All about Allergies

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A closer look reveals what’s behind this modern medical condition that afflicts millions of people every day.

Allergies are an increasing problem in the modern world, so it’s worth taking a closer look at them in an effort to determine what triggers these adverse reactions and what factors may help prevent them.

On a basic level, allergies refers to when innocuous substances foreign to the body act as allergens and cause a response. It’s essentially the body overreacting to a non-dangerous stimulus.

There are countless allergy triggers. Among the most common are pollen, dust mites, animal dander, mold, insect stings, and different foods and medication.

When the body senses these substances, it releases histamines into the bloodstream to defend against the invading force. This continues upon subsequent exposures, so seasonal allergy sufferers, for example, have similar problems on an annual basis.

Inhaled allergens can cause mild annoyances like eye irritation or congestion, as well as more serious reactions like asthmatic symptoms caused by the narrowing of the airways.

Food allergies can cause different types of reaction, such as irritated skin, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea.

Bee stings or medicine can also cause a dangerous reaction in those with severe allergies, even resulting in death if not treated immediately with epinephrine.

The cause of a particular reaction isn’t always apparent. Some sufferers can be affected instantly, even upon a minimal exposure, as anyone who knows someone with a peanut allergy can attest. Others experience a more delayed reaction, with symptoms not appearing for hours.

Allergies are strictly a modern health concern and weren’t known until very recently. The term itself, “allergy,” is barely a century old, coined in 1906 by an Austrian physician who noticed his patients were becoming more sensitive to previously innocuous items.

Allergies appear to have become increasingly more common in recent years. This appears to be the case for a number of reasons, among them the so-called Hygiene Hypothesis, which theorizes that as our modern lifestyles have reduced the risk of some illnesses because of a greater emphasis on cleanliness, our bodies have reacted by finding new problems where none had previously existed.

Supporting that theory, allergies are more concentrated in developed countries than in traditional societies. What’s more, the rate of allergy sufferers seems to increase as development progresses.

Allergies are an increasing issue in the modern world, and considering the susceptibility to allergies appears to be hereditary, it does not look to be going away anytime soon.

Allergies can be treated in various ways, from shots to prescription medications to over-the-counter remedies to natural solutions.

Different sufferers respond better or worse to individual remedies, so it is often a bit of trial and error until the solution can be found. In the meantime, this modern medical annoyance has a lot of us searching for answers.

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Lex Cavemen

LEX is the scientist. He is obsessed with understanding why and how the world around him works the way it does.

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