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Allergies and Air Quality in the Philippines

Recently I have developed a skin rash on my leg and this got me to thinking. Except for a lactose intolerance allergy as a child, I never suffered from allergies growing up. Twelve years ago, when I moved from California to Florida I developed some skin conditions. As most of us know, an allergy is a reaction to some intolerance to something environmental, usually plant pollen or food. Therefore, if it is touched, in the air, breathed or eaten it can cause an allergy.

When I was in Florida, a doctor told me if you are prone to an allergy, it is a good chance it will happen in Florida. Since most are airborne caused and usually plant matter such as pollen, with the warm weather something is always blooming in Florida.

Well here in the Philippines such is the same. It is always warm and humid here. With those combination’s plants, mold and mildew is always growing. Also if you are not a native-born Filipino there are plants here that you have never been exposed to in your home country. These can also cause an allergy or skin intolerance due to being a new item exposed to the body.

When I developed the rashes in Florida, I went to two allergists and six dermatologists. All I was told was it is an unspecified dermatitis. Unspecified, in other words, they do not know what it is, what is causing it and no cure for it. Therefore, you scratch the itch and hope it will go away, at least for a short while for some relief.

When I first moved here, some of the skin conditions I had disappeared. I was thrilled. Some I had had for ten years and was amazed they cleared up. I guessed they were caused by something native to Florida and not present here in Davao. Well over time, most came back. They itch, I scratch, and then they subside for a while. Then they return and you are scratching again. I guess I should be thankful; they are tolerable and not as major eczema or psoriasis. I know of a few people affected with this and I sympathize with them.

Another situation visitors need to think of is respiratory conditions. With all the vehicles here, the exhaust fumes and dust in the air is a high level. If you have asthma, emphysema you might have difficulty here. To me it is like New York City years ago. Traffic is slow from the congestion and you see many vehicles belching black smoke out their exhaust pipes. You will see many motorcycle drivers with cloths or neoprene mouth and nose coverings. This is fine for the particulars in the air, but what about the exhaust gases.

All vehicles are required to have emission quality testing for vehicle renewal, but if this is operated accurately, why is there still so many vehicles not complying.

I know the Mayor is strong against pollution and public smoking. Unless a permit is granted for a smoking area, any area with a roof covering is to be considered a non-smoking area. One coffee shop I know had umbrellas over tables for a smoking area. They were informed this is a covering and no smoking allowed. I am a smoker, and from living in Florida and California where the anti smoking laws were enforced, I am used to such restrictions.

As time and technology continues to grow, I look forward to better conditions to be had by all living here.

12 Responses to “Allergies and Air Quality in the Philippines”

  1. alan cline says:

    I have always had problems with allergies and sinus problems in particular . When i first came to this country my sinus problems disappeared for a year or so but eventually came back .

    I asked a doctor about this on a return visit to the states and was basically told that “your body will adjust over time to the newer conditions” which i think meant “your body will find new ways to cause the same old problems ” . 🙂

  2. Ken says:

    Hey Bruce,

    I also have allergy problems, mine seem to be caused by dust and chemicals verus pollen while my now grown son’s allergies are caused by various plant life, why the difference?, I do not know. Since moving to the Las Vegas desert from the east coast he does not have as many problems. We both use allegra, Benedryl oral helps me too. I have learned to use dust covers and eye protection while working outside during inspections when required, which has really, really helped.

    I also have sinus problems, headaches, but we learn ways of dealing with it. It’s absolutely true that steam rooms used regularly helps cut down the amount of accurrences, it also filters out a lot chemicals and toxins, not to mention excess salt that we all probably intake too much of. I have a routine that I go through to ease the pain and to start the draining process, Still, sometimes I will be at work at my desk and all of a sudden it will start to drain, talk about relief…..still mine is what you will consider mild compared to many, many, many others.

    • Bruce says:


      I am glad you found relief. There are so many allergens that it most be difficult to cure all. I just wish I could find a cure for the itchy rashes I get.

    • Tom says:

      My grandson had severe allergies since he was only a couple of months old. Basicly he is alergic to almost everything. He seems to be growing out of a lot of it fortunately. During the course of this I talked with several doctors and read several articles on allergies.

      What you have may be a sensitivity to chemicals which is not quite the same thing as an allergy. Basicly now they are beginning to believe that most allergies are in fact an immune system disorder. In very basic terms one Doctor explained to me that your immune system is bored so it thinks up something to do. That doesn’t make it feel any better to know that I am sure since the discomfort is real no matter the source.

      The reason this distinction is impoortant is they are working on a treatment for severe allergies based on this research. Hope it turns out to be correct.

      • Bruce says:

        I hope there will be other options than antihistamines that do little for me.

        • Tom says:

          They have some new procedures they are trying to teach your body to tolerate what it reacts too. So if the treatment is effective the allergy is gone or at least greatly reduced. Of course it only works if they know what you are allergic to.

          • Bruce says:

            I forgot the term for it. Yes ago my cousin who was allergic to cats did a process to slowly lose the allergy.

  3. Marcel says:

    My wife and I have already decided to retire in Davao but air quality is something I am not sure I will be able to handle in a long term. Every time we are there, I am chocking constantly when out in the streets. Perhaps Samal Island will be better place for us to reside on eventually…

    • Bruce says:

      Samal would provide better air quality, but it will have other difficulties. No local malls for provisions.
      One area to think about is Mintal. Mintal is part of Davao City but in a higher elevation and has more open land and cooler temperatures. There are some upper scale sub-divisions there and only about a half hour drive to the mai city for shopping, entertainment and restaurants.

  4. Marcel says:

    Yes, I do agree Bruce,

    but i am not sure about those high-end subdivisions and gated communities yet. Property price is much higher there and I really don’t need amenities they offer for a monthly mandatory fee. Also, if possible I want to be reasonably close to the beach.
    While on Samal, you don’t need to shop every single day (weekly is enough) and it’s only 1/2 hour by barge across the water to Davao. I really like the fact that Samal is not overcrowded yet. I am actually glad that they did not build that proposed bridge yet, LOL, which will not materialize anytime soon in my opinion anyway…

    • Bruce says:

      I do not know of what price range you are planning and it does not matter. I just mentioned it.

      I agree if well planned, you do not need to go to the mall more often, I just know here at my house, there is always an excuse to go to the mall and we also enjoy just going there to cool off, have lunch or coffee or to see a movie. Everyone has their own life styles.

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