The Allergy & Asthma Epidemic: Why Now?

A mere generation ago asthma was a rare condition, eczema was a sign of aging skin, and allergy alerts were not on our radar.

But today, allergies are one of the fastest growing chronic diseases in childhood.

So this begs the question: why do so many people have allergies and asthma these days?

The easy answer is that allergy experts don’t know, but scientists understand a lot more than they did a decade ago, Allergic Living reports.

Figures from the World Allergy Organization reveal that asthma has increased worldwide by an astounding 50 per cent every decade for the past 40 years. In North America today, an estimated 3 million Canadians and 20 million Americans have asthma.

And whether it’s nut, wheat, gluten, dairy, etc., 1 in 20 children under age 3 now has a food allergy.

Air pollution and other environmental factors are believed to be factors. There have also been studies done on the correlation between increased time indoors, and the possible link to household pets (dogs and cats) and dust mites.

Another theory suggests that we may be too darn clean.

Some experts say improved hygiene, immunizations, and antibiotics have dramatically reduced the number of diseases that threaten our bodies. As a result, the immune system — which normally protects the body — overcompensates to harmless substances, such as pollen, mold, pet dander, or food. So when we are exposed to these ‘allergens,’ the body responds with symptoms like swelling, hives, and itching.

In an interesting study, new research reveals that some Amish children are less likely to suffer from asthma or allergies than other youngsters due to the “farming effect.”

The reason for the phenomenon remains unclear, but researchers suggest that contact with cows and regular exposure to microbes could help explain why farm-raised children as a whole are less likely to develop allergies or asthma. Additionally, drinking raw cow’s milk could also be a factor.

And did you hear the latest? A diet of fast food may be behind the steady surge in children’s asthma and allergies affecting the UK and other developed countries, according to a new study.

Regardless of the cause, people with nut allergies — or the parents of children with allergies — live their lives on constant guard in fear of a severe and sometimes fatal allergic reactions. But scientists are working on a way to ease those allergies, by helping sufferers build up tolerance over time.

It’s definitely a hot topic, and some of our favorite celebrity moms have jumped on the activist bandwagon to help educate the public about kids’ allergies.

  • Julie Bowen:

Modern Family star Julie Bowen recently opened up about one of her scariest experiences as a parent – when her son Oliver suffered a life-threatening allergic reaction as a toddler.

When Oliver was just shy of his second birthday, he was eating peanut butter when he was stung by a bee.

“[Suddenly], his entire face swelled up, his eye swelled shut and his lips became giant,” the  actress recalled. “We’re not sure what the trigger was, but he went into anaphylactic shock [and] I immediately panicked.”

Julie and her husband, real estate investor and software developer Scott Phillips, rushed their first-born to the emergency room where he was treated with epinephrine. Although he made a full recovery, the incident still haunts Julie, who has since become an activist in educating the public about kids’ allergies.

“It was so scary,” she recalls. “I don’t want other families to go through that…I want other parents to know what to look for.”

“Parents need to get familiar with the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, to be vigilant and aware and know the triggers,” she said, adding that Oliver and his twin brothers, John and Gustav, have also been taught what to do in the event of a severe allergic reaction. “Kids are surprisingly able to understand the issue and be part of the solution.[Oliver is] young, but he’s very aware of it and doesn’t think it makes him weird or strange, because it doesn’t.”

She stressed: “There’s this wave of kids who have food allergies. Its a big deal; it’s a reality.”

  • Elisabeth Hasselbeck:

Does anyone in your family have a gluten allergy?

If so, Elisabeth Hasselbeck‘s new blog is the place for you! The busy mom-of-three recently opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her online G-Free community.

“While visiting, you will share in fashion, food and favorites that I find along the way!,” Elisabeth said. “The Deliciously G-Free community is incredible and inviting, whether you are a resident expert or new to the G-Free lifestyle. The recipes and sharing are not to be missed! In addition, you can see my various posts on travel, decor, shopping, kids, family, and our great nation.”

She added: “Managing celiac disease, now, is more easy than ever before. [I had] to wait in pain for almost a decade before finding an incredible physician. Getting the proper diagnosis from Dr. Peter Green of the Celiac Disease Center NYC Columbia was the hard part. The initial on-ramp to eating and living on a G-Free diet was what inspired my first book, The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide.”

Do you live with allergies or asthma? Tell us your stories. What are some of your best tips?

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