Today’s Commonness of Allergies

Why is it now that there are peanut free tables in the lunchrooms at schools? Did teachers always carry backpacks full of epipens and inhalers on field trips? Did certain kids always stay inside on “high pollen count” days and not go out to recess? TV is inundated with commercials for allergy relief. Why so many allergies now? Have they always been around to this degree? Last year my daughter had 6 kids in her class with allergies and epipens out of a class of 21. That to me is a lot.

According to the piece, “Prevalence of Food Allergies in Today’s World”, “asthma and allergies affect 1 out of 4 Americans, or 60 million people.” Again, that’s a lot to me. I don’t remember my friends in school years ago being allergic to so many things. Sure people sneezed a little more in the fall and winter, or when the cat sat on them for too long, but not to this extent.

Heavy pollution and stressful lifestyles may be to blame, according to People aren’t outside like they used to be, and though that may seem a way to prevent the common ragweed and hay fever allergies, it is in fact, messing with our immune systems. We are breathing tainted air inside buildings; mold is growing inside the framework of homes; air pollution is so heavy that in major cities safe air indexes are given on the news.

People also travel more, therefore, exposing themselves to new plants and allergens they are not accustomed to. Whereas you may have no hay fever in your hometown, when you travel to another region, allergies kick in.

Some medical professionals also argue that we keep ourselves and our kids too clean. Kids aren’t allowed to get dirty like they used to. Many families don’t have pets because of the dirt, dander and hair. On the contrary, studies have shown that families where kids grow up with indoor pets have less allergies and common colds. All of us moms keep bottles of Purell and other hand sanitizers in our purses, our cars; it’s in the classrooms.  And while these hand sanitizers do kill the present germs, they kick back our resistance to other things, leading us down a road similar to living in a bubble, and once we step out, boom, it all hits.

Some of these things we can combat, some we can’t, and some we don’t want to. Our modern conveniences like air conditioning and the ability to travel are marvels that I think a very small number would choose to live without. So maybe the price we pay is more prevalent allergies. Luckily, we have other modern conveniences like medical technology and accessible alternative methods to relieve the symptoms, internet access to research allergies and relief, and all around growing awareness to understand the allergies that many of us live with.

– Heather Legg

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