GMC‎ > ‎Patients ABROAD‎ > ‎Allergology, immunology‎ > ‎

Airway allergies

Allergy is the hypersensitive reaction of the immune system to allergens

Allergens are generally proteins of substances (pollens, house dust mites, animal hair) causing hypersensitivity. Hypersensitivity is a pathologic reaction to substances that are usually harmless. Airway allergy may affect the whole bronchial system – allergic asthma –or may cause inflammation of the nasal mucosa – allergic rhinitis, (hay fever).

There are several underlying conditions of the allergic asthma. Symptoms of seasonal asthma occur only in a certain period of the year. They are triggered by airborne pollens, which are present only in a certain period of the year.
Symptoms of perennial asthma occur during the whole year. It is triggered mainly by house dust and animal hair. 

The occupational asthma can be attributed to an occupational environment. Animal allergies affect people, involved in breeding, care of laboratory animals.
Plant allergies are common among people, as bakers, confectioners, because of the dust inhalation of grain powders, flours, coffee, and tea. Enzyme allergy; people involved in manufacturing of detergents, food processing industry, pharmaceutical industry often suffer from asthma, triggered by enzymes.

Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) can be either seasonal of perennial. The seasonal attacks are triggered by pollens of wind pollinated plants and fungal spores. The symptomless winter season is terminated by the blooming trees in early springtime and grasses in April. In Hungary most of the seasonal allergy attacks is caused by ragweed and mugwort (Artemisia). The house dust mites, feeding on flakes of shed human skin, (animal hair) organic debris, are triggering allergies in the cold months, but often year round, - are one of the perennial allergens. Their concentration is increasing by cleaning, heating and with humidity over 60% in closed areas. Allergens of animal hair and bird feather cause also perennial allergies.


Main symptom of the allergic asthma is the shortness of breath, after inhaling the allergen, followed by cough and chest tightness. In more severe cases shortness of breath occurs when inhaling and exhaling together with speech difficulties. The attack lasts from some minutes to some hours, then the patient have no symptoms, and the respiratory functions became normal. When the acute asthma attack is not adequately treated, or the basic medication is neglected, severe health conditions can occur; the usual bronchial anti-spasmodics can’t help.
Even at rest, the patient is suffering from shortage of breath, have speech disorders, uses secondary respiratory muscles.

Itchy and runny nose, nasal congestion, frequent sneezing, conjunctivitis with watery, itchy eyes are typical symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Allergic conditions hinder every day’s activity, sleep disorders lead to the decrease of concentrating ability and to bad mood.


The only radical but efficient therapy is to avoid the triggering allergens, what is nearly impossible in practice. In case of house dust mite allergy, carpets and other dust collecting items (stuffed animals, pillows, and wall-hangings) are to be removed. Bed cloth is to be washed at 60 °C to destroy mites. Cleaning can trigger allergy attacks, so allergy affected persons are recommended to refrain from cleaning. It is recommended to remove not only living animals but furs, carpets, feather stuffed pillows from the proximity of animal hair allergies. Sleeping with closed windows, everyday hair wash, eyebrow wash, nose flush can help pollen allergic patients.

Medication is aiming at the prevention of allergy attacks, reducing inflammations, and easing symptoms. The inflammation reducing, so called preventive medication is applied both in allergic rhinitis and in allergic asthma. Nowadays corticosteroids are used as basic medication, intervening in nearly all stages of the inflammatory reaction; they administered locally for allergic asthma by aerosol dosing, for allergic rhinitis by nasal drops. 
Antihistamines are commonly used for the relief of allergies, because they inhibit the action of histamine by attaching to histamine receptors. There are more generations of this drug, the latest types have fewer side effects and they are more efficient. Administering by aerosol dosing is simple; it starts working in some minutes. Side effects are rare, when used locally, in usual dosing.  They relieve bronchospasm.