Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to a typically harmless substance. Although substances, such as pollen, dust or a particular food are not dangerous to the body, the immune system goes into high gear and produces antibodies to destroy the substance. Chemicals, such as histamine, are released and cause the allergy symptoms you may be familiar with, such as sneezing, runny nose and itching. While many people understand why allergies occur, below are some allergy facts that may surprise you.
1. Allergies Are Often Inherited
Although doctors don’t fully understand why some people are affected by allergies and other are not, there does seem to be a genetic link. According to The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), children who have a parent with an allergy have about a one in three chance of developing some type of allergy. If both parents suffer from allergies, their child has about a 70 percent chance of also having allergies.
2. It Is Possible To Be Allergic To The Sun, Water And The Cold
When people of think of allergens they usually think of dust and pollen, but some other surprising allergens may be the culprit. Cold allergies can lead to hives and swollen skin. Although a cold allergy is not extremely common, it does affect about 2 percent of the population, according to MSNBC. Some other unusual allergies, which may be surprising, include an allergy to water and the sun.
[Related – 10 Weird Allergies That You Won’t Believe]
3. Children Who Are Obese Are More Likely To Have An Allergy
Most people are aware obesity can cause a lot of health problems, but it may be surprising to find out an increase in allergies is one of them. Children who are obese have a 26 percent higher rate of allergies overall and 59 percent higher rate of food allergies.
4. Allergies Can Develop Suddenly In Adulthood
It is common to think if you have not been allergic to something in the past it means you would never have an allergic reaction. However, this may not always be the case. Allergies can develop in the later teen years or even in adulthood. Why the body suddenly reacts to an allergen is not clearly understood.
5. Cases of Peanut Allergies Have Risen Significantly Since 2002
Researchers are not sure why there has been an increase in peanut allergies. One theory is possibly roasting techniques, which are used in the United States may be causing the allergic reaction. Backing up the theory is peanut allergy rates are lower in countries who use a roasting technique different from the United States uses.
6. First Born Children Tend To Have More Allergies
One surprising fact about allergies is birth order may play a role. Some research indicates that first born children tend to have more allergies than children born subsequently. Why first born children are more prone to allergies is not understood, but the theory is conditions in the womb may be different for a first born child.
7. The 5th Leading Cause of Chronic Illness In The United States Is Allergies
Allergies are one of the most common causes of missed work and school and may have an economic cost of over 14 billion dollars annually. About 50 million people are affected by allergies according to The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Roughly 17 million office visits each year in the United States is due to allergies.
8. There May Be An Allergy And Depression Connection
If you find you’re feeling a little down, in some instances, allergies could be to blame. When you think of what causes depression, allergies don’t usually come to mind, but there may be a connection between seasonal allergies and depression. According to Psychology Today, research has indicated that symptoms of depression can become worse during peak pollen season.
9. It Is Possible To Outgrow Certain Allergies
Allergies can be unpredictable. Just as allergies can develop in adulthood, the opposite may also happen. Some children and adults may outgrow allergies. Children especially seem to outgrow certain types of allergies, such as milk allergies. Although outgrowing allergies is possible, never assume a food allergy is a thing of the past, since serious reactions are possible.
10. Having Allergies May Reduces Your Risk of Developing Brain Tumors
If you’re looking for the bright side of suffering from allergies there may be one. According to Brown University, research indicates people who have allergies reduce their risk of developing certain kinds of brain tumors by 33 percent. It appears immunoglobulin E antibodies, which are released during an allergic reaction, may play a part in reducing the formation of gliomas, which are a type of brain cancer.
One fact, which is not surprising about allergies, is how annoying they can be. Although there is not a cure for allergies, treatments may help. Allergy treatments include both over the counter and prescription medications. Some people may also find relief with allergy shots. Determining the allergen and avoiding exposure as much as possible is also one way to reduce allergy symptoms.