Allergy; An (Un)awarened, (Under)diagnosed and (Under)treated Disease?

İlkay Koca Kalkan
Ayşe Füsun Kalpaklıoğlu
Aysu Dağlıoğlu
Muhammed Fevzi Kılınçkaya

Abstract

Objective: Allergy is a growing health problem that greatly impacts daily life. Despite its high prevalence, the perception isn’t intense. Our aim was to assess the knowledge among an heterogenous population of Turkey about what is allergy and what is not, and to determine by whom those symptoms should be cared.

Materials and Methods: During our university’s spring fest, the awareness about allergy was determined by a questionnaire, consisting of 18 multiple- choice questions.

Results: A total of 505 participants (211 female/ 294 male), aged between 16-62 years (mean 26.65 ± 9.77), were enrolled. Sixty percent were students, and 40% were employees from different branches. Among the 19 symptoms evaluated, nasal complaints were the most (95.3%), while as food reactions were the least one (45%), that were recognized as related with allergy by the participants. Global awareness of allergy was not correlated with increased education level, but the awareness of respiratory, nasal and dermatologic symptoms were significantly higher in healthcare workers/students (p< 0.05). Of 439 participants with symptoms, who were complaining of impairment in daily activities, sleep problems, lack of school/work attendance of varying degrees, 25.5% had a doctor diagnosed allergic disease, most commonly rhinitis (7.9%) followed by asthma (5%). Of those with skin tested (18.1%), 28.3% was performed by an allergy specialist, 44.9% was found to be positive, but only 18.2% was prescribed an allergy medication. In case of suffering from allergic conditions, while as one third of the general population preferred to be cared by an allergologist, this was found to be significantly higher (49.1%) in a subgroup consisted of healthcare workers/students (p= 0.016).

Conclusion: Increasing the awareness of allergic symptoms is the key not only for the diagnosis, but also for the optimal treatment of the disease. Therefore, continous/repetative education of medical staff is an important component of outreach for the prevention and control of allergen-induced diseases.

Keywords

Allergy, education, awareness, conscious
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