Spring allergies – is it time for prevention?

Flowering trees, plowed gardens and flower gardens – all that creates mood, but not those who associate spring months with seasonal allergies.
The allergic reaction is a consequence of the increased reactivity of the immune system to various environmental stimuli (allergens) that do not normally cause the body to react.

The main symptoms that characterize the clinical picture are sneezing – bouncing and repeatedly; a runny nose characterized by clear secretion, irritation and pruritus in the nose; red and puffy eyes, with dark circles beneath them – allergic conjunctivitis; it may be a feeling of dyspnea and dry cough. The nose is clogged, there is reduced or absent smell, there is irritation on the palate and even in the ear canal. Symptoms are similar regardless of the type of allergen.

The main differences between allergic rhinitis and colds are that allergic rhinitis has pronounced pruritus without an increase in body temperature.

Most common are children and adolescents, with the peak between 9 and 20 years of age , predominantly male. People living in larger cities are more likely to suffer, due to increased air pollution with sulfur and nitrogen dioxide. They directly damage the mucosa of the respiratory tract and thus contribute to an easier penetration of allergens through it. The natural response of the body is to increase the secretion of fluid from the respiratory mucous membrane to quickly and easily remove the inhaled allergens.

The diagnosis is made after a detailed history of withdrawal – when symptoms appear, whether it is associated with a particular allergen, has a family history, and others. Objective studies are skin-allergic specimens that aim to establish an increased reactivity of the body in contact with allergens. Thus a specific etiological allergen is defined.

Additionally, the presence of specific IgE class antibodies that are formed after a first encounter with the allergen is sought and , in the latter case, leads to a rapid development of the symptoms. If necessary, nasal inhalation – a challenge test by inhalation of the suspected allergen – is attempted to provoke a reaction from the body.

The increased allergic “attitude” of the body needs to be consistent with established prophylactic measures. Modulation of immunity to control the allergic attitude and reduce the severity of allergic reactions are the main goals of prophylactic therapy.

To this end, two to three weeks before the expected occurrence of the symptoms, anti-allergic therapy is initiated – most often with antihistamines to suppress the body’s allergic attitudes and prevent the onset of symptoms.

Antihistamines are administered orally, preferring those of the second and third generation due to one of the side effects of the first generation to lead to drowsiness. Typically one tablet per day.

Regardless of the good results of antihistamines, they are only symptomatic medications that are unrelated to eradicating the problem. More and more is the so-called allergen immunotherapy or desensitization. It consists of the application of gradually increasing doses of allergenic extracts (for example in the form of drops dropping under the tongue). In response, the body’s immune system alters the production of proteins, which reduces the immune system’s reactivity and inflammation.

Typically, this type of therapy takes place within a few years – usually three to five. Good response and sustained retention of the results with greatly reduced sensitivity to relevant allergens are reported.

Allergic rhinitis is not a disease that endangers patients’ lives but greatly disturbs comfort and quality of life. When not treated adequately can lead to complications. Allergic inflammation may also affect the lower respiratory tract and lead to the development of bronchial asthma. Patients with allergic rhinitis have a three times higher risk of developing bronchial asthma.

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