Those who suffer from allergies or asthma often report worsening symptoms in late summer and early autumn with nasal obstruction, sneezing, runny nose (allergic rhinitis), coughing, burning and tearful eyes, burning or tingling of the throat, wheezing and difficult breathing. We talk about this topic with Dr. Francesca Puggioni, pulmonologist and Deputy Director of the Center for Personalized Medicine: Asthma and Allergy in Humanitas.


Pollens, molds and mites

The most common allergies in this period are to pollens, molds and dust mites.

As far as the pollens are concerned, the blooms vary depending on the regions; in autumn, in the northern area of Italy, ambrosia and grasses are present, whilst in the Centre-South there is the parietal one. Climate change in recent years, which has led to an increase in temperatures, means that some summer plants continue to produce pollen in the autumn, actually extending the time of patient exposure to allergens.

Moreover, molds (Alternaria, Cladosporium, Aspergillus) can cause allergic reactions, both outdoors and indoors, in particularly humid environments. Molds can be responsible for particularly severe allergic reactions: not only oculorinitis but, in some cases amid predisposed persons, even violent asthmatic crises.

Dust mites are the most common allergens in our homes. They are tiny animals, of the same family as the spiders, not visible to the naked eye and which reproduce in the dust and feed on our skin flaking epithelium. They are found especially in mattresses, pillows, carpets, bookshelves and where it is more difficult to fight dust.


What to do?

If your symptoms occur for the first time and you suspect an allergy, consult your doctor. Correct diagnosis is essential to identify the real cause of the allergy and to study targeted treatment.

The therapy is personalized and depends on the patient’s situation. In general, topical steroid drugs such as nasal sprays represent gold standard therapy for rhinitis. In some cases, combined topical steroid and antihistamine therapy may be used.

Antihistamine drugs may be useful to reduce rhinitis-related symptoms (itching of the mouth, sneezing, itching of the nose).

The latest generation drugs ensure good symptom control with virtually no side effects.

Specific drugs are available for asthma: in most cases the control of the disease is achieved with corticosteroid drugs by inhalation that can also be associated with bronchodilator drugs. There are now drugs with a 24-hour half-life that can be taken once a day to increase the patient’s quality of life and reduce complications with treatment.

In cases of severe asthma, an accurate study of the immune system is essential, as well as a thorough evaluation of the function of our lungs and an evaluation of their degree of inflammation. In selected cases we can use the new biological drugs that allow the control of the disease, the reduction of exacerbations and especially to avoid the intake of corticosteroid by mouth.