Who gets hay fever?

I just returned from yoga where I spent an hour pretending to be a tree.  Don’t laugh, this is not as easy as it sounds.  In the spirit of the spring season, the teacher advised us to channel tree qualities into our practice.  This is hard to do while shaking and slipping on a yoga mat with 20 other sweaty people.  I chose the tree quality of grounding because I thought it meant I could lie down and root.  Not so — trees are not as lazy as they look.  Others chose flexibility, growth, adaptability and strength.  These were probably better choices as they speak more to the beauty of nature and what we should be striving toward as individuals.  Understandably,  no one chose the quality of making lots of people feel like they have a skull full of snot.  But sadly, this is one of the prevailing themes of spring.  Trees blooming and people’s immune systems over-reacting.

Who gets allergies?

1.  The short answer is anyone at anytime.  You can develop allergies – to seasonal allergens or to anything else — throughout your life.

2.  Genetics – There is a genetic link to allergies and if your close family members suffer from hay fever, your chance of having seasonal allergies is greater.

About 35 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies.  This is twice as many as just 20 years ago.  Why?  No one really knows but there are theories.

3.  Hygiene Hypothesis – This theory works very well with my poor housekeeping abilities.  The rest of you are all, simply, too clean.  The hypothesis is that all of our anti-bacterial vigilance is keeping children’s immune systems from necessary exposure to infectious agents and microorganisms.  Without this exposure early on, the immune system becomes weaker and less selective.  The evidence for this theory is that allergies and auto-immune diseases are much less common in developing countries where Purell is harder to come by.

4.  Increased pollution – Perhaps there is just too much dirt in the air and too many people on the ground?

5.  Global warming – When in doubt, blame global warming.  Someone please explain to my why I am still wearing a winter coat!

Additionally, asthma sufferers are at greater risk of both having hay fever and of having more severe symptoms.  Wheezing and bronchospasm are not uncommon in patients with asthma during times when the pollen count is high.  From a biochemical standpoint, the same things that put someone at high risk for asthma, put them at high risk for hay fever.

Yesterday, I was feeling some NSU.  Today I am better.  This is in large part to a friend of mine that pointed out to me that being social is just as attractive as being thin! Have I mentioned that I love good friends?

Tomorrow, treatment and prevention.

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