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Original Article


Allergy, Living and Learning: Diagnosis and Treatment of Allergic Respiratory Diseases in Europe


T Chivato,1 E Valovirta,2,3 R Dahl,4 J de Monchy,5 A Bloch Thomsen,6 S Palkonen,7 L Jacobsen8

1Facultad de Medicina Universidad CEU San Pablo, & Hospital Madrid (Grupo HM) Madrid, Spain
2Terveystalo Turku Allergy Clinic, Turku, Finland
3Department of Clinical Allergology, University of Turku, Finland
4Department of Respiratory Diseases, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark
5Department of Allergy, Universitair Medisch Centrum Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
6Formerly: ALK-Abelló, Hørsholm, Denmark (Currently: Novo Nordisk A/S, Søborg, Denmark)
7European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations, Brussels, Belgium
8Research Centre for Prevention and Health, Glostrup University Hospital, Glostrup, Denmark; ALC, Copenhagen, Denmark

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2012; Vol. 22(3): 168-179



Background: Allergy Living and Learning (ALL) is a European initiative designed to increase knowledge and understanding of people living with allergies in order to improve respiratory allergy care.

Objectives: To investigate diagnostic and treatment patterns associated with respiratory allergies, patients’ perception of their treatment, and restrictions on daily activities.

Methods: Using a telephone-based randomized screening method, we recruited and analyzed 7004 patients (aged 16-60 years) with self-reported respiratory allergic disease from 10 European countries. Patients answered questions assessing their knowledge, experience, and perception of their condition and its treatment. Data analyses were descriptive.

Results: The most prevalent conditions were allergic rhinitis (66%) and asthma (26%), and the average duration of the symptoms of respiratory allergy was 14.5 years. Over 30% of patients had never had a specific diagnostic test. About 80% of patients used medication for their respiratory allergy, and 10% of those not receiving treatment had severe symptoms. One-third of patients were not satisfied with their treatment, and two-thirds experienced restrictions in daily activities. Medication was most commonly taken in the form of tablets and nasal spray. Allergy-specific immunotherapy was received by 16% of patients. Knowledge of specific immunotherapy was low overall and varied widely by country: 30% of patients (country range, 10%-52%) had never heard of this treatment option.

Conclusions: A notable proportion of individuals with respiratory allergy in Europe are underdiagnosed, undertreated, and dissatisfied with their treatment. Addressing these shortcomings may help to optimize respiratory allergy care and, ultimately, quality of life.

Key words: Allergy diagnosis. Allergic rhinitis. Asthma. Pharmacological treatment. Allergy medication. Allergy-specific immunotherapy.