Allergies have increased seven-fold over the past three decades and affect up to 30% of the adult population in the USA. In Italy the figures are similar and one in three Italians already suffer of allergies with that number estimated to rise by 2025 to about 50% of the adult population. These are the numbers that Dr. Francesca Puggioni, Pneumonologist in Humanitas in Rozzano, provided ive on TG4, on Thursday’s episode 6 of October.
The symptoms of allerges include: cold allergy, asthma, dermatitis, and anaphylactic shock. The relationship between the patient and the allergist or the lung specialist, is important in order to obtain a clear diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Why are allergies so prevalent?
As Dr. Puggioni explains, the factors are many. First of all the genetic component plays an important role. “Allergies are transmitted from parents to children, we are born predisposed to developing allergies and from generation to generation it is always easier to have allergic parents and therefore children allergic”.
Another decisive factor is that children today are “too clean”. “It’s a little ironic, but it is worth noting that if we do not develop immunity at a young age against viral or bacterial infection, our immune system diverts its attention and develops antibodies to harmless substances such as pollen or dust mites. This is because we no longer live in the countryside and children play less on the floor or outdoors. Thus living more in contact with chemicals and less with nature. Allergies develop especially in pediatric ages and then explode as adults”.
Allergies at home
Another risk factor is the presence of domestic animals, such as dogs, cats, hamsters and rabbits. In such cases it is good to pay attention to the heating/cooling/ventilation system, because as Dr. Puggioni explains: “The filters can accumulate allergens, toxins or molds. It is good to periodically clean the filters and check them frequently”.
The importance of diagnosis
First, it is good to talk with your allergist or pulmonologist, reporting any symptoms and explaining your own living conditions. Only through this relationship with the specialist will you find answer to your questions, get a firm diagnosis (with allergy testing) and directions on how to act. “The doctor himself -emphasizes Dr. Puggioni- tries to adapt the treatment to the patient’s life”. In any case, you should avoid do it yourself remedies and medication, which can sometimes cause further damage.
The presence of an allergy does not necessarily lead to deprivation: “No you’re not forced to take a stuffed animal from a child who is allergic to dust mites, you can put the plush toy in the freezer overnight to remove the mites for about a month”. Washing it in high temperatures and drying thoroughly will also help.