How to effectively detect allergies and what modern treatment methods to use? Allergist Olga Kolesnikova answers these questions.
What symptoms indicate the presence of allergies?
— Looking at what type of allergy we are talking about. Among the main ones: abundant discharge from the nose, sneezing, itching in the nose, eyes or ears. Rashes on the body or abdominal pain may appear.
How do allergy symptoms differ from signs of a respiratory viral infection?
- Both there and there will be a cold. But with SARS, a runny nose usually lasts 7–10 days. If it is longer, up to three weeks, you should think about the presence of allergic rhinitis.
An itchy nose is not characteristic of a respiratory infection, as it is of an allergy itself. The same goes for sneezing fits. In both cases, there may be an increase in temperature. However, with allergies, when the peak is reached, an increase is possible up to 37.1–37.2 degrees. And with infection, it is more often observed — 38–38.5.
Symptoms such as headache and joint pain are also more typical of a viral illness.
Which allergies are most often activated with the onset of spring and summer?
— With the first rays of the sun, at the end of March, trees begin to bloom, so the first allergy symptoms appear in people who are sensitive to tree pollen. There are three flowering periods in Ukraine:
- The first is from the end of March to the beginning of May, when the trees bloom.
- The second is the beginning of May and the middle of July. At this time, grasses bloom.
- The third — from mid-July until the cold weather. Blooming weeds.
Some people react only to tree pollen, others to grass or weed pollen. And there are people who, unfortunately, react in all periods of flowering. And here, as their allergy begins at the end of March, it ends only around the beginning of October.
What will happen if the allergy is not treated?
— Today there are three methods of allergy treatment. The first and most effective is to never come into contact with the allergen. However, with regard to respiratory allergies, this is practically impossible, because you cannot escape from pollen. The same applies to allergies to house dust, animals, and mold. Therefore, there are two more ways.
The second is the use of the so-called symptomatic therapy. We can prescribe antihistamine tablets, nasal sprays, inhalers and thus remove the signs of allergy.
The third method of treatment is allergen-specific immunotherapy. This is treatment with the help of the allergen to which a person has a reaction. This therapy is year-round. It is held for a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years.
How effective is allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT) in the treatment of allergies?
— This is the only therapy that prevents allergic rhinitis from turning into bronchial asthma. In the same way, half of the cases of allergies end if they are not treated.
What modern methods of allergy detection exist? But why is the ALEX² test the best among them?
There are two methods: skin prick tests, when the allergen is dripped onto the skin of the forearm or back and a superficial puncture of the skin is made through the drop of the allergen with a plastic lancet, and after 15 minutes the reaction is assessed. If a person is allergic, a blister, redness or itching will appear.
The second option is the detection of specific immunoglobulins in the blood. Perfect in this case ALEX². The test allows you to take blood once and simultaneously determine a person’s sensitivity to 295 allergens and allergen molecules. This is literally the allergy passport of the patient. Having donated blood once, a person immediately understands to which pollens, animals, food products, etc. he has a reaction.
In addition, skin tests cannot be done during the flowering period if the patient is taking antihistamines or has skin diseases. Therefore, if the allergist sees reason, he immediately prescribes a test ALEX² and sees a complete picture of the patient’s condition.
For the doctor, it is important not only whether the patient has a sensitivity, let’s say, to ragweed or not, but to which molecule of ragweed the body reacts. Looking at these molecules, we understand how effective special therapy will be. We can also give individual recommendations to the patient, including dietary recommendations. For example, with sensitivity to birch, there are cross-reactions with stone fruits, nuts, carrots and celery. A person will eat a green apple, and he will have an itch in his mouth or a sore throat.
Is it possible to reduce the risk of allergies in a child during pregnancy?
— The only thing that a mother can do is to avoid smoking places, not to smoke herself, to adhere to a good sleep and diet. It is recommended not to limit yourself in fruits and vegetables. If, in principle, one of the parents suffers from allergies, the child has a 50% chance of getting allergies. If both parents — 80%.
According to one of the theories, the earlier the family gets pets, in particular dogs, cats, the more the risk of allergies in the baby decreases.
Why does a person with’realityIs there an allergy and is it possible to prevent its development?
— In a global sense, today every third inhabitant of the Earth suffers from allergies. By 2030, WHO promises one in two. The most common theory regarding the development of allergies is excessive sterility. Parents maniacally wash their children’s hands, treat them with napkins. As a result, the immune system encounters fewer bacteria and parasites. Namely, the same link of immunity is responsible for the fight against the latter and allergies. Therefore, the body is forced to fight with “potentially safe things” — allergens. Excessive air pollution has no less impact.
Treatment of allergies depends on what factors.
The first thing an allergist does is to carefully collect the patient’s complaints and compile a medical history:
- under what conditions did the symptoms appear,
- what time of year
- which food products the patient reacts to,
- whether there is a reaction to an insect bite, contact with animals.
After this conversation, the allergist doctor roughly understands which allergens there is a reaction to and sends the patient for examination. As an allergist, if I see that a person is allergic to pollen, food, or animals, I immediately prescribe a test ALEX². The patient donates blood and comes to me with answers.
Only a doctor can decipher the analysis! Even if a person independently decided to take the test, he cannot interpret it himself. It would be correct for a doctor to do this, because allergies are primarily symptoms confirmed by tests. And when it becomes clear what a person is allergic to, then individual treatment recommendations are already given.