I was at the vet last week with my 16 month old Corgi Barion, who had been licking his paws raw for the previous couple of days. After a thorough check up, the vet informed me that Barion had allergies. I had not changed his food, our detergent, his routine at all, so I asked what he could possibly be allergic to. The vet shook his head and said “Could be a lot of different things, but most likely it is one of the many seasonal allergies to plants blooming outside.” When I pressed him further, he explained “Well, there are fall allergies, but they might be just early fall allergies or late fall allergies, or they might be the winter seasonal allergies, or it might be his food”
It will take us a year of trying to eliminate possibilities to be sure of what the specific allergy is.
With that sad news, I picked up my Barion, sneezed a few times from the cat dander that I am allergic to and drove home to try to figure this all out. When did we become so overrun with allergies? When did the common everyday things start to make us so miserable? Why do so many more people seem to have allergies?
Allergic reactions are your body’s defense system over-reacting to a foreign substance. Many times, these are common items that most people do not have a reaction to, and can also be something that you have not have a reaction to before. The symptoms run from annoying to life threatening, and in some extreme cases, even fatal.
Allergens are found in drugs, foods, chemicals, animals and insects, pollen, pollution, mold and fabrics to list a few. Within those categories is an even more comprehensive list of the items we can be allergic to. Scientist are still debating why there has been such an increase in allergies over the past 50 years. Some say that there are specific genes that are responsible, some say that compromised immune systems leave you more susceptible, and some think that the number of children in your family plays a role in it. While they are still working on filling the holes in the understanding of why, there is no debate that we are moving in the wrong direction.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has compiled some astounding statistics on allergies and how they affect us.
• Worldwide, the rise in prevalence of allergic diseases has continued in the industrialized world for more than 50 years.
• Worldwide, sensitization rates to one or more common allergens among school children are currently approaching 40%-50%.
• In 2012, 10.6% or 7.8 million children reported respiratory allergies in the past 12 months.
• Worldwide, in up to 50% of individuals who experience a fatal reaction there is no documented history of a previous systemic reaction.
• Worldwide, adverse drug reactions may affect up to 10% of the world’s population and affect up to 20% of all hospitalized patients.
Avoidance of your allergy triggers is clearly the best treatment for allergic disease. The simplest ways are to be aware of what the triggers are, and work around them.
If you have pollen allergies, avoid being outside in the morning when pollen counts are highest, or when it is extra windy out. Forgo hanging sheets and clothing to dry outside as the pollen will come in with it. Change your clothing and remove your shoes after being outside for long periods of time.
If food allergies are your concern, learn to read labels on food, and teach your children as well. Don’t be afraid to ask a waiter for an ingredient list in a restaurant. Learn the difference between food allergies and food intolerances.
If you have a latex allergy, as many people do, you have probably never considered sleeping on a latex mattress for fear that it may be a major trigger causing skin irritation, as well as difficulty breathing. Natural latex mattresses are definitely healthier alternatives to traditional mattresses, but in some cases, aren’t very comfortable. Essentia mattresses feature a layer of patented natural latex memory foam that offers the ultimate in comfort by merging the pressure relieving and support benefits of memory foam with the health aspects of natural latex. We were surprised to learn that even though this natural latex memory foam is the top layer of the mattress it remains a great option, as it does not trigger a reaction due to the way the mattresses are manufactured.
Dr. Robert G. Hamilton, Ph.D. and Director, Dermatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology (DACI) Reference Laboratory at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine completed a series of latex-specific allergy trials on Essentia products. The results of his study support the fact that Essentia mattresses are a safe for a person suffering from a latex allergy, and furthermore that a person cannot develop a latex allergy by sleeping on an Essentia.
Allergy sufferers cannot shut off their allergic response. Medications can help reduce symptoms, but the only way to prevent an allergic response is to avoid the allergen altogether. In other words, you need to know what your allergens are and steer clear of them. This is often easier said than done, however.
Researchers are currently trying to find new therapies for people with severe allergies. There is potential for treatments that can help allergy patients suffer less and have fewer severe reactions. Maybe they’ll find a cure someday.