Allergies have become increasingly common in many parts of the world, including the United States. For many years, researchers speculated that the root cause of this trend was air pollution. But studies now suggest that the true culprit may be an overly sanitized lifestyle, in which children are exposed to far fewer germs than in previous decades. Studies on children show that those who attend day care or grow up on farms—both relatively microbe-rich environments—have fewer allergies than those who are not exposed to farm animals and lots of other children at an early age. As researchers learn more about the links between hygiene and allergies, they may recommend a lighter hand in the home with disinfectants and antibiotics. In the meantime, there is little one can do to prevent the development of allergies.
However, allergies can be treated and controlled. More information on this can be found in the sections on treating and managing hay fever.
Last reviewed on 08/19/2008
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