CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Somerset Life today CLICK HERE

Immunity Gone Wrong

PUBLISHED: 15:11 22 October 2007 | UPDATED: 14:54 20 February 2013

Immunity Gone Wrong

Immunity Gone Wrong

More and more people are suffering from allergies in this country - why? The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee warned recently that allergies are reaching epidemic proportions in the UK. In the last 20 years, there has been a dramati...

More and more people are suffering from allergies in this country - why? The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee warned recently that allergies are reaching epidemic proportions in the UK. In the last 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in the instance of allergies, giving the UK one of the highest rates of allergic disease in the world. The severity of the symptoms has also increased, so much so that a number of potentially life-threatening disorders, previously rare, are now much more common. Peanut allergy - the most common food allergy to cause fatal or near-fatal reactions - is one such. Ten years ago it was a rare disorder, yet it has since trebled in incidence and now affects one in 70 children in the UK. The latest estimates suggest that around 18 million people will develop an allergy at some time in their lives.

Allergic reactions are caused by substances in the environment known as allergens, which are harmless to most people but can cause significant symptoms in the body of a predisposed person. That person's immune system believes itself to be under attack so produces a particular type of antibody to attack the 'invading' material. This in turn triggers other blood cells to release histamines, and these together produce the symptoms of an allergic attack - typically sneezing, a runny nose, wheezing, shortness of breath, itchy and watery eyes or rashes - although these symptoms can all also be caused by factors other than allergy. Common allergens are pollen, house dust mites, moulds, pets, industrial and household chemicals, medicines and foods such as milk and eggs.

We don't start out with allergies, but develop them as a result of contact with the allergen. There are various theories for the rapid increase in allergies. Increased incidence of peanut allergy, for example, could be the result of more pregnant women eating nuts and sensitising their foetuses, or more children being introduced to nuts at an earlier age. There's also the possibility that Western society's increasing obsession with cleanliness is leaving children's immune systems with nothing to react against, causing it to respond inappropriately to 'safe' products. And, curiously, children with more siblings are less likely to develop hayfever than an only child. It's thought that children with more siblings experience more childhood infections, and that having infections somehow protects against allergy. Dirt and infections - maybe there's something to be said for the old adage about the benefits of eating a peck of dirt before you die.

WEBSITES:

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200607/ldselect/ldsctech/166/16602.htm

Peanut allergy www.peanutallergyuk.co.uk

0 comments

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from Style

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Cloth manufacturer Fox Brothers has been part of Wellington’s history for more than 240 years. Chrissy Harris discovers how this proudly traditional firm is making the cut in the modern world

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Up to a third of people in the UK suffer with varicose veins, with many experiencing pain and discomfort. We talk to vascular specialist Dr David West about the minimally invasive and cost-effective treatment of varicose veins without surgery

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Bride: The Wedding Show returns to Westpoint Exeter on October 13 and 14th promising a weekend of inspiration and entertainment with over 160 regional wedding suppliers on hand to help you plan your special day

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Tinnitus sufferers are being invited to use a new online, sound matching tool to help better understand their type of tinnitus and the potential treatments available to them.

Read more
Thursday, July 5, 2018

As the weather hots up give your look a modern boho twist

Read more
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Want vibrant skin that everyone will notice over Christmas? Our editor Charlotte Skidmore may have found just the thing

Read more
 
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad
subscription ad


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search

Local Business Directory

Property Search