Allergies are a miserable reality for 20 percent of Americans (more have them, but not severe enough to effect their activities). Spring and fall are beautiful, colorful seasons to many of us, but for allergy sufferers they can mean months of staying indoors to avoid itchy eyes, runny nose, wheezing or other symptoms. People with food allergies don’t have an off-season; they need to vigilantly check ingredients on everything they consume.
What are allergies anyway? Allergies are when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance, such as pollen or pet dander, by producing antibodies and that identify that particular allergen as harmful, even though it isn’t. When you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system sets off alarm bells and histamines (a chemical in the body) that can inflame sinuses, eyes, the specific site for a bug bite, or other reactions.
Here are some other facts about allergies suffers (and those around them) should know:
- Odds are that beautiful spring flowers are not the cause of your allergies. Most allergies this time of year are caused by tree pollen, not flowers. In addition, the trees more people are allergic to -oak, birch, pine and maple – have small or no flowers. Trees that do not flower or produce small flowers produce more pollen to so the wind will blow it to the next tree as part of their reproduction process. Trees that flower a lot do not release that much pollen because bees moving from flower to flower are part of their reproduction process.
- Stress can trigger or exacerbate symptoms in people with seasonal allergies, according to a new study. Researchers spent 12 weeks following 179 people who suffered from hay fever, and found that people with higher levels of has more allergy symptoms. While alleviating stress won’t cure your allergies, it may help decrease the intensity of symptoms.
- Contrary to popular belief, pet hair is not an allergen. It’s the particles of pet dander (dead skin), their saliva, and any urine trapped in the hair that causes the allergic reaction to pets.
- “Hypoallergenic” items are not allergy proof. “Hypo” means “less than” or “under,” so “hypoallergenic” products use materials that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Manufacturers of some cosmetics and cleaning supplies market products as hypoallergenic to signify that they do not contain ingredients that are known to cause allergic reactions. However, the manufacturers do not have to prove that their products are hypoallergenic.
- Allergies of every kind – inhaled, contact, ingested, or otherwise – are becoming more prevalent. Allergy problems are the sixth leading cause of chronic disease in the U.S. There are a variety of hypotheses why allergy instances are increasing. The “hygiene hypothesis” is one that has gained a lot of traction. It says that excessive cleanliness in society today interrupts the development of the immune system. Our lifestyles (and things like good sanitation, antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers, smaller families and lack of interaction with germs) do not let our systems develop into a less allergic state. This theory is also touted for food allergies, since we introduce potentially allergic foods later in development than other societies.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Allergies – MSN Healthy Living
Allergic Reaction Causes – Web MD
Dealing with seasonal allergies: Know your options – Philly.com
How to survive a severe allergy season – Pittsburgh Tribune
Stress may make allergy symptoms worse – CBS News
Allergy Statistics and Facts – Web MD