Untreated severe allergy could affect quality of life, cause death, paediatrician warns

Untreated severe allergy could affect quality of life, cause death, paediatrician warns

Angela Onwuzoo <

A Consultant Paediatrician at the Department of Paediatric and Child Health, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja,

Dr. Olatunde Odusote has urged Nigerians to be mindful of their lifestyle and environment, adding that they should avoid things that could predispose them to the risk of severe allergy.

While noting that anybody can have an allergy, Dr. Odusote warned that severe allergy can kill and diminish the quality of life of an individual if left untreated.  

Dr. Odusote who is also Head, Division of Allergy, Dermatology and Pulmonary Medicine at the teaching hospital, disclosed this during an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise.

He stated that an unhealthy lifestyle, indiscriminate use of antibiotics, and exposure to chemicals and fumes predispose people to the risk of allergy. 

The paediatrician who is also an allergologist and dermatologist said it’s untrue that allergy is a Whiteman’s disease as viewed by a lot of Nigerians, urging those battling with it to seek help from experts.

Allergy, he said is a composite of diseases and makes the body fight what he described as an unnecessary war.

Giving insight into allergy, its predisposing factors and its impact on the quality of life of individuals affected, the allergologist explained, “Allergy is a spectrum. It is a group of diseases Basically, what allergy means is that your body is fighting an unnecessary battle.

“There is a part of your immune system that was originally designed to fight parasitic infections like worms and all that.

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“But for some reason, instead of using it to fight that war, it’s fighting an unnecessary war.

“It is like fighting a thing that is not necessary. So, because of that fight, there are expressions of diseases that come out of them and asthma is one of them.” 

Continuing, he said, “The other one is called hay fever. You can be allergic to food and the common food people are allergic to can start from cow’s milk, egg, peanut, crayfish, and preservatives in food. 

“Another group is drugs. There are some people who if they take certain drugs, can die from taking those drugs. There is also an allergy to the skin.

“There is a part of your body that is designed to fight parasitic infections but because they are redundant they are now fighting this battle. 

“But the thing is that a lot of Nigerians think that allergy is a Whiteman’s disease. It’s not true. It’s there. If people are exposed to the triggers, they will have the disease.” 

Dr. Odusote noted that allergy was driven by lifestyle and the way people live.

“Western lifestyle and urbanisation drive these things. Non-noncommunicable diseases like stroke and cancer are common, the same way allergic issues will continue because of our western lifestyle”, he added

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“Basically, allergy is going to be an issue with time because you can have that tendency but there must be a trigger from the environment that will make you have an expression of these diseases,” he said.

On its impact on the lives of those affected, the paediatrician said, “There are severe forms of allergy that can kill. It is called anaphylaxis. For example, if you are allergic to a drug, if they give you, within five minutes, the person is dead if the right things are done.

“I am sure you have heard of people dying from a peanut allergy and seafood allergy and all that. When they eat the food, within 30 minutes to one hour, they can be dead. 

“But there are other forms of allergy that will not kill you, for example, hay fever. Hay fever will not kill you but will make your life miserable. It’s on record that if you have hay fever, your sleep quality will be poor. You get to school you will be sleeping. 

According to the allergologist, a child that is doing very well before will start failing. 

“A person that has high performance at work because he doesn’t have a good sleep quality, will not perform well. So that is the two ends of the spectrum. 

“Hay fever can diminish the quality of life of an individual. Some allergies will not kill you but can make your life miserable. 

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“You are sleepy, tired, angry with everyone and not knowing that you have an allergy that has not been taken care of.

“Some allergic reactions can be embarrassing and the quality of life can be affected,” he explained.

Charting the way forward, Dr. Odusote urged Nigerians battling allergies to seek help from experts and eat properly.

He also stated that industrial waste and fumes should be minimised, adding that Nigerians should avoid smoking and junk foods.

In a 2022 study published by ScienceDaily, researchers said approximately one-third of the world’s population suffers from one or more allergies, with the trend increasing every year. 

“By far the most widespread form of allergy is the so-called type I allergy, also known as immediate-type allergy. This includes, for example, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic asthma, food allergies, or allergies against insect venoms, pollen, grasses, or house dust mites”, the researchers said.

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