July 8 is National Allergy Day in the Philippines. The event has its roots in Presidential Proclamation #978, s2006. Then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo only made it an annual event the year after, however, thanks to another proclamation (Presidential Proclamation #1313, s2007).
In both proclamations, the Philippine Department of Health is explicitly named the lead coordinator of the celebration. In addition, the Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology or PSAAI is also tasked with providing resources to aid the celebration. It also contributes by organising events like 2015’s mall-based exhibits.
The proclamation was a response to survey data indicating that Filipino children had some of the highest incidence rates for allergies and asthma in the region. In fact, allergic rhinitis has been shown to afflict a startling number of Filipinos. A 2008 survey showed it to affect around 20% of respondents, which translates to 2 out of every 10 Filipinos.
Alarming as these figures are, we are far from alone. Estimates put allergic rhinitis incidence rates for the global population at anywhere from 10% to 30%. 2 out of every 10 US citizens also displays allergy or asthma symptoms. In fact, allergic diseases have been on the rise for the past five decades.
There may be any number of reasons for this, but research still continues on the topic. For instance, it was found only a few years ago that allergies could not only be hereditary but also related to gender. Whatever the case, it is important that we do our parts to combat one of the greatest culprits to allergy-related fatalities or complications: illiteracy on the topic.
What You Should Know
We have already mentioned that allergies are common. This does not mean you can take them lightly, though. They can lead to complications like asthma.
Unfortunately, even asthma is often not taken very seriously because of the lack of knowledge about it. Many do not even make an appointment with the doctor after seeing asthma symptoms. Yet asthma can kill.
In the US alone, for instance, 10 persons die each day from asthma. 65% of these are women. And most of them are actually considered avoidable.
Asthma is not even the only complication you can face from untreated allergies. There are of course anaphylaxis, bronchial infections, ear infections, sinusitis, and more.
In many cases, people simply fail to realise that they even have an allergy in the first place. As such, it would be wise to keep the following symptoms in mind:
- Respiratory distress or difficulty breathing
- Swelling, usually around the face (for food allergies, more specifically around the mouth)
- Reddish and itchy eyes
- Blockages of the nasal passages, including with excessive mucus
- Rashes or itching of the skin
Any of these may indicate an allergy, but at least 2 of them are present in most cases. You may not always know what is causing the allergy either, but you should still see your doctor about it just in case. For safety, be sure to do the following prior to seeing your personal physician:
- If this is not the physician you have been seeing in the past, try to work up a review of your medical history to give to him. Include past illnesses, present conditions, and current medications, of course. All of this would be easier if your past and present physicians use EHR software like SeriousMD, as you could simply pass data from the former to the latter digitally.
- In case it is not listed in your health records, make a list of all medications and supplements you may be taking at the moment.
- Make a list of the history of allergies in your immediate family. Remember that genetics may play a part, after all.
- Make a list of all of your symptoms.
What Can You Do?
You can participate in the public exhibits and attend events like the PSAAI’s at the QC Fishermall this year. You can learn a lot about allergies there, as well as how to manage them when the allergens are found in unavoidable areas (at the workplace, for example). Such knowledge is obviously of great practical use and thus well worth learning.
Most local government health units often have their own offerings to the public on this day. Many offer free treatment and consultations for allergic patients, for example. You can benefit from this if you have been putting off your own consultation or know someone who has.
Remember that part of the fight is to help educate others. If you know others who do not know what you do now, you can explain it to them or simply share this article. Given how many people we now know suffer allergies, it is certain that there is someone in both your smaller and larger social circles who can benefit from this information.