'It will help to list allergy as a superspeciality' | Life | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
  • Minute to burn it
    July 13, 2013
    Bored by long workouts? Just seven fast and furious minutes can produce results.
  • Going Biblical
    July 13, 2013
    In Jordan, one finds places mentioned in the Bible.
  • Tribal travel
    July 13, 2013
    Ethically sensitive ethno-tourism ventures are benefiting tourists, tribals.
More in this Section
Profiles
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy
Allergy

'It will help to list allergy as a superspeciality'

|




About 20 to 30 per cent of people in India, especially children, suffer from allergic diseases. And it is predicted that about 50 per cent of all children in India will have some sort of allergy by 2050. Dr Ruby Pawankar, a professor of paediatrics and allergy at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, has taken on the task of improving allergy-care globally. This year she was appointed the president of the World Allergy Organisation - the first woman president in its 61-year-old history. In an interview with TOI-Crest, Pawankar talks about how allergy patients in India often go untreated or under-diagnosed due to lack of clinical specialty and the need to develop allergies as a medical superspeciality

How common have allergies become?


Allergies affect up to 30-40 per cent of the population worldwide, and the severity and complexity of allergic diseases, including asthma, continue to increase. This escalation in the prevalence of allergies is especially seen in children and young adults. Globally, 300 million people suffer from asthma, and approximately 200 to 250 million people suffer from food allergies. One tenth of the population suffers from drug allergies and 400 million from rhinitis. This dramatic increase is observed as societies become more affluent and urbanised, outdoor and indoor pollution increase, and lifestyle and dietary habits change. In Asia, the prevalence of allergic diseases varies widely but was found to have increased from 0. 8 to 29. 1 per cent for asthma and from 5 per cent to 45 per cent for allergic rhinitis. Time trends in the prevalence of asthma symptoms also showed different regional patterns. For example, while there's been a decrease in wheezing in children aged 13 to 14 years in Western Europe, it has increased in the same age group in the Asia-Pacific region.

What are Indians most allergic to?


In Asia, it is the house dust mite. In Europe and northern America, often, pollens. In Japan, Japanese cedar pollen is a major cause in addition to dust mite. Also different pollens from trees, grass and weeds. Food allergies in very small children in early life are usually due to cow's milk and egg. Other foods that can cause food allergies are shell fish like shrimps, prawns, lobsters and crabs, nuts, lentils, chickpeas, wheat etc.

Are scientists close to a cure for allergies?


Currently, there is no complete cure for allergy. What makes it more complicated is that there are different phenotypes that may respond differently to different treatments. But there are very good treatments available for asthma and rhinitis that can control these diseases. One of the disease modifying treatments that can potentially be very beneficial is immunotherapy which is also one of the topics which will be discussed in the upcoming WAO International Scientific Conference in Hyderabad in December.

Does India have enough doctors to treat allergies?


Despite the high prevalence of allergic diseases in the population, expert or specialist allergy treatment is very difficult to access in many countries, and there is a lack of appropriate training not only at the undergraduate level but also at the postgraduate level. In India, most of the time patients with allergic diseases are seen by organbased specialists such as respiratory physicians, ear, nose and throat specialists, ophthalmologists, dermatologists depending on the organ affected. But since one individual can have multiple allergies, it becomes tedious for the patient to consult the various specialists in the absence of one allergy expert. For example, allergic rhinitis, skin allergies, and asthma are three problems which may commonly manifest together, yet affect three different organ systems. Having the speciality of allergy, like other super specialities, can help address this issue and result in a more integrated, holistic approach to treatment.

What should the Indian government do to help the situation?


Training at undergraduate level will help medical professionals to understand and better treat allergic diseases at the primary care level. At super specialty level, there is a need to have allergy as a super specialty. We are already in dialogue with the health ministry in India and other countries that lack the specialty to institute that kind of training both at undergraduate level and as a separate field of specialty at the post graduate level. Besides, the World Allergy Organisation is also partnering with member organisations to help initiate various training schools to increase capacity building and to create better and awareness.

What are the misconceptions people have about allergies?


In many parts of the world, there is a lack of adequate education about, and awareness of, the morbidity and mortality associated with allergic diseases;allergic diseases are often trivialised and the chronic nature of these diseases is not well understood. Moreover, the importance of consulting a specialist early enough and early diagnosis and the need to continue adequate and appropriate treatment that can control the disease is not well understood.

Why is it necessary to recognise allergic diseases as a global public
health concern?

A steady increase in the prevalence of allergic diseases globally has occurred. A high proportion of this increase is occurring in young subjects (asthma in infancy often goes unrecognised and thus untreated ). Therefore, as this young population reaches adulthood, the burden of allergic diseases is expected to increase even more. Complex allergies involving polysensitisation and multiple organ involvement are increasing, with a high morbidity placing a higher demand on health care delivery services. The Global Initiative on Asthma estimates that approximately 2, 50, 000 persons die of asthma annually.

It is forecast that allergic problems will increase further as air pollution and the ambient temperature increase. These environmental changes will affect pollen counts, the presence or absence of stinging insects, and the presence or absence of moulds associated with allergic diseases. In many countries, attempts to tackle these problems on a national basis are widely variable and fragmented, resulting in decreased quality of life, increased morbidity and mortality, and considerable cost to patients with allergic diseases.

Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik | MensXP.com

Networking

itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Hotklix
Services
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service