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Pollen allergy and health behavior: patients trivializing their disease

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Allergies are increasing in prevalence worldwide, with socioeconomic impacts and effects on quality of life. The aim of this study was to explore the health behavior and the utilization of different treatment options via questionnaires and to investigate for relationships of the above with socioeconomic factors. This cross-sectional survey was carried out among pollen allergic subjects in 2016, using questionnaires. A total of 679 allergics participated in the study (61.2% females). Their average age was 26.8 ± 8.8 years. Their symptom severity was 6.1 ± 1.9, measured on a 10-step scale and symptoms lasted for 9.0 ± 6.8 weeks during pollen season. Of all allergics, 9.1% were not aware of the causative agent of their allergy and 17.4% had never undergone allergy testing. Symptoms, especially in females, had strong impact on social life, everyday routines and sleep quality. Almost half of the participants treated their allergy without medical supervision, while only 32.3% sought medical support. Nevertheless, three quarters reported self-management of their allergies with oral antihistamines. Compared to males, females sought significantly more medical support, medications and allergen avoidance strategies. Knowledge about allergy increased the likelihood of treatment under supervision of a medical expert than no treatment, as well as symptom severity and interaction between female gender and symptom severity. The attitude of not considering allergy as a serious disease significantly reduced the likelihood of undergoing specific immunotherapy. This survey not only highlights the negative impact of pollen allergies on everyday life of allergics, but also that allergies are often neglected and untreated because of their trivialization by allergic subjects themselves.

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The datasets used/analyzed during the current study will be available upon request.


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Correspondence to Athanasios Damialis.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Human and animal rights statement

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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No clinical study was conducted, or biosamples have been used in this survey. All used personal data were ensured to remain anonymized. The University of Augsburg has accepted the lack of need for such ethical approval.

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Muzalyova, A., Brunner, J.O., Traidl-Hoffmann, C. et al. Pollen allergy and health behavior: patients trivializing their disease. Aerobiologia 35, 327–341 (2019).

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