50% of U.S. Population Has Allergies, Most Don't Realize It & Suffer Unnecessarily ... Do You?
© 2014 Health Realizations, Inc.
If you live in the United States, chances are you have allergies. At least, that's the finding from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III).
It found that 54.3 percent of Americans between the ages of 6 and 59 tested positive to one or more allergens. A positive test also means that the person has a greater risk of asthma, hay fever and eczema.
While it would seem that, with so many people suffering from allergies, we would be well prepared as a population to handle them and know their causes, this is not the case.
Staying indoors when pollen counts are high is one of the best ways to prevent allergy symptoms.
Americans Fail Allergy Awareness
When it comes to allergy awareness, triggers, symptoms, prevention and treatment, the American population received largely failing grades, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's (AAFA) first National Allergy Awareness Test.
Says Mike Tringale, director of marketing and communications at AAFA, "When it comes to our health, we need to strive to do better than average. To raise the allergy grade, Americans need to learn how to manage symptoms so allergies do not impact their quality of life, by disrupting daily activities or preventing attendance at important events."
Some of the most important findings of the survey, which included over 1,000 Americans, were:
Only 28 percent of allergy sufferers reported they were "very knowledgeable" about their allergies.
Most people are unaware of less talked about allergy triggers, like cockroaches.
Although most people believe their allergy symptoms are controllable, eight out of ten reported that allergies disrupt their lives.
Nearly half (49 percent) of allergy sufferers wait until symptoms occur to take action, rather than using preventative measures.
Most Common Allergens
According to NHANES III, the top four most common allergens include:
About 25 percent of Americans tested positive to each one. Least common was the peanut, with only 9 percent reacting positively.
As for food allergies, the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network says that eight foods account for 90 percent of all food-related allergic reactions:
Fall Season is Ripe for Allergies
Some people face worse allergy flare-ups in the fall than the spring.
While most people know that spring is the prime time for allergies to flourish, many do not realize that sniffling, sneezing, congestion and wheezing in the fall may be due to allergies, not a cold.
"Unfortunately, seasonal allergies are not just about springtime. In some cities, the pollination of different plants, changing weather and other environmental factors can cause a greater impact for allergy sufferers during the fall than in the spring," said Derek Johnson, MD, an allergist at Temple University Medical Center and a medical advisor to AAFA.
Tips to Combating Allergies
No matter what the season, one of the best ways to fight allergies is with prevention. And, the following tips can help keep allergy flare-ups from occurring at all.
When pollen and mold counts are high, spend more time indoors.
Keep windows closed to keep pollen out.
Wash bedding once a week in hot water--it will help get rid of dust mites and other allergy triggers.
Keep your home as dust-free as possible.
If you spend time outside, change your clothes and wash your hair when you come inside to remove pollen and other allergens.
Filter your home's air--many allergic reactions are triggered by airborne particles.
If pet dander is a problem for you, keep pets out of the bedroom (or don't get any pets to begin with).
Use dehumidifiers in basements and other damp areas of your home where mold could grow, and be sure to clean them once a week.
Tips for Food Allergies
Fighting food allergies can be a bit trickier, as hidden ingredients, particularly wheat and peanuts, can be anywhere. Be sure to read food labels carefully and if you eat out, let the server know that you absolutely cannot have certain ingredients.
Also, check out "The Food Allergy Survival Guide Book,"which can be insightful for anyone with food allergies.
Learn what your food triggers might be, how to avoid them, easy-to-use alternatives, and even great-tasting allergen-free recipes.
Eurek Alert: When it Comes to Allergies, Americans Don't Make the Grade
The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
Allergy Action Plan