Spring’s allergy season - the heat is on

Interview

Allergy season is here again, with symptoms that are unfortunately familiar to many adults and children. But some people don't understand why their eyes start to itch, their noses start to run, why they cough and what might be irritating their throats.

Some allergens have year-round effects, others are seasonal. Hazelnut and alder trees start producing pollen as early as February, followed by willow, sycamore, and grass pollen (Poaceae). "It’s safe to say that the heat is on,” says Prof. Dr. László Barkai, Dr. Rose Private Hospital’s pediatrician, pediatric pulmonologist, and diabetologist, who is also a university professor and doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Here he informs us about childhood allergies and treatment options.

Experienced patients are not caught off guard by the spring allergy onslaught, and most of them are well prepared for the difficult times ahead. Many people visit their doctor and seek preventive treatment at this time of year. If you know exactly what you are allergic to, you can be prescribed the right medication so that you have the right medicine on hand when symptoms appear. However, in many cases, in addition to their medication patients also need to adapt their lifestyle to the changed circumstances.

Of course, there will also be those who are encountering allergies for the first time this year, including many children. In their case, it is up to their parents to be vigilant in recognizing the problem, as the symptoms can be wide-ranging. Prolonged cold symptoms, coughing and breathing difficulties, conjunctivitis, skin lesions and rashes can all be signs of allergy. Symptoms may also be present in the gastrointestinal tract in the form of abdominal discomfort, bloating, diarrhea and vomiting, especially in the case of food allergy.

It may help in the diagnosis that some allergic diseases have a specific onset at a particular age. In infancy, atopic dermatitis of the skin and food allergies are the most common, while asthma becomes more common in toddlers and schoolchildren. Hay fever usually occurs in adolescence, although in recent years its onset has shifted towards younger age groups. If detected early, symptoms can be well managed, and serious or life-threatening conditions can be avoided.

In extreme cases, an allergic reaction affecting the whole body - anaphylactic shock - can occur. In principle, this severe, life-threatening condition can only be triggered by certain allergens, and it does not matter how sensitive the person is to the allergen in question. For example, grass pollen is unlikely to cause anaphylactic shock, but bee or wasp stings can be life-threatening in a sensitive person.

A healthy, vitamin-rich diet can be helpful in preventing illness in general, but it has no specific effect in the case of allergies. The most effective way to fight allergies is to find out the cause of the allergy through an investigation. In this case, we try to avoid or remove the allergen from the patient's environment, but if this is not possible, we use medication to help the body to fight the allergy.

The other, scientifically recognized method is to introduce a very small dose of the allergen that is causing the allergy in the patient, and then gradually increase the dose to effectively ’calm down’ the allergy. There is no miracle cure for allergies, only a complex treatment strategy can defeat them.

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