How Common Are Seasonal Allergies
- In 2018, approximately 24 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with seasonal allergic rhinitis . This equals around 8% of adults and 7% of children.1,7
- Seasonal allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction to pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. This type of rhinitis occurs mainly in the spring and fall when pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds are in the air.
- In 2018, white children were more likely to have hay fever than Black children.7
- The same triggers for indoor/outdoor allergies also often cause eye allergies.
Issues Mistakenly Linked To Food Allergies
Although some people think certain illnesses can be caused by food allergies, evidence doesn’t back up such claims. Histamines in cheese or red wine, for example, can trigger migraines. But we can’t say that food allergies actually cause migraines. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis aren’t made worse by foods. Food allergies don’t cause “allergic tension fatigue syndrome,” where people get tired, nervous, and may have problems concentrating or headaches.
Cerebral allergy is a term that describes when mast cells are supposedly releasing their chemicals in the brain — and nowhere else in the body — causing trouble concentrating and headaches. Most doctors don’t recognize cerebral allergy as a disorder.
Even when their surroundings are very clean, some people have many general complaints like problems concentrating, fatigue, or depression. Environmental illness may be the result of small amounts of allergens or toxins, but not food allergies.
Researchers have found that hyperactivity in children may be related to food additives, but only occasionally and only when the child has had a lot of them. A food allergy won’t directly affect a child’s behavior, although their symptoms might make them cranky and difficult, and allergy medications can make them sleepy.
Genetics And Our Environment
Scientists are not entirely sure why some people suffer from allergies while others live allergy-free, but studies show that genetics and environment are both important factors.
Studies of twins for which at least one twin is allergic to peanuts have found that, in the case of fraternal twins, the other twin has a 7% chance of also having the allergy. Among identical twins, however, both twins were allergic in 64% of cases. Thus, our genetics clearly influence whether or not we will have an allergy.
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True Food Allergy Vs Sensitivity
Real food allergies have a set of symptoms, including hives, swelling, and potentially anaphylaxis, and are diagnosed by a healthcare provider through testing. Real food allergies cause an immune system reaction whenever the food allergen is ingested.
Some people believe they have a food allergy when what they have is food intolerance or a food sensitivity. Lactose intolerance is one such reaction, involving digestive alterations like diarrhea or excessive gas upon eating a food containing milk. While diarrhea is certainly an embarrassing side effect of lactose intolerance, it is not life-threatening nor does it require medication to help ease or eliminate the symptoms. It does, however, require avoidance of foods containing milk.
Celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity are two more conditions that people often mistake for food allergies. In those conditions, people develop digestive and other symptoms when they consume foods that contain the protein gluten, found in the grains wheat, barley, and rye. However, the symptoms are different from those of a true food allergy.
Although lactose intolerance, celiac disease, and gluten sensitivity are not true food allergies, many people refer to the conditions as “allergies” because it helps family members, friends, and restaurant staff members to understand that they must avoid food containing those ingredients.
How Common Are Drug Allergies
- Severe drug reactions account for 3% to 6% of all hospital admissions worldwide. Drug allergy accounts for less than 10% of these severe drug reactions.12
- The most commonly reported drug allergy is to penicillin, with up to 10% of people saying they are allergic to these drugs. However, less than 10% of these people are actually allergic to penicillin drugs when evaluated for these allergies.13
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Why Are Only Some People Allergic To Some Foods
If you are part of the approximately 4 percent of adult Americans who suffer from a food allergy, you might be interested to know why the peanut butter on a sandwich could kill you with one bite, while the jam is harmful only to your waistline.
All allergic reactions , basically, are the result of the body’s defense mechanism against foreign intruders it perceives as harmful. Your immune system responds to the threat by pumping out antibodies, which in turn trigger the release of protective chemicals that make your nose runny, eyes itchy and, sometimes, make it impossible to breathe.
Though any food can cause such an allergic response, some are notorious for provoking the immune system, while others are almost universally innocuous to the human race. Nuts, seeds and shellfish are well-known allergens, as are corn, milk, soy, eggs and wheat. In fact, these account for 90 percent of all food allergies in America, according the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Although it may seem that the muscle of a shrimp, the bean of a plant, and the milk of a mammal are very different substances, the unifying thread of the “big eight” allergens is the type of protein they contain.
When the proteins in question are spotted by the immune system in people with allergies, the type of antibody put into action is the whimsically named Immunoglobulin E , which humans first developed as a defense against parasites, scientists believe.
What Is The Immune System
The purpose of the immune system is to defend itself and keep microorganisms, such as certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi, out of the body, and to destroy any infectious microorganisms that do invade the body. The immune system is made up of a complex and vital network of cells and organs that protect the body from infection.
The organs involved with the immune system are called the lymphoid organs. They affect growth, development, and the release of lymphocytes . The blood vessels and lymphatic vessels are important parts of the lymphoid organs. They carry the lymphocytes to and from different areas in the body. Each lymphoid organ plays a role in the production and activation of lymphocytes.
Lymphoid organs include:
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What Is In An Environment
In conversation, people tend to use the word environment as a catchall for the great outdoors or perhaps to mean ones living space. But to epidemiologists and immunologists its much more. The womb, for instance, is one environment.
When Turvey speaks of the environment that the families enrolling in CHILD are exposed to, he breaks it down into several sub-categories. First, he sees the physical environments the home, the daycare, the level of pollution outside them the levels of dust, mold, tobacco smoke and chemical exposures inside and whether pets are owned.
And I think the infectious environment is important factors such as cold viruses and bacteria in a babys body, he says. He even views diet as another environment of stimuli that may influence immune responses: environment is everything were exposed to.
Turvey also describes a psycho-social environment, and here, hes largely talking about the amount of stress on the mother in pregnancy or in the home after birth. Is there, for instance, a financial burden or might her support network be lacking?
Theres evidence that stress can make asthma worse and may even set the scene for asthma predisposition in infants, he says. He thinks these aspects, even in utero, should not be underestimated.
When Does A Person Develop Allergies
Allergies can develop at any point in a persons life. One factor that increases your chance is your family history. If one parent is allergic there is a 30-50% chance of their offspring developing allergies. This jumps to 60-80% if both parents are allergic.
In many cases, allergies first present early in life, during infancy or the toddler years. Most of these allergies will be lifelong concerns, although some can resolve on their own.
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Why Do People Have Allergies
Allergies affect many people across that world which can really make life very difficult sometimes, especially with allergies to frequent parts of life. There are many different types of allergies that are caused based on the individual dealing with them. Even though there are some areas of this topic that are still trying to be figured out, there are some aspects that are definite. One of these aspects is that the immune system and genetics are two of the main determinants of who gets certain allergies and who does not get them.
Most people tend to believe that the physical object or thing that they are allergic to is what causes allergic reactions, but this is not true. In fact, it is really the individuals immune system that creates these symptoms. The body ends up going after whatever you are allergic to because it believes that the allergen is posing danger to you . When this happens, the immune system sends out cells to stop the danger, which causes side effects in areas such as the nose, skin and lungs. These side effects are happening here because chemicals like histamine are released, which will typically lead to swelling or itchiness . The reason that the body is tricked into thinking these allergens are harmful could very well be because of the genetic makeup of the individual being affected.
How To Prevent Pollen Allergies
As with other allergies, the best way to prevent symptoms of a pollen allergy is to avoid the allergen.
Pollen is difficult to avoid, though. Still, you may be able to minimize your exposure to pollen by:
- staying indoors on dry, windy days
- having others take care of gardening or yard work during peak seasons
- wearing a dust mask when pollen counts are high
- closing doors and windows when pollen counts are high
To find out the pollen counts in your area, check an app or the weather section of your local newspaper.
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The Definition Of Allergy
Allergy occurs when a person reacts to substances in the environment that are harmless to most people. These substances are known as allergens and are found in dust mites, pets, pollen, insects, ticks, moulds, foods and some medications.
Atopy is the genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases. When atopic people are exposed to allergens they can develop an immune reaction that leads to allergic inflammation. This can cause symptoms in the:
- Nose and/or eyes, resulting in allergic rhinitis and/or conjunctivitis.
- Skin resulting in eczema, or hives .
- Lungs resulting in asthma.
How To Get Tested
A food allergy will usually cause some sort of reaction every time the trigger food is eaten. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and you may not always experience the same symptoms during every reaction. Allergic reactions to food can affect the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system. It is impossible to predict how severe the next reaction might be, and all patients with food allergies should be carefully counseled about the risk of anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal reaction that is treated with epinephrine .
While food allergies may develop at any age, most appear in early childhood. If you suspect a food allergy, see an allergist, who will take your family and medical history, decide which tests to perform and use this information to determine if a food allergy exists.
To make a diagnosis, allergists ask detailed questions about your medical history and your symptoms. Be prepared to answer questions about:
- What and how much you ate
- How long it took for symptoms to develop
- What symptoms you experienced and how long they lasted.
After taking your history, your allergist may order skin tests and/or blood tests, which indicate whether food-specific immunoglobulin E antibodies are present in your body:
Your allergist will use the results of these tests in making a diagnosis. A positive result does not necessarily indicate that there is an allergy, though a negative result is useful in ruling one out.
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Can Allergies Weaken Your Immune System
Summer season is here, and with the heat comes the usual threat of some seasonal allergies. This is also the time when many people are wondering, can allergies weaken your immune system?. A direct answer to this question is yes allergies can indeed weaken your immune system.
Although having allergies doesnt cause you to have a cold or flu, your allergy treatment is a factor that makes you vulnerable to other sicknesses. Sometimes, its hard to differentiate between allergies and sickness. Lets say that youre sneezing, have a runny nose, and a sore throat. You may be mistake these symptoms of allergy for a cold. The only time youll realize that its more than just an allergy is when you suffer from a fever or headache. In addition, a cold may last only for a week or so, while your allergies will stay for as long as you get exposed to the allergen.
However, if youre suffering from allergies and they arent getting effective treatment, it could possibly weaken your immune system, making you more at risk on viruses and other bacterias. This can result in your allergies evolving into a sinus, ear, or infection in your upper respiratory.
Can You Outgrow Peanut Allergies
Children can often outgrow certain food allergies, particularly milk and egg. In fact, the Mayo Clinic estimates that 60 to 80 percent of children will no longer have milk or egg allergies by the time they turn 16.
Unfortunately, the outlook is a bit less optimistic regarding peanut allergies. Its believed that only 20 percent of children will outgrow peanut allergies.So how do you find out if youre a part of the lucky one-fifth that no longer needs to worry about shoveling handfuls of peanut m& ms into their mouth?
Definitely not by trying the foods that you might still be allergic to. If you are worried you or your child has food allergies, testing can be done with a skin prick test or a blood test.
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Why Some Of Us Have Allergies And Others Dont
Fine dust makes me sneeze, which makes living in Delhi a bit of a challenge. Not only does my allergic rhinitis popularly referred to as hay fever make me sneeze my way through pollen, dust and soot from vehicular exhaust, I also develop an annoying sniffle on exposure to particulates from construction dust and smog.
I am also allergic to the most commonly used family of painkillers, called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . So with aspirin, paracetamol, ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen giving me a mild attack of hives , Ive pretty much aced bearing aches and pain without medication.
What mystifies me is why I have these allergies. No one in my extended family has rhinitis or drug allergies. Why, then, does my immune system go into overdrive on exposure to certain harmless particles? Why dust but not peanuts, seafood or eggs?
The jury is still out on why some people have allergies and others dont. The advocates of the hygiene hypothesis claim that environmental changes, rapid urbanisation, altered diets and antibiotic use are lowering immune tolerance and raising the incidence of allergies.
A combination of strategies, including natural childbirth, breastfeeding, increased social exposure through sport and outdoor activities, less time indoors, a healthy diet low in sugars and carbohydrates, and rational antibiotic use, helps keep the microbiome healthy to lower allergy risk.
The invisible threat
Fda Activities On Allergens In Cosmetics
To better understand allergens in cosmetics, the FDA focuses its efforts around three main areas:
- Monitoring of adverse event reporting
- Conducting scientific research on the mechanisms of allergic reactions and how allergens interact with the bodys immune system and
- Conducting research on consumer practices, the frequency of adverse reactions, and consumer awareness of allergens in cosmetics.
Monitoring Adverse Event Reporting
Adverse event reports contain critical medical information and descriptions that help the FDA identify signals of potential safety issues with cosmetic products and ingredients. The FDA receives adverse event reports from healthcare professionals and consumers via MedWatch. The FDA reviews all adverse event reports and when necessary, takes action to address safety issues associated with cosmetic products and ingredients.
More information on adverse event reporting can be found at the How to Report a Cosmetic Related Complaint page.
Scientific Research on Cosmetic Allergens
- In Chemico Evaluation of Tea Tree Essential Oils as Skin Sensitizers: Impact of the Chemical Composition on Aging and Generation of Reactive Species. Avonto C., A.G. Chittiboyina, M. Wang, Y. Vasquez, D. Rua & I.A. Khan. 2016. Chemical Research in Toxicology. 29:1108-17.
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Can Allergies Stop On Their Own
A question commonly asked at diagnosis is how likely is it that my allergy will improve with time? The severity and types of symptoms you had at your initial reaction and the number of foods to which you are allergic can help predict your chances of outgrowing the allergy. In addition, we know that milk, egg and soy allergies most often improve with time while peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish are less likely to improve.
Its not recommended you simply assume that youve outgrown a reaction to an allergen instead, you should visit an allergist for testing. For food allergies, if your test results indicate that it is safe, you will participate in an in office oral food challenge to determine if you still have symptoms.