Why Doctor: According to a report published March 22 by the Association Asthma & Allergy, one in three adults born after 1980 is currently affected by allergies. According to estimates, in 2050, half of the world’s population will be affected by at least one allergic pathology. Do you confirm that these conditions are a major public health problem?
Catherine Cuequet: Unfortunately yes ! The allergy community has been advocating for years with policy makers to make allergies a great national cause. It is such a problem that the French Federation of Allergology (FFA) and patient associations have drawn up a five-year plan to combat these diseases, which has been submitted to all candidates for the presidential election. The objective of this project is to raise the awareness of the authorities about the importance of cruel reduction of allergens, poly-allergies, cross allergies and allergens to improve the management of these pathologies.
– In France, the frequency of hay fever has quadrupled over the past three decades. It now affects over 25% of the general population in France. How to explain this surge in allergic rhinitis?
In France, a slight increase in respiratory allergies has been observed in recent years, mainly due to grass pollens, dust mites, and pets. This slight increase is due to the delay in flowering. For some time now, pollen has been appearing earlier and the season is getting longer. In addition, air pollution modifies the structure of pollen, which makes them more allergenic.
– Has the COVID-19 pandemic promoted respiratory allergies?
The pandemic has had no effect on the spread of allergies. During the first lockdown in 2020, there was an increase in symptoms, as roadside grass pollens were not harvested and temperatures were high.
The allergy community has noticed an increase in cross allergies. but what is it?
Cross allergy occurs due to the presence of similar or similar structures in different substances such as pollen, food or animal hair.
Most often occur between numallergens, i.e. a substance in suspension in the air such as pollen, between trophallergens, that is, a substance in food, or between numallergens and trophallergens. For example, a person allergic to dust mites may also be allergic to snails, or a patient allergic to birch pollen is more likely to be allergic to raw apples or pears.
In general, adults who are allergic to pollen do not immediately realize that they are allergic to particular foods. They go to an allergist for pollen allergies. The doctor will get them tested and ask questions about their consumption of certain foods. Another possible case: People notice that their tongue is itchy or their lips are swollen after eating a fruit or vegetable. During the consultation, the specialist will try to understand whether in the same period each year, the patient is suffering from rhinoconjunctivitis and will confirm that he is suffering from cross-allergy.
– At present, which technologies can effectively manage respiratory allergies and improve patients’ daily lives?
In the event of respiratory allergies, initially, it is advisable to limit contact with the allergen. Avoidance, depending on the allergen responsible, not sleeping with pets, bathing your cat for at least 24 hours to reduce the presence of the allergen, using a featherless pillow, non-fleece mattress and electrostatic clothing is included. Other recommendations: don’t play sports when the weather is nice and windy, wash your hair in the evening, ventilate your home early in the morning and late in the evening outside the peaks of pollution.
Medical treatment of respiratory allergies is based on taking antihistamines, using nasal eye drops and local corticosteroids. Allergic rhinitis can also be treated with sublingual desensitization in the form of drops or tablets, aimed at making the patient tolerant to the allergen. People with dust mite allergies should follow this treatment every day for three to five years, and people with grass pollen allergies use this method for five years before and during pollen season.
– What’s the latest news on allergy treatment?
It is now possible to use monoclonal antibodies by injection to fight severe allergic asthma. The use of this treatment has recently been extended to treat chronic urticaria, including cold urticaria. These occur on areas of the skin exposed to cold through direct contact with cold substances or cold drafts or cold water.
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