Why have I got HAY FEVER?
Prof Stephen Durham an allergy specialist has calculated that the number of hay fever sufferers has doubled over the past 20-years.
Why are the number of sufferers increasing?
He says that there's some evidence that pollution is exacerbating it and that our modern obsession with cleanliness has actually led to weaker immune systems because our small children aren't exposed to infections like they used to be which always helped to develop and strengthen their immune systems.
Interesting to note that researchers in Austria found that young children in regular contact with farm animals were less likely to develop allergies later in life.
Importance of allowing children to get dirty
Children living on farms were found to be three times less sensitive to hay fever and nearly four times less likely to suffer from asthma than those living in a non-rural environment.
In fact there is a lot of evidence that even if you're not lucky enough to live on or near a farm, just owning a dog or cat reduces your child's risk of developing allergies presumably due to the dirt and dander the animals are bringing into the home.
Junk food and allergies
There are a number of studies that have found a strong link between a junk food diet and the raised risk of developing allergies and asthma.
One study found that eating junk food three or more times a week was associated with a 39% increased risk of severe asthma in adolescents and 27% increased risk among children, as well as an increased risk of allergic conditions including hay fever and severe eczema.
On the flip side, eating fruit three or more times per week was associated with an 11% decrease in the prevalence of severe asthma in adolescents and a 14% decrease in younger children.
Dr Jean Emberlin, leading hayfever expert and director of Pollen UK, believes that the inappropriate use of antibiotics is another important factor behind the UK’s extraordinarily high hay fever rates. She believes that antibiotics can disrupt the immune system and are associated with an increase in allergies.
Pollution, hygiene obsession, junk food, overuse of antibiotics... could our modern lifestyles be responsible for the increase of sufferers?
Other allergies or asthma: If you already have other allergies, you are more likely to develop hay fever as well.
Patrick Holford, a leading nutritionist has noticed that many individuals with hay fever have food sensitivities too but when these foods were successfully identified and eliminated, the hay fever very often got much better.
He believes that the reactions to food ‘sensitize’ the tissues in the eye and/or nose, making it more likely that pollen will trigger an allergic reaction there.
Leaky gut: This is a condition where larger particles of undigested foods can pass through the gut wall into the blood stream sparking an immune reaction to the perceived threat. Thus food intolerances to those foods can begin.
Candida Albicans: A severe infection of Candida can lead to Candida spores burrowing through the gut wall causing leaky gut. Gender and age: Interestingly hay fever is more common among pre-adolescent boys but after adolescence, females are more affected. Second-hand smoke: Exposure to cigarette smoke during your early years of life increases your risk of developing hay fever.
Genetic factors: Got a parent or sibling with allergies or asthma? It raises your own risk. This does not garantee that you will also develop it though because a genetic disposition still needs a trigger to kick start it. A trigger could be environment, diet, lifestyle, stress or a number of other things. If you identify with some of the above don't despair!
The good news is that there is plenty you can do to reduce your allergic potential, either to avoid developing hay fever symptoms in the first place or by reducing their severity if you do have them. Check out the natural alternatives below.