With the warmth of spring and summer come seasonal allergies and if it seems that they are getting more intense, that would be correct.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a new study, reported that food and skin allergies were becoming more prevalent in American children and there were significant differences by race.
Between 1997 and 2011, allergies more than doubled among U.S. children, meaning that one in every 20 American kids would likely develop a food allergy and one in every eight a skin allergy and respiratory allergies remain common for youth younger than 18.
Interestingly, food and respiratory allergies also increased with income level, so more affluent families saw higher rates of childhood allergies. The survey also revealed that Latino children had lower allergy rates than non-Hispanic white and black children, but the study did not look into the reasons for the disparities.
Researchers found that particles of pollen or other so-called antigens can enter the body and while the body usually creates antibodies to destroy the antigens, they also can release histamine and other chemicals that cause an allergic reaction.
Some researchers believe that because we eat more processed food and fewer natural nutrients and spend less time outdoors and exercise less, our immune systems may be reacting differently to antigens.
Additionally, a report earlier this year from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood linked fast food consumption to increased risks of developing asthma, eczema, and hay fever. People who ate fast food three or more times a week had about a 30 percent increased risk of severe asthma, hay fever and eczema.
Researchers saw a protective effect against severe asthma for those who ate fruit at least three times a week.
Some allergists recommend antihistamines, decongestants, inhalers and nasal sprays, alone or in combination. Sometimes, patients also receive allergy shots, which last longer than oral medications.
The good news, according to Dr. Erinn Gardner, an allergist with the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic, is that treatment is available for allergies.
“Typically it’s tree pollen that will trigger symptoms during the springtime and definitely grass pollen can cause an issue during the spring as well,” Gardner said in a recent interview.
“If your symptoms are relatively mild in nature, it’s just a small amount of runny nose, sneezing or itchy eyes, it’s certainly fine to try an over-the-counter antihistamine.”
“If your allergies are more serious, it’s a good idea to get to the doctor.”