Why some people are allergic to certain things while others are not can be a difficult topic to understand. For example, a dog can jump into your lap and, just like that, you will start to sneeze and your eyes will drip. All of this will force you to toss Fido aside in search of a tissue box. Meanwhile, your friend or neighbor experiences none of the above effects.
Why is this? Why are some people more susceptible to allergies than others? This article will help you understand why allergies target some more than others.
It's in the Genes
Allergies can often be blamed on mom and dad. The tendency to become allergic is inherited, and the chances that you also will be allergic increase from about 50 percent when one parent is allergic to 75 to 80 percent when both parents have allergies.
Tell your friends you're "atopic," meaning that you have inherited the tendency to have an allergy. (And hope that none of your friends know Greek, as "atopic" derives from the Greek word for "strange.") But you needn't feel strange...or alone. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) estimates that as many as 50 million Americans suffer with asthma, hay fever, or other allergy-related conditions.
So, the family genes are stacked against you. Does this mean instant sniffles? Not always. Don't forget, even if you have a 60 percent chance of developing allergies, you also have a 40 percent chance of not developing them. That's why Fido turns your nose and eyes into streams while your brother is pretty much dry. In the genetic roll of dice, he came out the winner.
On the next page, learn about allergies in the environment.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Allergies and the Environment
There's more to developing allergies than heredity. What you become allergic to is based on when and how much you're exposed to a substance and how much of it you're exposed to.
For example, say you have a tendency to be allergic to mold spores. You may have no allergy symptoms when you're living alone in your spic 'n' span apartment, but when a roommate moves in, bringing along a jungle of houseplants, an old mattress, and a humidifier (to keep her skin moist), you soon become a symphony of sneezes and snorts. What happened? You had endured a certain amount of exposure to mold spores without a problem, but once the scales were tipped by the onslaught of your roommate's mold-bearing stuff, your immune system kicked into high gear.
How old you are when you're exposed is critical. Recent studies show that heavy exposure early in life -- before 2 years of age -- may be protective against animal allergies and asthma.
Where you live may also affect the degree to which you suffer from allergies. Say you're allergic to the big four: grass, pollen, dust mites, and mold. If you dwell in the Pacific Northwest, where all four are abundant nearly year-round, you may suffer a lot of the time with chronic allergies. Your nose will drip, you'll sniffle, and you'll have a sore throat from postnasal drip, but your symptoms won't be extreme, just ever-present. Move to a higher and drier region, where the grass grows wild but mold spores and dust mites are less common, and your allergies may become seasonally acute (sudden and severe). You might find yourself sneezing uncontrollably for a month but then your symptoms will abate. Living with allergies is often a game of give and take, especially if you suffer from several kinds.
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