Italians are a hypochondriac people. Men and women – not only elderly people – who think they are sick, while being healthy as a trout. It takes very little to trigger psychosis: an ache, a scab under the armpit or in the groin, some blood on the gums and we are sized by panic. Doctors, surgeries, and analyses. Physicians who are frantically trying to say that everything is fine without managing to convince the patients, who, in their turn, continue to look for answers on Google or to make tests at home. An exemplary case is the one concerning allergies. In the Beautiful Country there are more than 2 million certified cases of which at least 600 thousand among children, while those intolerant to lactose, nickel or other substances are about 10 million. Others, more or less 8 million, are all in good health, but because of the results of the fake do-it-yourself tests, they get convinced that they cannot eat certain foods. And do not live well.
According to a study conducted by the Italian Society of allergology, asthma and clinical immunology (SIAAIC), many Italians spend considerable amounts of money on self-testing with no scientific groundings, and whose credibility, therefore, is equal to that of a heads or tails. A slap in the face of true medicine. “3-4 million unnecessary exams are performed every year in order to diagnose hypothetical intolerances and allergies, on which are wasted at least 300 million euros – writes the SIAAIC. The use of hair or muscular strength tests, that do not have any scientific basis, are growing at a rate of 10% per year and runs the risk of undermining the identification of the real patients.” To limit this phenomenon and indicate what to do if you suspect of an allergy, on the occasion of Milan Expo 2015 have been presented the first guidelines for the diagnostic interpretation of the validated tests. Those guidelines are destined to professionals and are about to be published in “Clinical Molecular Allergy”. By banning the most “creative” tests, the SIAAIC has offered to the citizens a new guide, useful for understanding how to recognize real hypersensitivity and not to fall into the costly pitfalls of unnecessary tests.
To get a clearer idea of one’s own conditions, are enough a few little expedients. A simple food diary, for example, is a first and valuable step towards becoming able to associate the consumption of a food with a possible reaction. Then, you should see an allergy specialist, avoiding do-it-yourself intolerance tests. “It will be up to the specialist to make the patient undergo all the appropriate examinations in order to determine whether there is an allergy or an intolerance or there is nothing to worry about” commented Donatella Stain, the manager of the SIAAIC Area for Food allergies.
“Unfortunately, food intolerances, often taken for actual allergies, are currently a fashion and are used to explain all kinds of symptoms: those who do not succeed in losing weight often get convinced that it happens because of an intolerance, while none of the real ones can make anyone gain weight – has explained George Walter Canonica, president of the SIAAIC – acute urticaria, gastrointestinal symptoms and anaphylaxis are the hallmarks of all allergies”. And yet, he has observed, “today it is enough to have an inexplicable fatigue, some digestive difficulties, headaches, pain in the joints or other non-specific disorders that are not easy to classify, for us to make a self-diagnosis of a food intolerance, choosing a food to blame almost randomly”.
The damages caused by this neurotic attitude are different: on the one hand, we spend hundreds of euros to undergo non-recognized tests that can have a cost ranging between 90 and 400-500 euro, widely offered via different sales channels, whereas on the other hand, there is also a risk of underestimating true clinical conditions such as the possibility of an actual allergy or celiac disease. “It follows that the diagnostic process must be rigorous and follow a precise procedure, that cannot be improvised”. The most dubious tests are those of the strength and hair which have been banned. Test that, in 9 cases out of 10, give a positive result, alimenting thus the hypochondriac tendency of the imaginary patient. Exactly as it happens with the prescriptions of unnecessary examinations. To take an X-Ray or a blood test, one should first see a doctor, then have his/her family doctor’s opinion. A step, that is often skipped. This is why the ministry of health has decided for a crackdown on ”useless tests”, unleashing thus the fury of the physicians. Who often have no choice but yield to the insistence of the patients. The latter, in their turn, after obtaining the results, boast to their friends and family about feeling better, at least until they notice the ”menacing” wart on their pinkie.