Allergic disease is on the rise in many western nations, with Australia having one of the highest allergy rates in the entire world. Around one in five Australians have at least one allergic disease, with numbers also high across the Tasman in New Zealand. People are increasingly searching for information and treatment options to help manage allergic conditions, through medication, natural supplements, and desensitisation.
All allergies are a type of inflammation that occurs when the body comes into contact with something specific in the environment. There are a wide range of allergies out there, including common conditions such as asthma, hay-fever, eczema, and allergic reactions to insects such as ants and bees. There are also a growing number of food allergies recorded around the world, with around 10 percent of Aussie and Kiwi children having some sort of food allergy.
The top eight food allergies in the world are dairy, eggs, shellfish, fish, tree nuts, soy, wheat, and peanuts. Different countries are affected more by certain food groups, with dairy, eggs, and peanuts causing the most concern in this part of the world. While many allergies can be self-diagnosed and easily managed, others can lead to serious life-threatening reactions like anaphylaxis and require immediate medical treatment.
While the word allergy is often used to describe intolerances or other bad reactions to food, a true allergic reaction always involves an inflammatory reaction that involves histamine and IgE. True allergic reactions usually occur quickly and are over within minutes, making them relatively easy to diagnose when compared with chronic and ongoing food intolerances.
Medication is required for some allergies, with popular treatments including antihistamines, corticosteroids, and bronchodilators. Anyone who has had anaphylaxis needs to take additional care, with adrenaline prescribed by many doctors for people to self-administer in case of a severe reaction. However, while many allergic conditions require ongoing or periodic medication, there are also a number of natural ways that people can manage their allergies over time.
Supplements such as probiotics are increasingly administered as a preventative step when dealing with seasonal allergies like hay-fever, due to how they influence the immune system. Herbs such as butterbur, a herbaceous perennial plant, are also thought to help allergy sufferers due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin C is also recommended by a number of natural health practitioners, due to its ability to prevent the formation of histamine, which is responsible for complaints like tearing, excess mucus, and a runny nose.
Desensitisation is also a method of managing allergic conditions, with people choosing to expose themselves to an allergen over a period of time. This process is called immunotherapy and is done either through injections or high doses of oral extracts under the tongue. While desensitisation can be expensive and does not always work, it is an option for people with bad allergies that have not responded to either conventional medical or holistic treatments.