​Allergies


An allergy is a person’s response or hypersensitivity to something in the environment. Allergies occur when a person’s immune system responds abnormally to a typically harmless substance. Substances such as mould, pollen or dust, which trigger an abnormal reaction by the immune system, are known as allergens. Exposure to allergens results in the release of antibodies and inflammatory chemicals, including histamine (body’s natural allergic response compound) into the body. It is histamine which causes symptoms (such as itchy eyes, runny nose, etc.) due to allergies.

Most allergens are found in the air, resulting in symptoms manifesting in eyes, ears, nose and throat. Besides air-borne allergens, some people may be allergic to certain foods, resulting in an allergic reaction to consumption of that substance. Common allergens include pollen, house dust mites, mould, animal fur or feathers.

Allergies related to the eyes, ears, nose and throat can be seasonal or may recur all year round. Seasonal allergies are affected by the weather and occur in certain seasons, for example hay fever or allergic rhinitis may be caused by pollen released into the air at spring time.

Reactions to allergens are usually mild and manageable. Some common symptoms associated with allergies related to the eyes, ear, nose and throat include:

  • Watery and itching eyes

  • Runny nose with colourless discharge from the nose

  • Clogged ears, which may result in pain in the ear

  • Itching ears

  • Frequent sneezing

  • Itchiness in the roof of the mouth

  • Cough

  • Scratchy throat

  • Shortness of breath

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue and irritability

  • General discomfort in carrying out daily activities

In rare cases, allergic reactions can become moderate or even serious, for example, vomiting, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, tightness of the chest and wheezing. Such allergic reactions require urgent treatment and you must seek immediate consultation from the highly trained staff at The Aga Khan University Hospital the only internationally accredited hospital of Pakistan, where you will be offered multidisciplinary medical care to help manage your symptoms.

If your allergy symptoms are causing you persistent discomfort on a frequent basis, it is advised to consult a specialist working with the Eye and ENT Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital. Over-the-counter anti-histamine medications are meant for short-term use as they lose their effectiveness if used for an extended period of time. In some patients, symptoms of an allergy may persist over several weeks, necessitating a visit to a doctor to prescribe an alternate course of treatment that will work. 

You can be assured of receiving the best quality medical care at The Aga Khan University Hospital. Our expert and highly trained staff at the Eye and ENT Service Line can provide you with additional information and medical advice. We have an internationally accredited staff with which you can safely and privately discuss your symptoms, gain advice and receive personalized treatment and care.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Controlling and managing allergies is most effective when multiple approaches are used instead of a single treatment method. To devise a treatment plan for you, your doctor will take a detailed medical history and conduct a thorough examination of the ears, nose, eyes and throat. The doctor will also evaluate your sinuses and ask questions related to any other conditions which may be worsening your allergies, such as asthma or a family history of allergies.

Besides taking the medical history and conducting a physical examination, your doctor may also recommend allergy testing to determine which allergens trigger an allergic reaction in you. There are various ways of performing allergy testing. One of the ways is skin testing, also known as dermal testing, in which a small amount of the allergen is introduced onto the patient’s skin to identify any specific reaction to that allergen. Besides skin testing, blood tests are also done to diagnose allergies, such as food allergies. 

Based on the tests, your medical history and physical examination, your doctor will determine an appropriate course of action to help relieve you from your symptoms.

At The Aga Khan University Hospital treatment recommended by your doctor at the Eye and ENT Service Line will be multi-fold. With a commitment to quality health care, you can be confident that you will receive personalized treatment and care by your doctor.   

Some of the treatment methods employed to manage allergies will include:

  • Antihistamine medications which will help reduce symptoms from allergies. Latest antihistamine medications do not cause unwanted side effects such as sleepiness or excessive dryness of the nose and throat.

  • Decongestants for relieving short-term symptoms. These are very effective but should not be used over a long-term basis to avoid dependency on them.

  • Diet controls

  • Allergy injections or allergy drops under the tongue in cases of severe allergic reactions. These methods are known as immunotherapy and they work by gradually desensitizing patients to allergens over time, helping cure them of their allergies.

Besides these treatment options, your doctor will also recommend some lifestyle changes to help you avoid exposure to allergens. For example, you may be advised to observe certain precautions while doing household chores that expose you to allergens, such as wearing a mask while dusting around the house. You may also be advised to get rid of sources of mould and mildew, remove carpets from bedrooms, take special care if you have pets around the house, install an air purifier, regularly change air filter in air conditioning systems, and take any measures to remove the allergens from the surrounding environment.

The internationally trained doctors at the Eye and ENT Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital are highly trained in the diagnosis and management of allergies. You can discuss your medical history and symptoms in complete confidence with your doctor to help develop a personalized course of treatment to effectively manage your symptoms.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage



The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider. ​