Are we all allergic?

As a rule, allergies manifest themselves in the first twenty years of life. However, today none of us can consider ourselves completely immune from her: her symptoms can suddenly manifest at any age.

It is in childhood (and possibly during the period of fetal development) that our first contacts with allergens occur. That is why it is often said about childhood allergies and less often about the one that begins in adulthood. However, today allergists meet with such cases more often: “Six months ago, I suddenly woke up with an allergy to a cat”; “I sunbathed in Crimea for 15 years without any problems, and now I am allergic to the sun”; “A few years ago I had the first attack of shrimp allergy – now I have to give up seafood.” Are we all, without knowing it, potential allergy sufferers?

Dormant reactions

“Yes, disease symptoms can occur at any age,” says allergist Patrick Rufin. “But they don’t become allergic in one day.” Before that, one must meet the allergen, be sensitive to it, that is, produce and accumulate in the memory of the body an immune response that will make itself felt at the next meeting. ” Between the first encounter and the manifestation of a symptom (rhinitis, asthma, eczema), the body is in a “dormant” state of so-called latent sensitivity, which can last several years. We can say that an allergic reaction lurks in our body until something triggers its mechanism.

Key figures

1 out of 4 people in the world is allergic.

17% of Muscovites are allergic.

2OOO deaths of Europeans (annually) are associated with allergies.

5% of allergies are respiratory.

5% of allergies are food.

According to: and the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation.

In everyday life, we are increasingly faced with increased concentrations of allergens. Over the past years, warmer winters have favored earlier seasonal pollination of plants. Pollen that causes severe allergies (for example, birch, cypress) spreads in an unusually powerful concentration. As a result, the allergy manifested itself not only in those who had experienced its symptoms since childhood, but – for the first time – in many adults. After an allergy to birch pollen, an organism can “discover” an allergy to hazelnuts, apples, cherries, peaches, carrots, potatoes, and celery. The magnitude of the problem is such that the phenomenon entailed the creation of a special WHO program *.  

As much as our immune defenses are weakened, the allergy intensifies as well. A variety of reasons why protection is reduced (for example, flu, which requires the creation of an army of antibodies to fight the virus, pregnancy, which mobilizes all the mechanisms to protect the child, severe stress, which can significantly reduce immunity) make us more vulnerable. Of course, predisposition to the disease is also important. The risk of allergies in a child whose parent is exposed to it is 30% higher than in other children. This figure rises to 60% in the case of double heredity – on the part of the father and mother **. 

Deep down

But what can I say, for example, about an attack of allergic rhinitis, which can happen both from cat hair or the smell of perfume, and … from a stressful situation? Or about asthmatics who feel approaching an attack when they see a bouquet of dandelions in the photo? An asthmatic attack (and 75% of asthmatics are also allergic ***) often entails a feeling of anxiety, which in itself makes the next attack more likely. What about those who suffer from eczema and regularly get stained before exams? In any case, allergy symptoms are signals that it is time for a person to listen to himself. “Psyche and physiology are inseparable, especially when it comes to allergies that manifest in adulthood,” said Professor Raisa Dairova, who has been studying the psycho-emotional causes of this disease for 30 years. – If there is a psychological reason that could lead to allergic reactions, then most likely it arose in childhood. “A small child cannot express his suffering in words and fantasies, and he turns to the” language “of the body, for example, responding to anxiety with skin rashes.” An adult can “inherit” this mechanism – and an allergy can become his “specific” reaction to stress.

Will it be asthma, rhinitis or dermatosis – it depends on the allergens that enter the body. If we are talking about food or cosmetics, then, most likely, allergies will manifest in the form of rashes. Bronchial asthma – inflammation in the airways, on the mucous membrane. “Any symptom is not accidental,” Raisa Dairova insists. – He always carries with him some kind of internal conflict. My research has shown that one of the reasons is separation processes, that is, separation from what the person was closely connected with (separation from a loved one or moving from one house to another). ”

In the world around

Other causes that allergists often talk about are so-called aggravating factors, or an unfavorable environment. It is “aggravating”, but not causing allergies, since (with the exception of cigarette smoke) there is no evidence so far that a polluted atmosphere would cause allergies. What both patients and doctors are equally confident in is that the allergic potential of tree pollen increases depending on the degree of environmental pollution. Industrial pollution changes the composition of pollen, increasing both the concentration of allergens and their speed of spread in the air.

“However, the psychological atmosphere that surrounds us is also important,” Raisa Dairova is sure. – If a person cannot “breathe freely”, everything “causes irritation”, this can also be an aggravating factor for the manifestation of allergies. In conditions of constant psychological stress, the chances of getting it from anyone, even a healthy person, increase. ”

In four walls

Our home is also a source of allergens. The atmosphere in the premises is sometimes more harmful than the air of the metropolis: buildings no longer breathe. Once it took about half an hour to ventilate the house. In an ordinary modern house with thermal insulation, ventilation time requires 20 times more. A study by pharmacologist Isabelle Momas shows that in 40% of families with a child with a respiratory disease, the children were remade less than a year before his birth, which led to an increase in air pollutants ** **. New materials used in furniture and home accessories evaporate annoying volatile organic compounds – their concentration is several times higher than what is already in the air. “House dust contains a tick so small that it can only be seen through a microscope,” adds Raisa Dairova. “He’s also an allergen.” The situation in the office is no better: photocopiers and printers become a trap for ozone, whose molecules play into the hands of allergens. This equipment should be installed in a regularly ventilated area.

Treat allergies

Having found symptoms of an allergy (sneezing, coughing, runny nose, asthma attacks, rash), you need to contact a specialist: it is necessary to identify an allergen, which is not easy even with the help of special tests. The patient himself should try to understand what could have caused such a reaction (new products, washing powder, animals …).

In addition to avoiding contact with an allergen, the most common treatment (disease symptoms) is taking antihistamines. Alternative approaches exist: homeopathy, acupuncture, relaxation. Psychotherapy makes seizures more rare and reduces their intensity, and along with treatment by an allergist (not only symptomatic), over time, complete elimination of allergies occurs.

event_note February 18, 2020

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