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.
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.
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.