Inhalant Allergy

Inhalant allergy is more common than you think. Most appear during childhood, but some appear later in life. Very often, it is impossible for us to find out what inhalant we are allergic to, because inhalant allergic reaction usually appears hours after we come in contact with a specific inhalant. Inhalant includes house dust mites, molds, pollen and animals.

Inhalant allergy is an adverse reaction that occurs when we come in contact with a specific inhalant. It is driven by our own body’s immune system. In other words, your immune system does not like the inhalant you come in contact with, therefore produces antibodies against these particles, known as immunoglobulin E (IgE).  The next time you come in contact with the same inhalant, your immune system will release a huge amount of chemicals into your bloodstream causing an allergic reaction. Even a tiny amount of the inhalant particle can trigger an allergic reaction.

Signs and Symptoms

Common inhalant allergy symptoms:

  • Rashes, hives, itching of the skin
  • Sneezing
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Coughing
  • Watery, itchy or red eyes
  • Facial pain (from nasal congestion)
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness

Severe inhalant allergy symptoms (Anaphylaxis):

  • Swollen tongue and throat
  • Tightening of airway
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Severe wheezing
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Rise in pulse rate
  • Severe dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
Treatment and Management

There is no cure for inhalant allergy. Therefore, it is important to see a doctor and get yourself tested to identify the inhalant particle you are allergic to so you can avoid it in the future.

What you can do:

  • Get yourself tested to pinpoint the exact inhalant particle you are allergic to.
  • Avoid contact with inhalant you are allergic to.
  • Remove carpeting and dander-attracting furnishings.
  • Wash your mattress, pillow case, blankets etc with hot water every 1-2 weeks.
  • Allergen-proof encasing for pillows and mattresses are effective in reducing dust mite exposure.
  • Use High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaners, let it run continuously in a bedroom or living room. This can reduce allergen levels over time.
  • Regular use of a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner can reduce allergen levels.
  • If necessary, get rid of your pet you are allergic to (We know this is a difficult one).
  • If you have experienced inhalant allergy reaction before, your doctor may prescribe oral antihistamine or injectable adrenaline (in severe cases) for you to carry with you at all times.
  • If you have a inhalant allergy, it is strongly advisable to wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace, or carry a medical alert card that lets others know that you have an allergy in case you have a reaction and you are unable to communicate.


    If you experience inhalant allergy symptoms:

    • SEE A DOCTOR immediately.
    • Inform someone (family, friends, work colleagues). It is best if you can get someone to go to the doctor with you.
    • If you experience any of the severe symptoms mentioned, go to the EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT immediately.
    • If you have antihistamine or injectable adrenaline with you, use them en route to seeing a doctor.
    • Do not delay seeing a doctor because inhalant allergy may be life threatening.



Blood Test

Our immune system produces antibody called IgE against certain inhalant particles we come in contact with. Therefore, if we can detect these specific IgE antibodies, we are able to find out which inhalant we are allergic to.

This is simply known as inhalant allergy test. Only a blood sample is needed to carry out this test, and it can be done on the same day visit to the doctor. The results are extremely useful for you and the doctors to manage the allergies appropriately.

Results are typically available in about a week and are reported as a numerical value.


Allergens to Test for:

  1. D. pteronyssinus
  2. D. farinae
  3. Blomia tropicalis
  4. House dust - Greer
  5. Penicillium notatum
  6. Cladosporium herbarum
  7. Aspergillus fumigatus
  8. Candida albicans
  9. Alternaria tenuis
  10. Cockroach
  11. Cat
  12. Dog
  13. Guinea pig
  14. Bermuda grass
  15. Bahia Grass

1-4 are classified under dust mites

5-9 are classified under mold/fungus

10-13 are classified under animal/insect

14-15 are classified under pollen

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