We are seeing more people, especially children, with allergies these days. There are several thoughts about why this is happening, but overall it’s generally described as a hypersensitivity or oversensitivity of the body to an external stimuli. One such theory referred to as the 'hygiene hypothesis' proposes that many children do not get sufficient exposure to a wide variety of microbes, and as result of growing up in an extremely clean environment devoid of microbes the body does not learn how to modulate the immune response effectively. Thus creating a situation where later exposure to a substance causes a hyperactive response, or allergy. There seems to be some credibility for this theory since the significant increase in individuals suffering from allergies has been mainly in the western hemisphere, and we have not seen a corresponding increase in other parts of the globe. However, as more countries become more affluent and the number of people below the poverty line decreases we are seeing an associated rise in atopic conditions such allergy and asthma there as well.
In the US:
· Number of people in the U.S. who have either allergy or asthma symptoms: one in five.
· Percentage of the U.S. population that tests positive to one or more allergens: 55%.
The prevalence of asthma in different countries varies widely, but the disparity is narrowing due to rising prevalence in low and middle income countries and plateauing in high income countries.
· Postnasal drip
· Dark circles under eyes (allergic shiners)
· Puffiness beneath the eyes
· Poor sleep
· Behavioural problems such as irritability, hyperactivity, poor concentration, whining, and pickiness about food
Chronic allergies, especially those that cause allergic rhinitis, a persistent inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the nasal passages, can lead to constant head congestion, decreased hearing ability, reduced concentration, and difficulty remaining alert. Children with allergies may frequently feel tired and irritable.
Hyperactive behavior may also emerge as a result of allergies due to nervous irritability from chronic inflammatory response or the need to keep moving to stimulate endogenous adrenaline supplies. While a tendency towards allergies may be inherited, the extent to which they manifest may have more to do with dietary, emotional and environmental factors than genetic factors.
Suffering from allergies can be a very irritating experience. If you or your child is suffering from allergies, it is best to take them to a Naturopathic Doctor who can perform a proper assessment and form a treatment plan that will address your/your child’s needs. Always speak to your health care provider before beginning any new medications or supplements.
1. Allergy Statistics and Facts. WebMD. Reviewed by Johnson, K. (2012). http://www.webmd.com/allergies/allergy-statistics
2. Asthma Statistics. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://www.aaaai.org/about-the-aaaai/newsroom/asthma-statistics.aspx
3. Romm, A. 2003. Naturally Healthy Babies and Children: A Commonsense Guide to Herbal Remedies, Nutrition, and Health. Celestial Arts.
4. Skowron, JM. 2009. Fundamentals of Naturopathic Pediatrics. CCNM Press. Print.
I am a Naturopathic Doctor and Doula providing care in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. I have a passion for helping people with their health issues and improving the birth experience for Moms, and their babies. I also have a life long love affair with soccer, curling, and the alto saxophone.