In the National Health System, the patient can choose to visit a specialised department by personal choice. However, as choosing the appropriate specialisation for each case is not an easy task and requires an understanding of the symptoms and the pathology, ideally, the direction should be given by a general practitioner or paediatrician. In the Unit of Allergy and Clinical Immunology of the 2nd Pediatric Clinic of the University of Athens, at the P&A Kyriakou Children's Hospital, we evaluate children and adolescents (up to 14 years of age) who come to us in the following ways:

  1. 1. If the pediatrician has suspected an allergic disease that requires special evaluation. The referral may be in the form of a plea to parents or prior contact with the Unit. In some cases you may also have positive allergy test results that require interpretation by a specialist. In both of these cases, the possibility of allergic disease is significant, so an allergy evaluation and specialist management would be helpful.
  2. 2. Another large category is children who develop symptoms when they come into contact with a known allergen, such as a particular food, medicine or pet. In general, the likelihood of allergy is increased when symptoms appear immediately or in the first 1-2 hours after contact with the allergen. Such symptoms could be various rashes or swelling of the skin, coughing or difficulty breathing, reddening of the eyes and runny nose, and even vomiting or abdominal pain. If, for example, your child breaks out in a rash every time he eats lentils, or if he sneezes when approaching grandma's dog, allergy assessment is warranted. The same applies if the child displays, for example, swelling of the lips when blowing up rubber balloons or vomiting with dizziness after being stung by a bee. It is also important to keep in mind that some allergens, especially environmental allergens, are not easily identifiable. However, an allergic child may have symptoms that are seasonal, i.e. at a certain time of the year: for example, coughing and stinging eyes every spring. Then, again, it is good to investigate whether these symptoms mask sensitivity to an 'invisible' allergen, such as various pollen, fungi or dust particles.
  3. 3. A significant number of children, especially in pre-school and early school age, experience asthma symptoms (persistent coughing, breathlessness, wheezing or 'boiling') during the period of viral infections. On these children too, an allergological assessment can determine the likely prognosis of the condition and guide on treatment.
  4. 4. Children - especially infants - with eczema (atopic dermatitis). As this common condition almost classically precedes other allergic conditions, there is much that can be done at a preventive level: informed parents can be the best allies in the prevention of allergic diseases.

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World Allergy Week 2023

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