Almost every third person in India is suffering from recurrent cough, cold, dry skin, hives, milk or wheat allergy, drug allergy or itchy, watery eyes, some of the many allergy types. The situation is even worse in children nowadays with asthma booming up, requiring immediate medical attention in the middle of the night, and leading to absenteeism from school.On talking about allergy treatment in India, Many doctors say that it is an allergy and has no permanent cure but hopefully, and it might subside with growing age. But is it really the truth?
The fact is that allergy is an abnormal and exaggerated response of the person?s immune system in the form of cough, sneeze, fever, cold, skin rashes etc. to normally harmless substances present in the environment to which we are not supposed to react otherwise. The commonest ones being airborne dust, pollen grains, fungal spores, animal dander, mites and other irritants in indoor air like smoke of perfumes, agarbatti etc. This inappropriate response results in different allergy types, including Asthma, Allergic Rhinitis, Allergic Conjunctivitis, Drug allergy, Food allergy, Insect allergy, Eczema, Urticaria, Angioedema and Anaphylaxis.
Respiratory allergies constitute about 25% of all visits to a general practitioner. Worldwide, prevalence rate of Asthma in children has been found to be 7- 15%, allergic rhinitis between 10% and 30 %, urticaria above 20%, food allergy between 6-9% of kids; adverse drug reactions may affect up to 10% of the world?s population and up to 20% of all hospitalized patients. In different Indian studies, it was found that 38% of Dermatology OPD cases were Atopic Dermatitis in infants, Cow?s Milk Protein Allergy prevalence is 2-7.5%, food allergies 16.48% and Ocular allergies 15-25% in the Indian population.
The situation was not the same 30 years before but due to rapid industrialization, changing food and lifestyles and rampant use of fossil fuels, the allergies are on a rise in the whole world, and the allergy symptoms are more and more visible. There are several reports from Europe and USA that climate change (global warming) increases the duration and concentration of pollens in the air because of early flowering and late finish during the season. Increased carbon dioxide enhances the growth of plants and productivity of pollens. Sensitization to food like banana, citrus fruits, black gram, sea food etc., as high as 15%, is significantly associated with Asthma. Think of a situation when these sensitized individuals start manifesting food allergy symptoms, it would be no less than a catastrophe occurring in the society with sudden deaths in children with food induced anaphylaxis.
With the advent of new standardized tests and tools, the quest for allergy treatment in India has now found new horizons, and we?ve been successful in finding out the allergen and curing the patient completely. Therefore, fighting with them may demand proper evaluation, pharmacotherapy and immunotherapy; our allergy treatment shows very promising results, and rarely is there any change of lifestyle or even profession during or post the treatment.
Dr Swati Gupta
Consultant, Paediatrics and Allergy Clinic