The latest surveys show that the rates of allergy are increasing throughout the world, affecting up to 30-35% of people at some stage in their lives. This increase was initially seen in countries such as the UK, Europe and USA, but can now be found in all countries undergoing industrial development. – British Allergy Foundation
Indeed, the number of people with some type of allergy is on a steady incline. The frightening thing is that scientists don’t have a definitive reason for this growing epidemic.
We’ve traditionally associated the word “allergy” with foods, medications, and plants, and rightfully so, as they constitute the vast majority of allergy cases. Unfortunately, due to alterations in the means of production, along with changes to the global environment, “common culprits” of allergies appear to be spreading.
This article discusses five allergy types on the rise – and what preventative measures to take.
5 Allergy Triggers to Avoid
After we’re bitten or stung by some pest, most of us will have a “normal” reaction, such as swelling or itchiness of the skin. For a small, increasing group of people, an insect bite or sting can be deadly. Per the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), approximately 3 percent of adults attacked by an insect die from the reaction.
According to the ACAAI: “Stings from five insects – honeybees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets and fire ants – are known to cause allergic reactions to the venom injected into the skin.” To most people, bites or stings from an insect, though rare, are normal. Hence, when someone experiences a bite or sting, they’re likely to – as most people would – wait for it to heal.
It is important to recognize the potential symptoms of an insect sting allergy: pain, redness, swelling (in the affected area and sometimes beyond), flushing, hives, itching, and anaphylaxis (a less common condition that impairs breathing and can be life-threatening).
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) estimates that as many as 30 percent of adults are allergic to cats and dogs, with cat allergies twice as common as dog allergies.
Goods new for soon-to-be pet owners is that the breed of cat or dog triggers the allergic reaction. In other words, someone can be allergic to certain breeds and be completely unaffected by others.
Per the AAFA: “A truly ‘hypoallergenic’ (unlikely to cause an allergic reaction) cat or dog does not does exist. If you have a cat or dog allergy, your body’s immune system reacts to proteins in the pet’s urine, saliva or dander.” An oversensitive or under-developed immune system is far more likely to cause a pet-related allergic reaction.
Increasing numbers of people allergic to nickel is perplexing to the medical community. Generally, this chemical element is not given a second thought; yet it is ubiquitous is common everyday items: coins, cell phones, eyeglass frames, and jewelry among them.
Initially, a nickel allergy causes contact dermatitis – an itchy rash that appears where your skin touches something (usually) harmless. Besides causing an itchy rash, a nickel allergy can also cause other changes to the skin, such as blistering and redness.
Due to the increasing cases of nickel allergies, many companies are now producing “nickel-free” products. Additionally, some pharmacies sell nickel detection kits; something handy if you’re unsure a product of yours contains the element.
Know how when you go to the doctor, and you check the “No” box that asks if you’re allergic to any medications? If so, you’re not alone. Most people don’t possess a clue to whether they’re allergic to some drug.
Per the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), the most common medications that produce allergic reactions: antibiotics (e.g. penicillin), aspirin and ibuprofen, anticonvulsants (i.e. anti-seizure), chemotherapy, and certain antibody therapies.
“The chances of developing an allergy are higher when you take the medication frequently, or when it is rubbed on the skin or given by injection, rather than taken by mouth,” adds the AAAAI.
Of course, this list would not be complete without food allergies.
A couple of important facts about food allergies: (1) they tend to be hereditary; often passing from parent to child, (2) symptoms of food allergy are extensive, both in scope and duration.
The second point is of particular significance, as an initial reaction to one episode can vary drastically from subsequent reactions – an enigmatic pattern that often leads to unawareness of a potentially dangerous condition.
Any type of food can cause an allergic reaction, though eight food types are responsible for 90 percent of all cases:
– Tree nuts
If you suspect that you may be allergic to something, it is important to visit an allergist (immunologist) for testing. Immunologists are specially trained to manage both allergies and the immune system.
After conducting tests and examining the results, they can design a specialized treatment regimen to help manage the allergic condition(s).