Immune system: Leading expert: “Allergies are underestimated”

You've probably heard this before: "Oh, those with their allergies, they shouldn't act like that!" I could now answer: "I'm allergic to that!" But this expression also suggests that an illness is being trivialized here.

Immune system: Leading expert: “Allergies are underestimated”

You've probably heard this before: "Oh, those with their allergies, they shouldn't act like that!" I could now answer: "I'm allergic to that!" But this expression also suggests that an illness is being trivialized here. The impact of allergies on people is generally underestimated. Maybe because so many people have allergies, roughly one in four. And then the runny nose, three weeks into the birch blossom season, is lumped together with severe, life-threatening allergies, which also exist: to certain foods, medications or insect bites. Such a dangerous allergy, which can manifest itself in an allergic shock, usually presents itself with minor symptoms.

Allergic shock is one of your specialist areas. It has even been my research hobby for around 15 years. Especially because I was tired of this trivialization of allergies. The core of the research is the "Anaphylaxis Register", which now compiles data from 15,000 people worldwide who have suffered such a shock.

What happens? It is typical that different organs are affected at the same time. There are a variety of allergy symptoms that occur together with shock: hives, rash, itching on the skin. Itching, tingling and burning in the eyes, nose, mouth and throat. The nose is flowing. The airways narrow and shortness of breath occurs. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are also included. Ultimately, the shock leads to respiratory and cardiac arrest. Death registers list allergy shock as the cause of death up to 150 times a year. However, I assume that the number of unreported cases could be ten times higher because the shock is not always recognized due to its somewhat diffuse appearance. When a person just falls down like that, you tend to think about your heart.

What did you find out in your survey? That the triggers depend on age: for children, food comes first, for adults it is insect bites. Children are more likely to react with their respiratory tract; in adults, the circulatory system is most often disturbed.

For those at risk, there are “pens” – syringe pens with life-saving adrenaline. Should every allergy sufferer have one of these? That would be a bit exaggerated. Good information is more important: If you are an allergy sufferer and have ever had a reaction involving the circulatory or respiratory tract, you should definitely have an allergology practice clarify whether you need such an emergency kit. In the vast majority of cases, severe shocks had a more benign history.

Allergies are becoming more common, they say. If it's true - why is that?

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