What Are Allergies?

Allergies are one of the most common ailments that we suffer from in the Malta. In fact, most of us could be allergic to something without realising it.

However, for the rest of us that know we have a recurring allergy, it can be a real nuisance that can affect us for life and can occasionally be dangerous.

What Causes An Allergy?

An allergy is the body’s response to a substance that would normally be harmless to other people. These substances are known as allergens and when allergens attack our bodies this is what is known as having an allergic reaction.

The most common allergens are pollen, house dust mites, pet hairs, nickel, latex, medicines and certain foods such as milk and eggs, although there are many other less common ones.

What Are The Symptoms?

Allergic reactions produce many different symptoms and affect people in different ways. Some of the most common symptoms include the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Runny nose
  • Nettle rash/hives
  • Swelling
  • Itchy eyes, ears, lips, throat and palate (roof of mouth)
  • Shortness of breath

In serious allergic reactions, for example to peanuts or insect stings, the person’s face and throat swells, their blood pressure drops and they find it difficult to breathe. This is called anaphylaxis and should be treated as a medical emergency.


Repeatedly coming into contact with allergens tends to make allergies worse. You can help to prevent this by taking the following steps:

  • Dust and vacuum regularly to reduce the number of dust mites in your home;
  • Avoid eating/using allergens you know can affect you;
  • If you suffer from hay fever, wear sunglasses to stop pollen from getting in your eyes, avoid going outdoors when the pollen count is high (check TV and radio weather reports for this), and don’t cut the grass or lie on freshly cut grass;
  • If you are allergic to pets, keep them outdoors or make sure they go into one room, preferably without carpet and certainly don’t allow them into the bedrooms;