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Allergies on the Rise: How Clued In Are You to the Problem?

The number of people suffering from allergies is increasing on a global scale and although allergic reactions are most often found in children, millions of adults are also affected. In this post we discuss the most common allergies and their causes, as well as natural therapies to prevent their onset.

The Most Prevalent Allergies

Statistics show that hay fever (allergy to pollen, grass, weeds and trees) affects up to 30 per cent of people worldwide, with pet hair, mould and dust mites following suit. Skincare products cause a great many allergies in children, who are also more likely to develop food allergies – almost one third are allergic to more than one food, with milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soya, wheat and shellfish causing over 90 per cent of food allergies. About 10 per cent of people are allergic to medication, while three per cent of adults and two per cent of children are allergic to insect stings.

The Cause and Symptoms of Allergies

Allergies develop when our immune systems mounts an attack against allergens, increasing our white blood cell count and antibody levels. Our bodies produce histamine, a natural chemical which is responsible for the symptoms of allergy. Having a parent with allergies, or having asthma or eczema increases our chances of developing allergies. Symptoms of allergies include itching, sneezing, coughing, breathlessness, skin rashes, and even diarrhea.

Why Allergies are More Common

Some scientists believe that allergies are not actually more prevalent; people simply have a greater awareness of this issue now. Others back the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, which states that we are now exposed to fewer germs during our early years, which hampers our immunity. Yet another school of thought believes that delaying weaning to six months and avoiding allergenic foods until later is to blame.

What to Do if You Suspect You Have Allergies

Speak to your doctor and obtain a diagnosis via the skin prick test, which tests which allergens you react to. A blood test, meanwhile, will find antibodies against particular allergens. Natural methods to keep allergies at bay include quitting smoking, avoiding contact with known triggers by reading labels, and taking probiotic supplements during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, to increase a child’s immunity against allergens. Having pets in infancy can also help reduce the rate of skin allergies among children. Quercetin, a natural plant-derived bioflavonoid, is also known to prevent histamine formation.

Author: Mel Stevens

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