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HindustanTimes Sun,26 Oct 2014

As temperature rises, allergies stage a comeback

Rhythma Kaul, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 30, 2014
First Published: 23:54 IST(30/3/2014) | Last Updated: 00:00 IST(31/3/2014)

Even though the sultry summer is yet to set in properly, a number of people — especially children — have begun to feel the heat. The number of cases of seasonal infections has seen a substantial jump.

Take for instance, seven-year-old Angel Makol, a resident of Surajkund, Haryana. Makol has been experiencing watery, itchy, red and sticky eyes. She was taken to an eye specialist, but the medicines prescribed to her only provide temporary relief.

“The symptoms come back the moment we stop her medication. It is a seasonal thing and she has a tendency of developing eye allergy the moment summer starts. We don’t  exactly know what causes the problem, but doctors claim that it is due to the change in weather,” said Deepak Makol, Angel’s father.

Angel suffers from a condition called allergic conjunctivitis, which is a seasonal disease.

According to eye specialists, this weather is ideal for such allergies  and a number of cases of allergic conjunctivitis are usually reported during this time.

“It is called spring catarrh, which is the recurrent inflammation of the conjunctiva. However, it is a misnomer as cases start coming with the onset of summer,” said Dr Mahipal S Sachdev, chairman and medical director at the Centre for Sight chain of eye hospitals. Sachdev sees two to three such cases daily.

Children are more vulnerable to severe symptoms and may require proper treatment; in adults the condition is mostly self-limiting. “In adults, the eye tends to get better on its own; we recommend wearing dark glasses and cold compresses for relief. In acute cases one may require steroid-based eyes drops but they needs to be taken under supervision. Children usually require certain anti-allergic medicines,” said Dr Sachdev.

Fortunately, allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious.  The infectious viral conjunctivitis peaks during the monsoon season when heat and humidity provide a conducive atmosphere for viruses. As a result, not just eye infections, there’s an increase in the number of cases of chicken pox too, especially in children.

“In the last month I have seen 100 cases, which is unusual for this season; normally I would only see 15-20. Also, adolescents are more affected as with the advent of vaccines, younger children develop immunity against it,” said Dr Rahul Nagpal, director, department of paediatrics, Fortis, Vasant Kunj.

Most of the affected patients are put on symptomatic treatment with only a handful needing stronger medication.  

The number of cases of respiratory tract illnesses has also shot up since the weather started changing. Many people visit hospitals and clinics with complaints of asthma, bronchitis, acute rhino sinusitis etc.

Chest specialists claim this time there is an increase in the severity of symptoms as compared to last year.

Take our test: Are you coming down with a seasonal infection?

FAQ allergies
* Is it common to have symptoms such as runny nose, watery eyes, chest discomfort in this season?
* It is common for seasonal allergies to act up in spring because of the presence of pollen in the air. The above mentioned symptoms are the most common symptoms that occur during season change

Who should be more careful?
Those who are known to have pollen-allergy; pregnant women; Immuno-compromised persons such as those who are on cancer treatment, post transplant medicines, HIV/AIDS etc; pople above 65 years and children, diabetics, hypertensive people and those having asthma.

What is the best way to prevent seasonal flu and chickenpox?
The best way is to get a vaccine shot in advance to develop immunity against the conditions. The vaccines are safe and provide close to 100% protection.


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