In our country, 25% of the population lives with a form of allergy and the trend is growing. Allergies are the third cause of chronic illness after osteoporosis and hypertension.

Allergy is an excessive reaction of the immune system to external stimuli (allergens) considered harmful, but otherwise harmless in non-allergic people. The immune system produces IgE antibodies to allergens and antibodies give rise to allergic manifestations; the tissues and organs involved in allergic reactions are the lower airway, the skin, nasal mucous membranes and the eyes.


The incidence of allergies


Allergies are common in children, but as Professor Giorgio Walter Canonica, Head of the Centre for Personalized Medicine: Asthma and Allergology at Humanitas, explains in an interview: “Today there is no longer an age limit in the onset of allergies. Allergic asthma may occur after the age of 70. The increase in the prevalence of allergic diseases, which has seen a growth trend calculated at 5% in the last five years in all industrialized countries, is a real health problem that concerns children and adolescents in particular, for whom the environmental conditions seem to be significant in the first years of life”.


Risk factors


Pollution, mites and excessive cleaning are phenomena that favor asthma and allergic rhinitis, two closely linked manifestations. The specialist stresses that particles in polluted air are a major cause of allergy, and points out that a study has shown that children living on the first floor have a higher risk of asthma than those living on the upper floors.

“In the world population the prevalence of allergic rhinitis is estimated at between 15 and 25%, while the latest data show that one in five people in Italy suffer from it. The most affected individuals by allergic rhinitis respond to the profile of a young woman (slight prevalence over men), with an age between 15 and 30 years and allergic factors in 20% of cases,” explains Prof. Canonica.