A recent survey found that 54.3% of Americans between the ages of 6 and 59 tested positive for one or more allergies, which puts them at greater risk for developing asthma, hay fever and eczema. This latest finding from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) shows the need for more awareness about the prevalence, prevention, and treatment of allergies.
In fact, according to Dr. Ellen Kamhi writing for Health Realizations, the U.S. population failed miserably in the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s (AAFA) first National Allergy Awareness test. Some of the results of the 1,000-person survey include:
• Only 28% of allergy sufferers reported they were “very knowledgeable” about their allergies.
•Most people were unaware of lesser-known allergy triggers, like cockroaches.
•Although most people felt their allergy symptoms were controllable, eight out of ten reported that allergies disrupted their lives.
Dr. Andy Nish, a leading allergist at NGPG Allergy and Asthma in Gainesville, Ga., tells Newsmax that the findings are remarkable.
“What really gets my attention is that eight out of ten reported that allergies disrupt their lives, in addition to other statistics showing how much more knowledgeable people should be about allergies,” he said. “Both of these point to roles for board-certified allergists, who are specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies.
Nish says that the incidence of food allergies, hay fever, asthma and eczema have been increasing over time for reasons that are currently unclear.
According to Verywell Health, allergies are an abnormal immune system response against usually harmless substances call allergens. The allergic person’s body releases chemicals like histamines and leukotrienes that can affect the skin, respiratory system, digestive tract, and other functions of the body. The chemicals trigger symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, congestion, rash, and swelling.
According to NHANES III, the four most common allergens include:
About 25% of Americans tested positive to each one, according to Health Realizations.
The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network says these eight foods account for 90% of all food-related allergic reactions:
•Tree nuts such as walnuts and cashews
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) offers these recommendations to allergy-proof your home:
1. Improve the air flow by opening windows and leaving interior doors open. But close the windows when the pollen count is high. If you love having the windows open, get a special screen that helps filter out pollen.
2. Avoid harmful chemicals like bleach and other harsh cleaners as much as possible. Use products that have been certified asthma and allergy friendly by AAFA.
3. Keep your home’s humidity below 50%, says the AAFA. Buy a dehumidifier if needed.
4. Change the air filters in your heating and air conditioning system regularly, says Dr. Bruce Wylde, a leading alternative health expert. Change your home filter at least every three months, says the expert, and always use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
5. Remove carpeting if possible and replace with solid surface flooring.
6. Give your nose and eyes natural support. “Cleansing your nasal passages with a neti pot is a safe and natural way to keep sinus passages clear of bacteria and allergens,” Wylde says. For red, watery and itchy eyes, use a gentle product like Similasan Allergy Eye Relief that contains only natural ingredients so you can use it frequently.
AAFA offers a free home checklist that you can use to learn more about how to control asthma triggers.
Fighting food allergies may be trickier because foods like wheat and peanuts may be hidden ingredients in many products. Read food labels carefully, says Kamhi. The Food Allergy Survival Guide may also provide helpful tips.
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