Why are allergies becoming more common?

Allergies seem to be becoming more common, but no one knows for sure why. Various theories show that it is the result of the changes in the way we live. We live in a cleaner, modern society and our immune systems no longer have to fight off multiple infections during the first years of our life. The absence of infections results in the immune system changing from an “infection fighting” stance towards an “allergies” stance. These two different stances represent opposites as far as our immune system is concerned.

An allergen is any substance that causes your body’s immune system to overreact and produce antibodies against it. It produces a type of antibody (protein that fights off viruses and infections) called immunoglobulin E (IgE) to fight off the allergen. When the body comes into contact with the allergen again, IgE antibodies are released, causing chemicals to be produced.

Some examples of common allergens include:
(1) pollens
(2) dust mites
(3) pet hair
(4) foods (such as milk, eggs, wheat, soya, seafood, fruit and nuts)
(5) bee and wasp stings
(6) medications
(7) household chemicals...

Some of the following complementary and alternative medicine techniques are being used in allergy treatment:

(1) Homeopathy - homeopaths believe that any substance that produces symptoms similar to the symptoms under treatment would actually cure that same disease if taken in minute doses.

(2) Acupuncture - it has been found to be particularly useful for pain relief and the practice has grown remarkably in recent years. Claims that the use of acupuncture is useful in treating allergies in general are not based on well-performed clinical trials.

(3) Herbal medicine - herbal remedies such as the Ma Huang plant (Ephedra sinica) which contains ephedrine has been used to treat asthma for 5000 years but there is very little evidence that herbal medicines in general confer any major benefit.

(4) Ionization - ionizing machines emit negative electric charges into the air, and this supposedly causes airborne allergens to cluster and fall to the ground. These machines have been claimed to help hayfever and asthma sufferers by decreasing the allergen load on the nasal mucosa and lungs....