Alergie warto szybko zdiagnozować

What is an allergy?

Allergy, also known as hypersensitivity, is an abnormal reaction of the body to substances present in our environment called allergens, which do not cause any symptoms in healthy individuals. Since allergy is an acquired reaction, prior contact with the substance causing symptoms is necessary for its development. Sometimes, a single or several contacts with an allergen are enough to develop an allergy, while in other cases, it develops after many years of such exposure.

It is estimated that 10-40% of the population suffers from allergic diseases. Both genetic predispositions and the environment we live in influence the development of allergies. If both parents have allergic diseases, the risk of developing allergies in their child reaches 50-70%, while in the case of one parent or sibling having the disease, the risk ranges from 20-40%. The most significant factors in the development of allergies include environmental pollution (dust, exhaust fumes, tobacco smoke), disturbances in the body’s microbiome, antibiotic misuse, excessive “sterilization” of our surroundings, lack of contact with nature, and stress. The first years of a child’s life and the prenatal period are also extremely important. Factors such as the method of delivery (cesarean section), breastfeeding duration (less than 6 months), the age of diet diversification in infants (delayed introduction of new foods), the timing of introducing formula (first days of life), and the use of antibiotics play a significant role.

How to recognize an allergy?

The most important step in allergy diagnostics is collecting a detailed medical history. In case of suspected allergic basis for the symptoms, diagnostic tests such as skin prick tests with allergens, determination of specific IgE antibody levels for allergens in the blood, patch tests, provocation tests, and spirometry can be performed. The next step in diagnostics is to confirm the connection between the symptoms and the test results.

Treatment of allergies.

In the case of allergic diseases, the most important approach is to avoid exposure to the allergen causing symptoms. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, especially in the case of sensitization to airborne allergens. In such cases, medications aimed at alleviating symptoms can be used (e.g., antihistamines, leukotriene inhibitors, glucocorticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, and others). However, the only causal and disease-modifying treatment for allergic diseases is specific immunotherapy. Depending on the indications, immunotherapy can be administered subcutaneously, sublingually, or orally. It is important to remember that desensitization is a process, and to achieve long-lasting effectiveness, it should last at least 3 years.