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This paper focuses on the interview conducted with a person suffering from an allergy. The aim of such a conversation is to explore patient experience and contribute to disease awareness of health care providers. First, the topic of allergy was introduced based on scholarly sources and available data. Second, the method of the interview was identified, and the key points of this process were determined. The following section of results includes information presented by the interview and involves her experience regarding the course of the disease, its occurrence and treatment, and the limitations it set on her life. Ultimately, discussion synthesizes patient experience and data revealed from the literature to identify essential insights. It is concluded that the patient perspective is rather important in understanding his or her health condition and providing the relevant treatment.
Allergy is a complex of reactions to the pollen of plants, woolen of animals, some foods, etc. The disease is manifested by rhinitis, conjunctivitis, dermatitis, and asthmatic bronchitis of an allergic nature. It is characterized by swelling of the mucous membranes of the nose and eyes, nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, suffocation, itching, and skin rashes. Without proper treatment, allergy has a progressive nature and can even transform into bronchial asthma. It can be called one of the most common diseases all over the globe. This seasonal disease occurs in approximately 15 percent of the population (Adkinson et al., 2014). In addition, patients with allergy often have a cross-allergy: along with pollen, the cause of the allergy can be food allergens. For example, with an allergy to birch pollen, there will be a cross-allergy to apples, carrots, and peaches. The disease occurs against the background of the increased sensitivity of the immune system to allergens. For instance, there are more than a hundred weeds and cultivated plants, the pollen of which can cause hay fever.
The study of the patient experience with an allergy is based on the interview with Mrs. Wilson aged 56. Being a friend of the researcher’s family, she was invited to tell about her disease voluntarily. The interview list was prepared in advance and composed 15 questions. It was important to provide the interviewee with this list before the conversation so that she had some time to ponder over the questions and then provide full answers. The day and place for the interview were chosen to ensure comfortable conditions for Mrs. Wilson. The process of the interview, namely, one hour was recorded to keep the main ideas and reflect on them in the discussion. No deception of any kind was used during the conversation. No personal data or artifacts were collected from the respondent in terms of securing confidentiality. After the interview, audio records were properly analyzed and interpreted based on scholarly sources.
In writing the research results, it seems useful to stay close to the words used by the interview to reveal her experience. Answering several questions regarding her disease occurrence and diagnosis, Mrs. Wilson stated that she suffers from allergic rhinitis to dogs, pollen, and dust as well as citruses from her childhood. She was diagnosed with allergy and offered traditional treatment, the main idea of which was to avoid allergens. Nevertheless, her reactions to the mentioned factors became more severe with time. After a choking attack a couple of years ago, Mrs. Wilson was hospitalized and diagnosed with allergic bronchitis. Since that period, she lives with some barriers that interfere with her daily life and limit it (K. Wilson, personal communication, September 29, 2017). For example, it was revealed that she has to take antihistamines and bronchodilators to facilitate her health condition and cope with allergy attacks.
Mrs. Wilson was also asked to reveal her views on the prevention of allergies. To prevent household allergies, she cleans up more often, avoiding some aggressive detergents and cleaners. The patient tries not to abuse fluffy blankets and long-lasting carpets. If pollen allergy occurs, she tries to go outside after two o’clock in the afternoon, when the activity of pollen ejection fades. Mrs. Wilson was also recommended to do adequate physical exercises and avoid stress. Namely, the patient visits a gym twice a week and exercises in a special group for people suffering from similar diseases.
Speaking of the treatment of allergy, the interviewee stated that it is necessary to minimize contacts with the allergen. Mrs. Wilson stated that she trusts her physician and family nurse, fully relying on their experience. She was advised to decrease the time spent on the street, especially in dry and windy weather, exclude certain foods from the diet that may cause allergy. The most effective means in the combat against this disease is allergen-specific immunotherapy. The treatment regimen provides the introduction of increasing doses of an allergen into the patient’s body (K. Wilson, personal communication, September 29, 2017). As a result of such treatment, the sensitivity of the patient’s body to the allergen was reduced. Specific immunotherapy can be carried out simultaneously with taking medications. Mrs. Wilson clearly stated that the last intervention was the most effective one. After three courses of such treatment, she felt that the symptoms became less severe.
In recent decades, there has been a marked increase in the incidence of allergies. There are various theories explaining this phenomenon. According to the theory of the influence of hygiene, strict compliance with cleanliness rules deprives one’s body of contact with many antigens, which causes a weak development of the immune system (Adkinson et al., 2014). More to the point, plenty of chemical products can act as allergens and create the prerequisites for the development of an allergic reaction by disrupting the function of the nervous system and endocrine system. The case of Mrs. Wilson shows that her respiratory allergy manifests after exposure to the allergen in the body during breathing. These allergens are different types of gases, pollen, or dust.
Consistent with Silva et al. (2014), the patient experience illustrates the importance of prevention. Physical exercising and stress avoidance are used to strengthen the body and increase its resistance to allergy and its exacerbations. However, if moderate physical activity contributes to health, intensive training, on the contrary, can have a negative effect. Fatigue is also unfavorable. Patients with an allergy should try to avoid nervous breakdowns as severe experiences can strengthen the existing allergic disease or even cause a new, in particular, bronchial asthma and certain types of skin lesions (Silva et al., 2014). In this connection, the interview enlightens the role of allergy prevention and potential ways to implement in one’s life.
As for treatment experience identified by Mrs. Wilson, it provides insight on the effectiveness of several options, the most useful of which was immunotherapy. Indeed, immunity defenses the body, namely, its resistance to various infections or foreign substances. As noted by Adkinson et al. (2014), it creates resistance to the effects of bacteria, viruses, or toxins due to the system of adaptations and reactions, some of which are inherited, and others are acquired in the course of life. The main principle of allergen-specific immunotherapy is the deliberate introduction into the body of an allergen, to which a person reacts. If usually, a person encounters a causal allergen uncontrollably, immunotherapy provides a clear schedule of attending an allergist and contacting with allergens strictly in therapeutic dosage.
It is also important to point to the nature of relationships between the patient and her care team. As it is seen from the interview, the patient is satisfied with the services and the approach selected by them. She clearly understands her disease and follows the recommendations provided by the experts that allow her to cope with allergy symptoms. It becomes evident that the quality of care is rather critical for the patient and her health outcomes. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that patient-caregiver collaboration is one of the most important conditions of the effective treatment that is consistent with Adkinson et al. (2014). The findings of this interview are likely to contribute to the increase in allergy understanding in adults. Focusing on patients’ experience, caregivers will better comprehend their needs and expectations, thus providing the most appropriate care possible. As it was mentioned by the interviewee, she had to change a number of allergists before finding the one who could understand her needs and choose the treatment that helped. To avoid such a pursuit, it is essential to apply the method of interviewing in identifying patients’ health problems.
Adkinson, N. F., Bochner, B. S., Burks, A. W., Busse, W. W., Holgate, S. T., Lemanske, R. F., & O’Hehir, R. E. (2014). Middleton’s allergy: Principles and Practice (8th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Silva, D., Geromi, M., Halken, S., Host, A., Panesar, S. S., Muraro, A.,… Dubois, A. E. J. (2014). Primary prevention of food allergy in children and adults: Systematic review. Allergy, 69(5), 581-589.
Wilson, K. (personal communication, 2017).