Every year at least one new allergy affects almost one in five adults. This is about 19.5% of Italians and in particular one under-30s out of four subjects. The data comes from a recent research by Assosalute, the national association of self-medication drugs, which also showed that 40% of adolescents suffer from allergies, a percentage that could reach 50% by 2022. We talked about it with Prof. Giorgio Walter Canonica, head of the Centre for Personalized Medicine Asthma and Allergies at the Immuno Center of Humanitas.
Allergy: an abnormal system response
“Allergy is an anomalous response to certain substances, which triggers a series of annoying reactions – recalled the specialist by framing the problem -. If in spring many people have allergic reactions to pollen, with a consequent hay fever and rhinitis, it is important to remember that allergies can also follow us at home and that there are simple measures to be taken to avoid it. There are many substances in our homes that can cause respiratory problems in sensitive individuals, but also, in some cases, skin reactions. When the pollens come into contact with the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat, their external protective cover is “dissolved” because of the humidity and the proteins found inside are released, the so-called allergens, which are generally harmless for most people. “It may happen, however, that the immune system, that is, the ‘shield’ that defends our body from attacks by viruses and bacteria – continued Canonica – mistakenly identifies allergens as potentially harmful, reacting excessively to combat them and forming, through a series of complex steps, specific antibodies, the immunoglobulins E (IgE). So, every time the body comes into direct contact with the same allergen, some cells of the immune system, the mast cells, release histamine, the substance responsible for classic allergic disorders”.
The increase of the incidence of this disease
A survey carried out by Assosalute, the national association of self-medication drugs, revealed that 40% of adolescents suffer from allergies, a percentage that could reach 50% by 2022. This is alarming when we consider the cost of treatment and the side effects associated with the use of corticosteroids, which are mainly used by people suffering from severe allergies. The use of new biological drugs, on the other hand, has revealed new therapeutic potential that can relieve the disorder without increasing the risk of developing serious diseases such as kidney failure, diabetes, hypertension and obesity, all linked to the prolonged use of cortisone.