Greek expert explains how not to let allergies spoil your Spring


Mr. Dionysios Giannakopoulos, allergist at Metropolitan Hospital, provides detailed instructions for early diagnosis and combating spring allergies.

Allergies are a dysfunction of the immune system characterised by an intense hypersensitivity reaction against normally harmless substances found in our natural environment: the air we breathe, the food we consume, insect bites, objects we come into contact with and medicinal substances. The main risk factors are genetic and environmental, and people who suffer from allergies are classified as atopic.

The substances that potentially cause an allergic reaction are called allergens. Among them are flower pollen—especially in spring—animal hair, household dust, atmospheric fungi, some foods, and medicines. In addition, severe allergies can cause insect bites. One of the flowers that causes the most serious allergies is the peony, whose pollen circulates strongly in the atmosphere.

Various antibodies circulate in our blood, aiming to isolate and destroy any foreign substance that can harm us. Immunoglobulin E (immunoglobulin E or IgE for short) is primarily involved in the mechanisms of allergy.

After contact with the allergens, the specific antibodies are activated and initiate a series of reactions. First, specific E antibodies are produced, which attach to the surface of special cells called mast cells. These cells are abundant in the nose, eyes, skin, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract and contain chemicals (e.g., histamine), the so-called "mediators" that "capture" the allergenic substance each time.

It is worth noting that allergy is one of the most common manifestations of an immune system disorder and occurs in almost one-third of the population.

What are the symptoms caused by airborne allergens?

These symptoms mainly affect the nose, with people experiencing runny noses, stuffy noses, sneezing, itchy palate and tongues, and excessive mucus production. They can even lead to allergic bronchitis, cough, and asthma.

They can also affect the skin, causing eczema or rashes. Symptoms also appear in the eyes, with conjunctivitis, redness, itching, or swelling of the eyelids.

How is allergy diagnosed?

The main diagnostic methods are:

1. Allergic skin tests (skin prick tests, intradermal and PATCH TESTS)

Allergy skin tests are the most common method to detect an allergy. It is done with a light scratching of the skin after we have previously injected one drop of each allergenic substance. If a reaction such as irritation, swelling or itching occurs, then there is an allergic predisposition to the specific substance.

2. Hematological tests (RAST)

It is a blood test, more expensive than the previous one, with less immediate results. It is mainly used in cases where it is impossible to carry out skin tests.

3. Measurement of total IgE

It is mainly carried out in people with an allergic predisposition.

4. BAT (Basophil Activation Test)

5. LTT (Lymphocyte Transformation Test)

Spirometry is necessary for bronchial asthma, which is performed and repeated after the subject has inhaled with a Beta2-stimulator.

How can we prevent allergies?

Prevention is important. One can avoid, as much as possible, known allergenic substances and move away from places that are proven to cause frequent and severe allergic attacks.

There are patients who consistently present symptoms of allergic rhinitis or bronchial asthma every spring. In these cases, we must start the appropriate treatment about a month before the beginning of spring to avoid the manifestation of the disease or to limit the symptoms.

Nevertheless, if you experience allergic symptoms, you should contact a specialist allergist so that he can recommend the appropriate treatment.

The solution for allergies

First aid can come from an antihistamine, such as antihistamine pills with minimal side effects, nasal sprays, of which cortisones are considered safer and with the correct dose, and inhaled asthma medications.

At the same time, for many years, there has been desensitisation, the so-called allergy shots.

In this treatment, by administering the allergen protein, either by injection or sublingually, the patient becomes familiar with the specific substance, as his immune system learns that this substance should not bother him.

Dionysios Giannakopoulos is an Allergist at the Metropolitan Hospital. Translated by Paul Antonopoulos.

READ MORE: Lung Cancer: Greek expert explains all the advances in treatment and the test that detects the disease.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024