A Step Closer to Curing Allergy?
It is estimated that 40% of the world’s population suffers from some kind of allergy. However, still yet to find a cure to allergy. We asked Dr. Chu Kooi Yen, are we a step closer to curing allergy with Immunotherapy.
What is an allergy?
It is a reaction that occurs when our immune system responds abnormally to substances in the environment. A particular substance that causes an allergic reaction is named allergen. The most common allergens found include dust mites, pollens, animal danders and fungi.
When exposed to allergens, our immune system will identify these substances as foreign and potentially harmful. To defend itself, it will produce various defense chemical, Immunoglobulin E being one of it. These chemicals will subsequently trigger the body to react giving rise to the symptoms of sensitivity or allergy.
What are the most frequent allergens seen in your clinic?
In my practice, dust mite allergy is the most common allergens seen. Besides this, pollen allergy and animal dander allergy are also commonly seen. Occasionally, I do get a patient who is tested to have a food allergy. Seafood, soybean, and milk are among the common food allergens seen in my practice.
What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?
An allergic reaction can affect various organ. The most noticeable will be reaction involving the skin, the eyes, and the nose. The patient often presents to me with red and itchy skin rashes, watery eyes, as well as nasal itching, sneezing, and stuffy nose.
However, the most dangerous allergic symptoms involve the throat and lungs. One can develop swelling around the throat and lungs tissue causing breathing difficulty and asthmatic attack.
How can allergies be treated?
As prevention is better than cure, avoiding contact or exposure with allergens is important. Allergy symptoms can be treated with medication, be it topical application or oral systemic treatments.
A patient who suffers from chronic allergy symptoms can also opt for immunotherapy, also known as allergy vaccines.
What are allergy vaccines or immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a treatment aimed to desensitize our immune system to a particular allergen. Over time, immunotherapy treatment reduces the body’s sensitivity to the allergen, thus reducing symptoms and medications needed. It is the only solution that treats the origin of the disease. It can be supplemented with other medications that relieve the symptoms.
This treatment is administered daily by patients using a sublingual spray. To ensure the effectiveness of this treatment, good patient compliance is essential.
What is your advice for a patient suffering from allergy symptoms?
For those suffering from allergy symptoms, do discuss with your doctor the full therapeutic option available to get the best outcome from your treatment.
Dr. Chu Kooi Yen obtained her medical degree in University Malaya in 2003. She has a diploma in Dermatology (Thailand), Diploma in Aesthetic Medicine (AAAM), Diploma in Preventive, Regenerative and Anti-aging Medicine (USA), Fellowship in Dermato-Laser Surgery (Thailand) and Msc Anti-aging, Regenerative and Medical Aesthetic (M’sia). Dr. Chu Kooi Yen is currently practicing in Clinic Dr. Ko in Puchong and Kota Damansara. She is experienced in using immunotherapy with her patient.