Allergies an epidemic to modern societies
Allergy literally means 'altered reaction'. Allergies cause the body to 'overreact' to what are normally harmless substances. Examples are house dust mite allergy, hay fever and food allergy. The immune system regards certain substances as intruders, against which it must 'arm' itself, resulting in a hypersensitivity reaction which can take various forms.
The first allergy report dates back to about 3,000 years BC. It would, however, take a few millennia before the first accurate description appeared. It was not until 1800 that an English doctor described hay fever as 'a summer cold'. Hay fever was not associated with other allergies until almost a century later. The last hundred years have showed an enormous increase in the number of people with allergic disorders.
The causes have not yet been specified. It is likely that our different lifestyle, industrialisation and other environmental factors play a role. The last century has also seen a tremendous increase in knowledge about allergy, enabling people to be treated more effectively.
Up to 20% of the global population suffers from allergic symptoms: An estimated 1.3 Billion people!
The number of people with an allergy increases every year, particularly among children. This increase is caused by a combination of factors. A common theory is that we pay so much attention to hygiene in our lives that our immune system is insufficiently 'stimulated', while this stimulation is necessary to 'harden' the immune system. A great many factors appear to be involved, the most important of which are discussed below.
The strong increase in hygiene in our modern society appears to play an important role in inducing allergies. At birth, our immune system is still entirely 'pristine'. As it becomes exposed to all manner of foreign and harmful agents while the body grows, it is activated and strengthened. Of course, our resistance is not stimulated nearly as much as it used to be in the past, as we are living in much cleaner surroundings. It is increasingly likely that the more 'hygienically' children are raised, the more prone they are to developing an allergy. A good example are children who grow up on farms: they generally have very few allergies at a later age.
Read more about allergies here: http://www.hal-allergy.com/allergy/cause/
HAL Allergy is a modern company with high quality pharmaceutical GMP manufacturing and research facilities located in the Leiden Bio Science Park. With offices in seven European countries, we are one of the top European players in the field of allergy diagnostic and treatment. Since 1959 we have gained experience in developing, producing and selling allergy therapies for the treatment and prevention of allergic diseases. These immunotherapies are used primarily against common allergies such as hay fever, house dust mite allergy and allergic reactions towards wasp or bee stings.