LivingAllergies are coming: these are the main ones

Allergies are coming: these are the main ones

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by the year 2050 approximately half of the world’s population will suffer from at least one allergic disorder. During the last decade, the clinical manifestations of this type of disease have not changed. What has changed in an outstanding way is the knowledge of the allergens that produce them. Pollen, food proteins or animal epithelia are some of the main responsible for visits to the Allergology office.

Allergy is an excessive reaction of the body to a substance called an allergen or antigen, which is itself harmless, which affects individuals who are genetically susceptible or predisposed to such a reaction. Ultimately, their immune system generates inflammatory mechanisms in response.

Respiratory allergies

Respiratory allergies (asthma, rhinitis) continue to be the most prevalent among the population. Pollen is one of the main causative agents of these diseases. According to the Spanish Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (SEAIC), some eight million Spaniards are allergic to these grains produced by seed plants.

Climate change has a lot to do with this incidence. And it is that the allergy to pollen has been increasing due to the growth of native species for a longer time. As José Manuel Zubeldia, head of the Allergology Service at the Gregorio Marañón University Hospital, in Madrid, points out, “ the pollen periods have lengthened in time, so that the seasons overlap . A few years ago, the pollination season ran from January to March. Now, this period has been advanced to November or December, when the flowering of the arizónicas begins ”.

The phenomenon is repeated with grasses, which used to flower in May and now begin to do so in April. “ Also, weed pollens spread throughout the summer and fall until winter begins again. Therefore, we have symptomatic patients practically all year round, ”adds Dr. Zubeldia. This expansion of pollination periods is a consequence not only of the aforementioned climate change, but also of pollution. For example, the particles from diesel combustion present in the environment cause plants to develop defense proteins that are manifested in pollen. “In this way, the same trees or grass that grow in areas near highways and roads are going to produce a much more aggressive type of pollen than that of the plants that are in the middle of the field,” points out Dr. Zubeldia.


Food Allergy

Allergy to dietary proteins is also very common. The SEAIC estimates that some two million people in Spain suffer from this problem. However, advances in biomedicine have made it possible to discover more allergen-producing proteins, which makes it possible to better understand the profile of each patient. “We can personalize allergy medicine much more thanks to the new tools. Before, we had to avoid large food groups, but it is not really necessary ”, explains Javier Montoro Lacomba, deputy secretary-treasurer of the SEAIC.

This expert highlights that there is an element that is causing “a true epidemic.” These are lipid transfer proteins (LTP). “These and other profilins (proteins present in vegetables, pollen, latex and hymenoptera venom) generate a high number of food allergies. All those products that contain them in a high quantity will induce symptoms in allergic subjects. The LTP is the most important, and it is found mainly in the peach skin and its hybrids, such as apricot, Paraguayan and nectarine. But it is also present in hazelnuts, lettuce, pears or plums ”, concludes Dr. Montoro.


20% of the population in Spain has developed an allergy to the epithelia – the tissues or linings of organs, mucous membranes and glands – of some animals. It manifests itself as a basically respiratory disease caused by some of the proteins that come from the skin, saliva and urine of certain species of fauna. “The prevalence of this allergy has remained stable in the last decade. There was a peak of ascent six years ago, when it became fashionable to have gerbils – a type of rodents – in Madrid. But the allergy to the epithelium of dogs or cats is more frequent ”, details the specialist.


Regarding allergies to new drugs, the beta-lactam antibiotics –those containing penicillin and derivatives– should be highlighted, which are the most recurrent in the hospital environment to fight infections. It is considered that between 10% and 15% of patients who need them are allergic, so they have to receive an alternative treatment. ” The newest things we are facing in this field today are allergies that are appearing with the arrival of new drugs, such as the latest generation monoclonal antibodies and biological treatments, ” explains Dr. Zubeldia. But this expert remembers that an allergy should not be confused with the fact that a drug makes you feel bad at a specific moment.

By Sandra Pulido

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