Allergies are ranked as the fourth most chronic disease in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Dr. Catherine Quéquet, allergist and author of the book The new allergies. How to recognize them? How to fight them? (editions du Rocher), recalls the good reflexes to adopt.
Are allergies a scourge?
Yes, almost a third of the French population is affected by allergies today. According to forecasts, half of the French should be affected by 2050.
Allergies can combine…
Allergists see more and more poly-allergic patients. Faced with a person who has allergic rhinitis, you must ask if they have respiratory symptoms (shortness of breath, cough, etc.). People don’t necessarily pay attention to it. However, it is necessary to consult quickly to prevent rhinitis from causing the onset of allergic asthma.
There are also cross allergies…
In this case, the two proteins causing the allergy are so close that the body goes into overdrive without knowing the difference. This is the case for apples and birch pollen, latex and bananas, peanuts and lentils (in progress) or dust mites and grasshoppers (to be tasted). These cross or associated allergies are not always easy to identify.
Have contributing factors been identified?
They are due to our way of life: an environment that is too sanitized, an increasingly industrial diet, new exotic foods, household chemicals (essential oils, scented cleaning products, etc.), chipboard furniture or even outdoor pollution.
What are the telltale signs of an allergy?
For example, there is a runny, itchy or clogged nose, sneezing and conjunctivitis (swollen and red eyes), more or less seasonal, depending on whether it is home allergens or pollen. With food allergies, this can take the form of pruritus, local or generalized, and go as far as anaphylactic shock, which is more and more frequent.
Is early identification an asset?
Yes, because it allows you to put in place preventive measures, such as being vigilant when renting a holiday home, if you are allergic to dust mites. This also reassures families: when one of the children has a food allergy, there is no need to deprive all the siblings of the food in question! This is the subject of my book, to inform to promote good reflexes, without dramatizing. Allergy is not a fad, it can really alter the quality of life.
In case of doubt, it is better to consult an allergist?
This can be interesting, especially for children who can be offered food tolerance induction, after which they can eat the food again without any problem. And before desensitization (or specific immunotherapy), two elements must be met: identification of the respiratory allergen via skin tests and a concordant clinical history.
“A five-year plan to fight against allergies”
This is the title of “white paper” of the Allergy Collective which brings together seven associations committed to the prevention of allergies and which, through this publication, intends to raise awareness among political authorities of a major public health problem, namely the rise of what it calls “a silent epidemic”.
At least 30% of the French population is affected by allergy. However, a child whose one parent is allergic has a 30% increased risk of developing an allergy – 80% if both parents are allergic. The signatory associations made their proposals for the next five years (2022-2027) public on February 24.
“Our proposals aim to strengthen the coordination of care throughout the country, thanks to better use of digital tools, and to consolidate information for the general public, particularly in schools and in the workplace, because allergy remains a poorly known and trivialized, argues Christine Rolland, director of the Asthma & Allergies association.
If the collective calls for a paradigm shift, by mobilizing to promote prevention, this plan also aims to “communicate on the new treatment protocols that exist so that patients benefit from care that meets their needs, such as allergic immunotherapy, which should be promoted”, adds, for her part, Pascale Couratier, director of the French Association for the Prevention of Allergy (AFPRAL).