Allergies, allergies everywhere

By Jane Smith on 20th May 2020

Its that time of year again. For those of you suffering from environmental allergies, Spring can be bad news. And for those of you with food allergies, well, you have to live with them all the time.  But why do so many more people seem to suffer from both now, compared to those who did in years past?

Talk to your grandparents about allergies and theyll more than likely say “We didnt have any in our day,” which is probably true to a great degree. So why do so many people nowadays seem to suffer from allergies, whether food or environmentally related? The number of people worldwide with allergies is increasing, and the steepest increase in allergiesparticularly food allergieshas been observed in children. Researchers estimate that some 15 million Americans and 17 million Europeans have food allergies, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. A 2010 study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that the number of children with peanut allergies more than tripled between 1997 and 2008.

Jennifer Levine the Managing Editor of Developmental Cell, Cancer Cell explains the possible causes of Food Allergies: “In general, when we think of what causes allergies, we’re thinking of allergens like pollen or pet dander. But these things aren’t causing allergiesthey’re just triggering an allergic reaction. So what is the actual cause? Wellscientists aren’t 100% sure. But they do know that genetics has a lot to do with it. If your parents have allergies of any kind, odds are you will too. If you or a member of your immediate family has asthma, this also increases your risk of developing allergies.

There’s also some biological predisposition at work. It seems eminently unfair, but if you already have an allergy, youre more likely to develop an allergy to something else. It makes sense if you think about it: your immune system has already overreacted to one allergen and is already unnecessarily producing immunoglobulin E, so why not direct that IgE to more allergens, just to be safe? This explains why it seems to be all or nothing for a lot of people with allergies; either you meet someone with no allergies, or you meet someone who seems to be allergic to everything.

Two 2016 studies in Science Translational Medicine have suggested that signs of food allergies may be present already at birth. And it’s widely known that children with eczemawho frequently have an inherited allergic tendencyare at higher risk of developing food allergies. And yet, genetics aren’t entirely to blame: a 2013 study in JAMA Pediatrics found that foreign-born children who live in the US have a lower risk of developing allergiesand, even more interesting, that this risk grows the longer they remain here.”

In answer to a question on www.allergic.com about why are there so many allergies today, Dr. Scott Sicherer, a practicing allergist, clinical researcher and professor of pediatrics, and Chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology, Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, offered this explanation:

The shortest answer is we do not know exactly. There are theories based on our rapid change in lifestyle over the past decades. The theory with the most traction is about our relationship to germs, the hygiene hypothesis. We live clean. We protect ourselves from germs with medications. We wash frequently, have smaller families, and live away from farms and animals. Perhaps our immune system is looking for a fight and, without a steady challenge of harmful germs, it ends up misdirected, attacking innocent proteins in our food.

This is not an advertisement to allow ourselves to get dangerous infections, but it may be an explanation to why, as a society, we see more allergy an immune attack on innocent proteins from the outside and more autoimmune disease an attack on innocent proteins on the inside. It also presents a research opportunity to learn about the good bacteria that inhabit our bodies and how to manipulate them to our benefit.

Think about other changes in lifestyle with computers and cell phones and our fast-paced, unhealthy diet. We are eating bad fats, not getting as much exercise, becoming obese, and so on. There are theories that these changes affect our immune systems.

Similarly, we use more sunscreen and spend less time outdoors, reducing our bodys natural production of vitamin D. This vitamin, in the proper amounts, may ensure a healthful immune system. Sun safety is important, but there may be consequences that require attention with supplementation.

Additional factors include the way food is processed, the timing of food introduction to children, pollution, and other environmental factors.” (Courtesy: www.allergicliving.com)

Food Allergies: What Are Major Food Allergens?

Although more than 160 foods can cause allergic reactions in people with food allergies, the law identifies the eight most common allergenic foods. These foods account for 90 percent of food allergic reactions and are the food sources from which many other ingredients are derived (such as whey from milk).

The Eight Foods Identified by the Law Are:

1. Milk

2. Eggs

3. Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)

4. Crustacean shellfish (e.g. crab, lobster, shrimp)

5. Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)

6. Peanuts

7. Wheat

8. Soybeans

Symptoms of food allergies typically appear from within a few minutes to two hours after a person has eaten the food to which he or she is allergic.

Allergic reactions can include:

Hives

Flushed skin or rash

Tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth

Face, tongue, or lip swelling

Vomiting and/or diarrhea

Abdominal cramps

Coughing or wheezing

Dizziness and/or lightheadedness

Swelling of the throat and vocal cords

Difficulty breathing

Loss of consciousness

If youre allergic to a food ingredient, you probably look for it on the food product’s label. The law requires that food labels identify the food source names of all major food allergens used to make the food. This requirement is met if the common or usual name of an ingredient (e.g., buttermilk) that is a major food allergen already identifies that allergen’s food source name (i.e., milk). Otherwise, the allergen’s food source name must be declared at least once on the food label in one of two ways. Major food allergen names must appear. (Courtesy: www.fda.gov )

What are the major environmental allergies?

Dust Mites

Dust mites are tiny bugs that live in bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and carpets. No matter how clean your house is, it’s impossible to completely get rid of dust mites. However, you can limit contact, especially in the bedroom, if you:

Put special dust-proof covers on pillows, mattresses and box springs. Remove and clean the covers frequently.

Avoid bedding stuffed with foam rubber or kapok.

Limit the number of stuffed animals kept in bedrooms or put them in plastic containers.

Pollen

Grasses, trees, and weeds produce pollens that travel through the air and are inhaled. They cause seasonal allergy symptoms and trigger asthma. Pollens from trees are higher in the spring, grasses in the summer and weeds in the fall. This may vary depending on weather conditions and where you live. If possible:

Keep windows closed during pollen season, especially during the day.

To avoid pollen, know which pollens you are sensitive to and then check pollen counts. In spring and summer, during tree and grass pollen season, levels are highest in the evening. In late summer and early fall, during ragweed pollen season, levels are highest in the morning.

Take a shower, wash your hair, and change clothing after working or playing outdoors.

Pets

Allergic reactions to pets are caused by the animal’s dander. Short-haired pets are not any less likely to cause a reaction than long-haired animals.

If you have an allergy to animals, it’s best not to get a new pet. If you already have a pet you cannot live without, you should:

Keep the pet outdoors or restrict it to a few rooms in the house. At the very least, keep the pet outside of the bedroom.

Wash hands after petting.

Bathe your pet once a week to reduce dander.

Mold

Molds are found in outdoor air and can enter your home any time you open a door or window. Any house can develop a mold problem with the right conditions. Molds like to grow on wallboard, wood, or fabrics, but they will grow any place. They thrive in damp basements and closets, bathrooms (especially showers), places where fresh food is stored, refrigerator drip trays, house plants, air conditioners, humidifiers, garbage pails, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and old foam rubber pillows.

The Top Asthma Cities in America:

1. Memphis, Tennessee

2. Richmond, Virginia

3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

4. Detroit, Michigan

5. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

6. Nashville, Tennessee

The Five Worst Cities to Live in With Fall Allergies:

1. Jackson, Mississippi

2. Memphis, Tennessee

3. McAllen, Texas

4. Louisville, Kentucky

5. Syracuse, New York

6. Nashville, Tennessee

 Courtesy: http://www.aafa.org

 

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