Sniffles on the RiseIN SEASONAL HEALTH
Have your eyes been itchier than usual lately? You may not be the only one. A new study finds allergies are on the rise in the United States. Learn what this study means for you and what steps you can take to alleviate your autumn ah-choos.
An allergy develops when a person’s body reacts negatively to an allergen. Instead of accepting the foreign substance, the body treats it as a threat and releases histamines to fight the allergen. This release causes the coughing, sneezing and runny nose associated with allergies.
A study, conducted by Quest Diagnostics, suggests both pollen and food allergies are increasing. Between 2005 and 2008, the number of people with at least one allergy increased almost 6 percent. The two largest culprits for this spike were ragweed and mold. Ragweed allergies increased 15 percent, while mold allergies increased 12 percent.
Shake the Pollen
While the cause of this recent rise in allergies is unknown, one thing is for certain—Americans are in need of some serious allergy relief. What can you do to reduce the symptoms of your pollen allergy? Here are some helpful tips:
- Avoid going outside on days with high pollen activity.
- Keep your house, office and car windows closed.
- Place a cold compress on your eyes to reduce puffiness and irritation.
- Remember to take your allergy medications.
- Talk to your primary care physician about allergy shots (immunotherapy).
| Dropping Allergies, Adding Pounds
Allergies are as predictable as the change of seasons, but what many allergy sufferers don’t expect is to gain weight. However, results from a Yale University study published in August 2010 show that people who take allergy medications tend to be heavier than those who don’t.
The two antihistamine drugs used most commonly by those studied were Zyrtec® and Allegra®. While researchers haven’t determined a direct link between using these allergy medications and gaining weight, one theory proposed in the study suggests that antihistamines increase your desire to eat. Besides reacting to allergens, histamines fill a secondary role in regulating appetite. By blocking these neurotransmitters, your allergy medication may be ramping up your need to feed.
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Sources: msnbc.msn.com, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, aafa.org, aaaai.org
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