Why Are Allergies Becoming More Common?

Chances are, you or someone in your family has allergies. After all, allergies affect about 1 out of every 5 people. And things only seem to be getting worse. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), both food and skin allergies in children increased between 1997 and 2011. And more and more people of all ages are reporting allergies to pollens and other environmental triggers.

Allergies Becoming More Common

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The Cause

So the big question is, why is this happening? Some people contend that we are becoming too clean, citing studies that kids on farms tend to have fewer allergies than their urban counterparts. There are also studies that show that the oldest kids in families (whom parents tend to shelter more from germs) have a higher incidence of allergies. This theory linking cleanliness with increased allergies is known as the hygiene hypothesis. It suggests that because kids aren’t exposed to as many germs in today’s society, their immune systems are less shrewd at discerning between harmful elements (such as germs and bacteria) and harmless elements (such as pollens, dust and food proteins).

Some people also blame global warming for increased allergies, stating that a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the air can trigger allergenic plants (such as ragweed) to grow faster and produce more pollen. Pollution, too, has been blamed for exacerbating allergy symptoms. So have changes in our diet, which alter gut bacteria and potentially contribute to food allergies.

The Answer

It used to be that people were told to simply avoid allergens, but that is virtually impossible. No matter how careful you are about closing your doors and windows, washing your sheets in hot water, or using special air filters in your home, you will still be exposed to allergens.

If allergies are affecting your quality of life, consider allergy immunotherapy to help desensitize you to allergens in the environment. Sublingual immunotherapy, which uses under-the-tongue allergy drops to deliver antigen to the body, is becoming one of the most popular, convenient, and affordable ways to teach the body to tolerate the allergens that once made it miserable. Many people choose under-the-tongue allergy drops for kids (rather than allergy shots) because they have a higher safety profile and are delivered through painless oral dropper bottles rather than needles. And unlike allergy shots, oral allergy drops have been found to be an effective food allergy treatment (milk, wheat, nut allergy treatment, etc.)

Visit your sublingual immunotherapy clinic for more information. They will likely order an environmental or food allergy testing kit to determine the nature of your allergies.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.