Sneezing, red eyes, itchy nose, coughing, and shortness of breath. As soon as spring comes, allergic people start to worry.

According to the National Association of Self-Medication Drugs (Assosalute), about one in five adults (19.5%) are affected by allergies every year: the average number of young people under 30 is one in four.

It has also been calculated that by 2022, 50% of the Italian population could be affected.

Professor Giorgio Walter Canonica, head of the Centre for Personalized Medicine Asthma and Allergies at the Immuno Center of Humanitas, talked about it in an interview: “When the pollens come into contact with the mucous membranes of the eyes, the nose, and the throat, their outer protective shell is “dissolved” due to moisture and the proteins present inside are released, the so-called allergens, which are generally harmless to most people – explained Canonica, former past president of the Italian Society of Allergology, Asthma and Clinical Immunology.

“It may happen, however, that the immune system, that is, the “shield” that defends our body from virus and bacterial attacks, 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 contact with the same allergen, some cells of the immune system, the mast cells, release histamine, the substance responsible for classic allergic disorders.

When sneezing relentlessly and a congested nose leave no way out for allergy sufferers, it is possible to put in place some strategies to keep illnesses at bay. But, warn the allergist is important, avoid the DIY and fall into some mistakes, often caused by bad information and fake news, and always rely on experts.

Fake news about pollen allergy

The storm brings relief: false

If it is true that the production of pollen is greater in sunny days, and in general the rain helps against allergy because water destroys pollen and moisture promotes the closure of the anthers of the flowers, reducing the release of new granules, it is also true that in the early stages of thunderstorms, the whirlwinds of air and wind can raise the pollen, thus increasing the risk of allergies.

The only possible test is the prick test: false

As we have seen, there are several tests used and recommended by doctors and allergists to discover allergens that trigger crises in patients: from the most common prick test, to spirometry; from nasal endoscopy to nasal cytology.

It is dangerous to take antihistamines before driving: false

The contraindications complained of by patients include drowsiness, loss of clarity, and lack of concentration. “This is true for “older” antihistamines, those of the first generation, such as diphenhydramine, chlorfenyramine, triprolidine, dimenhydrinate, which act on H1 receptors of histamine, but also on many other types of receptors at the level of the central nervous system, causing precisely soporific, but also other side effects, such as dry mouth, visual disturbances, constipation, urinary retention,” said the professor. “However, this does not concern the newest antihistamines, of second generation, such as loratadine, desloratadine, cetirizine, levoetyrizine, bilastine, ebastine, rupatadine, which are more selective towards the H1 and overcome with more difficulty the blood-brain barrier, reaching less easily the central nervous system. They are therefore better tolerated and sleepiness is very limited.

Use bronchodilator sprays several times a day for asthma: false

The bronchodilators in spray are often used in patients who complain of “hunger for air”, which act by relaxing the muscles of the respiratory tract and allow a greater flow of air to the lungs, reducing the feeling of breathlessness. “If asthma is mild – said Canonica – bronchodilators with short duration of action can be used as needed. The latter occurs within five minutes of intake, reaches its peak within 30-60 minutes and lasts for four to six hours.

Those who are allergic to grasses should avoid bread and pasta: false

Allergy to grasses and wheat does not necessarily mean that pasta, bread, rice and other cereal products are eliminated from the diet. These products, doctors remind us, can also be consumed by those who are allergic to wheat. This is not the case for some people allergic to pollen, who among the symptoms also see a reactivity to foods that can cause swelling and itching in the mouth, to arrive, in the most serious cases, to determine the worsening of the symptoms of respiratory allergy.