Asthma and Allergies
If you suffer from an allergy, you are definitely not alone. With the overall incidence, the number of people suffering from allergies such as hayfever and asthma has doubled in Australia over the past 25 years.
It has been estimated that 40 per cent of the population in Australia suffer from allergic rhinitis, runny nose, unable to stop coughing, coughing mucus, itchy eyes like hayfever and other similar symptoms.
“The past five decades have seen tremendous growth in the incidence of all immune-based diseases, with allergies and asthma very much “the tip of the iceberg,” says Dr. Rothenberg, Director of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Cincinnati, USA.
No one knows really why allergies are on the rise. As hayfever symptom presentations were increasing in the 70’s compared to the 50’s, pollen counts were falling.
A number of possible reasons have been put forward.
It could be due to an increase in dust mite populations in houses because of the way we build and furnish our homes. Most houses now have wall-to-wall carpets and ventilation is reduced to retain warmth in winter and coolness in summer. The result, an even temperature and high humidity, ideal conditions for dust mites to breed.
We spend more time indoors, increasing contact with dust, synthetic materials, and household chemicals and we are more likely to keep pets indoors.
We are exposed to more air pollution, common in urban areas around the world, which may also play a role in increasing asthma.
Changes in our eating habits, for example an increased intake in processed foods which contain a high concentration of colouring agents and chemical preservatives, could be making us more inclined to developing allergies, like a dust mites allergy.
With added focus on cleaner, germ-free lives, exposure to fewer illnesses in childhood, our immune systems may have inadequately developed and over-react when exposed to allergens such as grass pollen, house dust mites and cat hairs, a theory put forward in the 80’s.
Studies since, showed children raised on farms with livestock had a third fewer allergies than those who were not. Yet, the theory does not account for increases in allergies in some parts of the world remote from the infrastructure of developed nations.
Today, around the world, we find ourselves exposed to a far greater amount of foreign substances, such as chemicals, than ever before, which could be causing any number of ill-effects to our bodies that medical scientists are still unaware of.