Posted on Jun 03, 2015 by Travis Jones
Many people that come to Singapore love the geography of the city-state. While there is a substantial amount of urban sprawl, the concrete and glass of the Central Business District quickly gives way to beautiful seascapes and lush plant life the further you venture away. This dichotomy makes Singapore a marvelously livable city, but also had side effect that has a negative impact on many people. It’s nice to have trees and other flora around Singapore, but from time to time they can wreak havoc on a person’s sinuses. That’s right, we’re talking about allergies.
Allergies in Singapores
In January 2014, Singapore’s most comprehensive allergy study ever released its findings to the public. What it found was that house dust mites were actually the single large cause of respiratory allergies in the city, causing allergic reactions in 80% of people surveyed. These findings represented not only a blueprint for allergens here, but also for tropical urban environments in general. In fact, the study found that expatriates that moved to Singapore from a non-tropical climate became more sensitive to house dust mites over time. The report also found that 40% of the local adult population experienced allergic rhinitis, which is the scientific term for the inflammation of the nasal passage that is caused by the allergens we all breathe in. Other common allergens in the air in Singapore include tree and plant pollen, which generally are more prevalent during spring months, when flowers are blooming.
What is behind the itchy, stuffy, irritating feeling that we feel in our nose and eyes when we get allergies is an assortment of tiny particles composed of dust, pollen, dander, mites and other pollutants that float free in the air. When this foreign material enters the body, our immune systems produce reactions to fight them that, in reality, are the unpleasant sensations that we feel when we think of seasonal allergies, which include watery, red, swollen eyes, itchiness, a runny or clogged nose, sneezing, coughing, headache, and sore throat. Although our bodies are trying to help us, it can cause us a lot of pain in the process.
Prevention and treatment
In order to prevent the symptoms of allergies, it may be first be a good idea to figure out exactly what it is that you are allergic to. There are a number of allergists in Singapore to chose from who can administer tests not only to see which airborne allergens affect you the most, but also check for allergies to food, medications and other substances. Locations such as the Allergy Centre at Singapore General Hospital or, for children, the Allergy Service at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital can provide such tests and advise you on the best steps to take to protect yourself and your family from allergies.
Additionally, for those particularly susceptible to home allergens, making sure that you have hard flooring in your home (as opposed to carpet) is a good idea. Be sure to clean and vacuum your home regularly, and run and clean air conditioners or electronic air filters regularly. These steps should minimize your family’s exposure to home allergens, especially if you have pets.
Once a person is already experiencing the symptoms of allergic rhinitis, there are a number of medications one can take to alleviate them. Anti-histamines can be purchased over-the-counter to stifle the body’s natural allergic reaction. Another treatment is nasal steroids and sprays, which have both prescription and over-the-counter versions. Finally, allergy shots or immunotherapy can be administered to slowly help a person build immunity to certain allergens over time. This process can potentially take 3 to 5 years to be effective.
Allergies and insurance
For nearly all of the above tests and treatments, it is a good idea to have a comprehensive health insurance plan. This is especially true for expats, as they are unlikely to be able to take advantage of the government subsidized healthcare that Singaporeans have access to. Even those with existing insurance plans will want to review what is covered with regards to allergies, as many of them will consider allergies, or asthma related to allergies, to be pre-existing conditions that may not be eligible for coverage. Luckily, there are certain health insurance plans that will not have exclusions for pre-existing conditions.
For example, International Health Insurance plans, like those available through Pacific Prime, will provide benefits for allergies or virtually any other condition that would normally be excluded under typical health insurance plans as pre-existing conditions. Additionally, they will enable the policy holder to have access to tests and treatment for allergies in any medical facility they choose anywhere in the world. To find out more about International Health Insurance plans, contact Pacific Prime Singapore. Our agents are available to answer all of you inquiries, as well as provide you with a free quotation that will compare numerous plans from the best insurers in Singapore.