Ragweed sensitivity rose 15% from 2005 to 2009 according to Quest Diagnostics blood tests to detect allergies. Asthma prevalence increased by 17% according to federal data from 2001 through mid-2012. In 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that asthma had became a national epidemic affecting 56 million, or one in every 23 people.
Statistics show that the overall number of people suffering from allergies is growing for two main reasons: longer pollen seasons caused by climate change and compromised immune systems.
USA Today reports that climate change is linked to more pollen and, as a result, more people suffering from allergies and asthma. Since 1995, pollen season has stretched to 16 days, resulting in a rise of allergic asthma and seasonal hay fever. Doctors expect conditions to worsen unless we stop the increase of carbon dioxide emissions that have been linked to climate change. More people are suffering from itchy eyes, runny nose, coughing, congestion and shortness of breath. They can’t focus at school or work, and they have sleep problems. Medications to help relieve their symptoms have stopped working for some.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology also attributes growing numbers of allergy sufferers to the “hygiene hypothesis” which suggests that overly clean living conditions account for rising allergy and asthma diagnoses. Decreased exposure to germs means that immune systems are not trained to differentiate between harmful and harmless irritants. Studies support the hygiene hypothesis because researchers found that those living on farms are more exposed to germs, but develop fewer allergic diseases and inflammation.
These increased environmental triggers have also resulted in more adults finding themselves plagued with allergies later in life. In the past, someone may have been genetically predisposed but symptoms never expressed themselves because exposure to allergens never hit a critical mass.
However, allergies aren’t necessarily permanent. Removing triggers can help make allergies disappear. Symptoms may vanish with a change of climate or removal of a pet.
Woman’s Day also offers these tips on natural and effective methods for managing allergies (Visit their site for the full list and details):
1. Use saline nasal rinses to flush out allergens from sinuses. The saltwater solution will wash away irritants.
2. Enlist a cool-mist humidifier to help remove allergens out of the air. They will bind to water droplets and fall to the ground instead of being inhaled.
3. Remove pollen and spores from the air using an air purifier with a HEPA filter. The bedroom is the best location for this machine if you only have one.
4. Keep your immune system well balanced with probiotics. Choose yogurts that contain Acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, and Bifidobacterium lactis.
5. Acupuncture can calm an overactive immune system that causes bad allergy symptoms. Try to start treatment about a month before your peak season.
We can’t always avoid the allergens in our environment, but we can try to manage how much the irritants impact our daily productivity.
Co-authored with Shane Power, President of Watertree Health, where Lisa works in communication and business development.