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World Allergy Week is a global campaign of the World Allergy Organisation (WAO), which aims to raise awareness on the impact of allergic diseases in our communities.

The theme for World Allergy Week 2022 (5th to 11th of June) is: BREATHE BETTER: THE ASTHMA AND ALLERGY CONNECTION.

The various allergy related diseases include but not limited to
*allergic asthma*
*allergic rhinitis*
*atopic dermatitis*
*allergic conjunctivitis*
*food allergies*

Asthma and allergy share a similar and very close course, especially through childhood.
Asthma is a chronic pulmonary inflammatory disease wherein the immune systems cooperate with the cells of the airway to cause airway hyperresponsiveness, mucus overproduction, airway wall remodeling, and tightening leading to symptoms of wheezing, breathlessness, and chest tightness.
It affects more than 300 million people worldwide.
Asthma is seen as an allergic disease; this assertion is well documented,

Different variants of asthma Exists including
-Early onset
-Late onset
-Adult onset non allergic asthma of the elderly (in the elderly >65years)
-Obesity related asthma
-Non eosinophilic asthma
-Smoking associated asthma

Of all the above groups, the most common related to allergy is the early onset type.

The symptoms that go along with allergic asthma show up after allergens (or allergy triggers) like pollen, dust mites, or mold are inhaled.

When the body meets an allergen, it makes chemicals called IgE antibodies. They cause the release of chemicals like histamine, which cause swelling and inflammation.

In allergic asthma, the airways become extra sensitive to certain allergens. Once they get into the body, the immune system overreacts resulting in The chest tightness, inflamed airway and over time thick mucus flooding the airway.

Some common triggers include
-Windblown pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds
-Mold spores and fragments
-Animal dander (from hair, skin, or feathers) and saliva
-Dust mite feces
-Cockroach feces

Different patients can have differing disease severities, so treatment response can also vary greatly, e.g., in allergic asthma response to medication can be influenced by both the degree of allergic reactivity and allergen exposure, and their complex interactions.

Some of these Allergic/atopic symptoms are
*Skin- Hives, welts, scaling or other signs of skin irritation.
*Eyes- Itching of the eyes, redness of the eyes.
*Nose- Nasal congestion,itching of the nose, rhinorrhea (cattarh)
*Sinus pain and/or swelling/ headache
*Sneezing

Associated with the symptoms of asthma- chest tightness, wheezing, cough, difficulty breathing

So the first step is to identify the triggers and avoid them to prevent frequent exacerbations.

Be regular with medications

SEEK SPECIALIST CARE (Asthma Care team)- some investigation to identify various triggers can be done including
*Skin prick test
*Blood IgE level, among others.

Treating asthma and upper airway allergies together helps improve both problems

Specific treatment options and patient education tools are also available, all with the aim of achieving a good life.

Early diagnosis and prompt care saves lives!!!

 

Dr Hart-Omoaghe Ibifiri

SR Pulmonology

Internal Medicine UBTH


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