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.