The prevalence of allergic diseases is rising dramatically worldwide, both in developed and developing countries.
In Thailand, the adoption of more Westernised lifestyles with exposure to an increased and different range of foodand environmental experiences may explain the local increase.
An allergic reaction is when the body’s defense system reacts against substances which do not commonly cause troubles, and which are normally tolerated by most of the people. Fortunately Hua Hin has access to an expert on the subject. Dr Onsuree Boonyaviwat is a pediatric allergist and immunologist at the Bangkok Hospital Hua Hin. A combination of specialising in both children’s medicine and managing allergy issues is ideal as the increase is especially problematic for children, who are bearing the burden of the rising trend. She sees 10 -15 patients every day.
We met with Dr Boonyaviwat who explained some of the mysteries of the human allergic responses to genetic and environmental factors, including the issues of food allergies. Food is especially important with cow’s milk and eggs featuring high on the lists of food allergens. Peanuts, a common ingredient in Thai food, are also a major No, No for some! Symptoms such as skin reactions and sneezing (often with nose obstruction), coughing, Itching eyes, breathing difficulties, stomach pain or cramps are all potential indicators of an allergic response.
This is especially true if there is a family history. When children have symptoms that may not be life threatening, they can become much more than a nuisance. Although allergies cannot be cured, both diagnosis and management have much to offer, making a significant difference to the quality of life. Children with symptoms that lead to loss of sleep quality may experience learning and developmental problems as well as a reduction in their respiratory function. The diagnostic tools include a ‘skin prick’ test to discover the allergen as well as blood and lung function testing. Dr Boonyaviwat knows first-hand how these tests can be effective as she is also subject to some allergy issues and needed to self-diagnose.
Then there are a multitude of symptom reduction options including de-sensitisation techniques, not curing but addressing the quality of life issues. Thanks to Dr Boonyaviwat for her time and listening to silly questions about being allergic to cucumbers; she doesn’t like them either. However it’s a bit like talking about toothache which inevitably leads to your tongue exploring your teeth. Talking about allergies means you can’t help but sniffling a little just at the thought. Finally it’s worth considering our graph which shows the pattern for the development of allergic diseases. As Dr Boonyaviwat explained, people with allergic predisposition often follow the same clinical course, with changes according to age.
This is known as the ‘ALLERGY MARCH’, recognised changes in symptoms to allergens according to age. . Finding the cause as early as possible will help stop an allergy progression, a task Hua Hin’s allergy specialist understands with outcomes that mean the wheezing and sneezing days (and nights) may be over.