Respiratory allergy

People with allergic rhinitis are three times more likely to develop asthma than other people1.

People who are sensitised to aeroallergens develop allergic rhinitis with symptoms such as a runny nose, itching, watery eyes, respiratory congestion and fatigue. The most common aeroallergens include house dust mites, pollen, mould and pet dander. Respiratory allergies can be seasonal or perennial.

An often-underestimated consequence of allergic rhinitis is that it also puts people at a greater risk of developing asthma. People with allergic rhinitis are three times more likely to develop asthma than other people, and the risk for patients with house dust mite-induced allergic rhinitis is about six times higher than those whose allergic rhinitis is caused by grass pollen1

The rise in respiratory allergies can be explained by a variety of factors such as improved hygiene and lifestyle changes. The changes our environment is undergoing also contribute to the increase of allergies. Global warming is leading to longer pollination periods, increasing the amount of pollen in the air and higher allergenic potency. Atmospheric pollution, particularly ozone and diesel particles, is also thought to play a role in the increased frequency of pollen allergies2.

Due to the high prevalence and broad spectrum of severity of respiratory allergies, and cost variations between countries, the global economic burden is difficult to estimate. Overall, these diseases have a serious impact on quality of life, direct costs and indirect costs notably associated with loss of work productivity3.

 

Symptoms

Potential allergy symptoms in humans cover a variety of symptoms which can range from mild to severe. Symptoms vary from one person to another and according to the allergy. If left untreated allergy symptoms can worsen over time.

Symptoms include:

  • Psychological symptoms: fatigue, irritability, poor sleep, negative effect on concentration and performance.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis with itchy, red and watery eyes.
  • Allergic asthma with dry cough and shortness of breath.
  • Skin or digestive discomfort.
  • Wheezing.
  • Constricted airways in the lungs.
  • Severe lowering of blood pressure and shock.
  • Allergic rhinitis with sneezing and blocked or runny nose. Swelling and itching in the oral area.
  • Suffocation by swelling of the throat and larynx.

Anaphylaxis a potentially life-threatening reaction that can impair breathing and send the body into shock.

 

1. World Allergy Organization. 'White Book on Allergy Update 2013
2. Allergie.Un dérèglement du système immunitaire de plus en plus fréquent. https://www.inserm.fr/dossier/allergies/ Last accessed February 2024
3. Dierick et al. Burden and socioeconomics of asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis and food allergy. Expert Rev Pharmacoecon Outcomes Res. 2020 Oct;20(5):437-453.
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