, of the number of people with conditions including hay fever, eczema and anaphylaxis (mainly due to food).
Allergy is an immune response to a substance of threat to the body (what is harmless for one person, may be life threatening for another) and should not be confused with intolerance or other symptoms such as headache or bloating.
Allergy occurs when a person’s immune system responds to the substance (allergen) which triggers the antibodies to attach themselves to mast cells (which sit below the lining of the skin, gut, lungs, nose and eyes and are designed to kill worms and parasites) and the mast cells respond by releasing certain substances into the tissues, one of which is called histamine. The release of the histamine results in the allergic reaction and symptoms.
There is evidence to support there is a genetic link in being at risk of having or developing an allergy/s.
The severity and occurrence of allergy varies between individuals and triggers.
The most common causes of allergy in Australia are
- Cats and other fury or hairy animals such as dogs, horses, rabbits and guinea pigs
- Dust mites
- Foods such as peanuts, cows’ milk, soy, seafood and eggs
- Insect stings
Symptoms can affect some or all parts of the body including
Symptoms may include
- Mucus production
- Difficulty breathing
- Stomach upset
Information adapted from www.allergy.org.au