Are you seeing more people sneezing and tearing up every allergy season?
Studies show that allergies are on the rise in developed countries, including the United States — not just seasonal allergies, but allergies of all kinds. Officials say they can’t quite pinpoint the mysterious cause behind such a dramatic increase in allergies, blaming it on some unknown factor in human genetics and our environment. However, it really is no mystery at all.
An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Symptoms include red eyes, itchiness, and runny nose, eczema, hives, or an asthma attack. Allergic reactions are typically defined as sensitivities that occur when a person’s immune system reacts to a supposedly harmless substance in the environment. The real problem is that there are many substances in our environment which are no longer harmless.
Close to 55 percent of Americans were sensitive to at least one allergy-inducing substance, according to a national survey conducted from 1988 to 1994 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). That’s about two to five times higher, depending on the allergen, than the rates found by NIH between 1976 and 1980. Today almost 70 percent are sensitive to more than one allergy-inducing substance.
And food allergies in children have also experienced an uptick. From 1997 to 2007, the number of children with food allergies rose 18 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Walk into any kindergarten class, and they’re all nut-free kindergarteners because of the high incidence of nut allergies. These kids didn’t exist a few decades ago. Many schools are even having to put restrictions on eggs, seeds and even specific types of fruits.
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