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arrow Allergies

What is Allergy?

Allergy is an abnormal over-reaction of 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 nuisance. House dust, pollens, moulds, foods or even a pet (things that most people consider harmless) can make the allergic person too ill to function normally, forcing him or her to miss work, school and other important activities. These allergic reactions can provoke symptoms ranging from itchy, watery eyes of hay fever, 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 (anaphylaxis). The substances provoking the reaction may have been ingested, injected, inhaled or merely have come into contact with the skin or mucous membranes (e.g. eyes). Even though your allergy symptoms are not serious or life threatening, in some cases allergies can make your life miserable.

Although most allergies make their first appearance before the age of 20, they can develop in any person at any age, and are virtually never outgrown. While specific allergies are not inherited, your chances of having an allergy are greatly increased if members of your family are allergic. The course and presentation of Allergic disease is variable and is age dependant and one allergy may manifest itself as a different symptom at a later age e.g. Atopic eczema in children usually manifests as asthma or other respiratory allergies at an older age.

Current Trends of Increase:

The incidence of Allergy is increasing at an alarming rate throughout the world. In the World Allergy Forum held at the end of the last Millennium, the statistics revealed that up to fifty percent of the World's teenagers were already suffering from airway allergies ie. allergic rhinitis and asthma. If these statistics were extrapolated, an expected seventy to eighty percent of teenagers will be afflicted by airway allergy by the end of this decade with increasing morbidity and mortality. Even though asthma is the commonest cause of death in childhood and the second commonest emergency hospital admission, the warning sirens seem to be silent.

These allergic conditions affect all ages in all countries, with signs and symptoms changing according to the ages of the sufferer. In fact recent research shows that allergic disease actually starts while the subject is still in utero (before birth), therefore avoidance measures can be taken even before the potential sufferer is born.

Even though all the signs point to a potential health catastrophe occurring, very little was being done by health organizations worldwide to highlight this problem, and even less was being done by us here in Malaysia. Recently the World Health Organization (W.H.O) has acknowledged this potential plague, and has formed the World Allergy Organization (W.A.O). There has been an increase in awareness in Europe, USA, Australia and in some parts of Asia like Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, China and Japan.

It is our turn now to help combat the potential plague of this Millennium.

This is why MSAI was formed three years ago.


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