Allergies part 1

Focus on allergies - part 1

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In part one of her three part series, Naturopath Jodi Van Dyk delves into the increasingly common world of allergies. Part one will discuss allergies, how they come about, potential causes and varying types.

Allergies are becoming increasingly common in Australia. According to the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), one in three people will suffer from an allergy at one point in their life.

When you think of allergies you might picture some one who has red, watery eyes, a runny nose and is constantly sneezing. This represents a classical picture of hay fever; however, allergies can take on many forms and cause different symptoms, including itchy skin, hives, welts, swelling and lung problems

How do allergies come about?

Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to something in the environment, causing damage to tissue as it tries to fight off the threat, which should otherwise be harmless to the body. The substances that cause allergies are known as allergens and are varied, including substances such as animal dander, grasses, pollen, dust mites, food, moulds, insects and some medicines.

What happens in the body during an allergic attack?

In acute allergies we must be ‘sensitised’ to an allergen before an allergic response occurs. When we initially come into contact with an allergen no reaction occurs, only sensitisation. However when exposed to the allergen again the body has already been sensitised, and a reaction occurs; the body releases a host of inflammatory chemicals including histamine. The inflammatory chemicals cause typical symptoms seen in allergy which include runny nose (allergic rhinitis), runny eyes, hives and red, itchy skin.

Most allergies are mild to moderate, causing irritation and perhaps a loss of function, however some particular allergies can be life threatening, causing what is known as anaphylactic shock.

Types of allergies

Seasonal allergies – usually occur at varying times of the year generally either autumn/winter or spring/summer. These are as a result of airborne allergens such as pollens or grasses. These can cause runny nose, itchy throat, and red runny eyes.

Perennial allergies – these are allergies that occur all year round. These are generally in response to dust mites, animal dander, mould and occasionally food additives.

* Both seasonal and perennial allergies can be commonly referred to as ‘hay fever’

Animal allergies – an allergy to mainly pet hair. Allergens can arise from the fur, dander, saliva, faeces and urine. Allergic reaction usually occurs via inhalation of the allergen.

Allergic contact dermatitis – this allergy affects the skin and causes a weeping red rash, which usually shows up within 1-2 days of exposure to an allergen.

Hives (urticaria) – causes weal like swellings in the skin which can be as a result of contact with an allergen or ingestion of a food allergen.

Eczema/asthma – allergies can be found in those suffering from atopic conditions such as asthma or eczema. Allergies can trigger a flare up or an attack or can be implicated in causing inflammation.


Atopic individuals have an inherited tendency to allergies.[2] Atopic individuals do not need the initial ‘sensitisation’ exposure to an allergen before responding to it.[2] These people will respond immediately to the allergen even in small amounts. Many cases of eczema and asthma can be linked to atopic individuals.

References available on request

Hello Lenore,
Thank you for your post and I am sorry to hear about your allergy to minerals. If you think your symptoms started after taking a new supplement, it may be your body did not agree with some of the ingredients or the dosage may have been too strong for you. To be honest, avoiding minerals on a daily basis would be quite challenging, as they are in almost everything we eat and drink. I hope by now your reaction has subsided. If you are still in doubt as to what to avoid, I think it would be advisable to see your GP or an integrative doctor as they may recommend specific blood tests to identify immunoglobulins reactions towards different food groups. I hope this information will be helpful Lenore. If you need any further help, please call our Naturopathic Advisory Service at 1800 803 760. Kind regards, Rosaria (Blackmores naturopath)
My naturepath has diagnosed mineral allergy after I have been suffering breathing problems,weakness, tiredness, blurry eyes, shaking etc. What do I need to avoid apart mineral water and multi vitamins which I have started doing andn have some improvement
Anonymous 10 Feb 2014
Hi Vicki,
Thank you for your post. I recommend speaking to your local health food store to ask for product recommendations. They may have a naturopath working there who is able to advise you and your husband on products with minimal allergens which would be best for him to try. I suggest taking any products you may still have which he has reacted to so that the staff may take a look and try to rule out substances which may have caused his reaction. All the best, Leanne (a blackmores naturopath)
Anonymous 10 Jan 2014
Hi i suffer from cronic dermatitis and would like more info info on this and what treatment is available Thanks Jan
Anonymous 18 Dec 2013
Dear Gay, I am sorry to hear of your symptoms. I have included some information on hives in my response, however it would be best to get a diagnosis from your healthcare professional to rule out other causes of your rash... Hives (urticarial) is a skin reaction that can appear as an itchy, red rash anywhere on your body. It is characterised by wheals (hives) which are red, raised, swollen patches of skin. It can be short-lived (24 to 48 hours) but can also last longer. Urticaria can be caused by an allergic or non-allergic reaction. Some people may have an allergic reaction to drugs, food (e.g. shellfish or nuts), preservatives or insect bites. Other people may have a non-allergic reaction to food, food additives or medicines. However, the cause of urticaria is not always identified. It would be best to see your doctor if your symptoms persists. For more information and for natural help to deal with hives, you can look at this article: All the best Gay. Regards, Jennifer (Blackmores naturopath)
I have come in contact with something in my garden and developed red swollen hive type rash just on one area of my body and slight ear ache on that side and sore throat also on that side.Happened 2 days ago initially they were itchy now very sore, Have taken Claratyne and soothing cream today but still very sore. How long does allergy normally take to clear up ?
Anonymous 25 Nov 2013
Hi Peter,
I would advise investigating the cause of the dermatitis you’ve described further. Itchy skin may be exacerbated by a number of different things, including various clothing fabrics, temperature changes, and liver sensitivity to name a few. You could try a vitamin E cream or a nourishing oil such as calendula oil applied to the skin, as well as fish oil supplements. Fish oil is a natural anti- inflammatory and also provides essential fatty acids which are beneficial to skin health. Peter, to discuss your condition further please feel free to call our Advisory line on 1800 803 760 to speak to a naturopath. All the best, Leanne (a Blackmores naturopath)