The following are the main medical allergy treatments I have taken over the years to alleviate my symptoms. Like any medication for chronic illnesses, they have had mixed results with their lot of long-term undesirable effects.
More commonly called steroids, they are an anti-inflammatory medicine used on a short-term basis to address an exasperation of the condition (e.g. eczema) or severe attack (e.g. asthma). Unfortunately, as a child, I was made to take them in tablet form on a long-term basis for a perennial rhinitis. When my eczema started I was treated with steroids straight away by way of pills and topical ointments. I still have a brown inhaler (Beclamethasone) for my asthma that I am supposed to use on a regular basis, but I don’t since my asthma is quite mild. At night I use a decongestant (Beconase or Avamys) for my blocked nose to breathe better. Regular use makes the inside lining of the nostrils very sensitive and prone to bleeding. In winter, when I get a chest infection my GP prescribes a short course of steroid tablets together with antibiotics. 15 years ago I had a botched eye operation following a retinal detachment. I was prescribed steroid and antibiotic eye drops as a follow-up treatment that caused a cataract in both eyes.
Their side effects are wide ranging depending on the length of time they are taken and the dosage. In my case they made my eczema, asthma, rhinitis and eyesight worse. It would take too long to enumerate their side effects most of them very serious (like stomach ulcer and diabetes). My 7-year-old son is prescribed steroids for his asthma and rhinitis but because of my loathing for them, I don’t let him use them regularly. The last thing I want is to see him end up like me (healthwise).
Doctors love giving this medication and patients don’t usually like them. It’s a typical allergy medical treatment from the medical school book. In an allergic reaction, the cells release a chemical substance called histamine which causes inflammation. So an anti-histamine will try to block the effect of that chemical substance. Every doctor I have consulted for my allergies (rhinitis, eczema) has given me anti-histamines despite my arguing they don’t help me. The only effect they seem to have is sleepiness. The new ones claim not to cause drowsiness but that doesn’t make them any more efficient at stopping itchiness or sneezing. I stopped using them long ago and my current consultant dermatologist admits they don’t usually work.
Originally used to prevent organ rejection after a transplant and in autoimmune diseases. Since in an allergic reaction the immune system is overreacting, it‘s logical to weaken it. For a long time I was reluctant to take them because of acute side effects (notably headaches). I tried Methotraxate for a couple of years, and now I have settled with Azathioprine. My dermatologist swears by it as it had a dramatic effect on some of her patients. Again the results don’t quite match the theory but I have to admit that the eczema on my body has mostly cleared. It doesn’t have the same effect on my face where the eczema is worse, but I can’t bring myself to stop them despite the side effects. These kinds of medical allergy treatments are very powerful and dangerous. I have to see my consultant regularly and have a blood test every month to check any effect on my liver and kidneys. They lower the body’s resistance to infection and can cause other serious side effects like birth defects when taken during pregnancy or at the time of conception if taken by either partner. Anybody thinking of taking immunosuppressants must discuss the risks and benefits with their doctor beforehand.
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