Lifestyle may have a large impact on how bad you suffer from allergies
More and more people seem to be suffering from allergies. High pollen counts in Middle Georgia can make any allergy sufferer's life miserable. But why are more people experiencing the sneezing and watery eyes? As it turns out, your lifestyle may play a major role.
Allergy prevention for sufferers like Elaine Hammock is a daily ritual. Even the simplest pleasures in life like a stroll in the park or opening a bedroom window on a cool night can be a nightmare.
"It's very aggravating and frustrating especially when you have the sneezing, the watery eyes, and you don't know why," said Hammock.
It was in 2002 that Hammock found out she was allergic to multiple species of trees, weeds and mold. And for anyone in Middle Georgia who experiences the sneezing, watery eyes and congestion, you're definitely not alone.
Dr. Bush: It's very difficult living in Middle Georgia. Our exposure to trees and grasses and molds and everything make us...most of us are allergic to something," said Doctor Seth Bush with Middle Georgia Pediatrics, LLC.
With springtime pollen so bad you can write your name on a car windshield, it's no wonder people like Hammock carry a line of defense everywhere they go.
"I keep the instructions in the bag in case anybody asks me," said Hammock.
These days, more people may be echoing Hammock's defense plan. In fact, lifestyle may play a large part in more people all of a sudden having allergies. Dr. Bush says a lot of hypotheses are out there, such as people not being exposed to enough germs like they used to be. Cleanliness may be a factor. And, kids growing up playing more inside than out could weaken a body's tolerance. A switch to the simple life for Hammock was all it took.
"I know I really realized mine when I moved from the city to the country, when I was actually more around of the outside and around more of the trees and the weeds," said Hammock.
But allergies can start at an early age and can run in the family. Food allergies are also on the rise, with an estimated 8 percent of children being allergic to some food. When you break down the science, it may seem like there's nothing you can do.
"When we are exposed to some type of substance whether it be dust or mold or cat or dog dander, our body makes an antibody, an IGE, to respond to that allergen. The more IGE we make, the more allergic we are to that offending agent," said Dr. Bush.
Antihistamines and nasal sprays may help temporarily, but according to Dr. Bush, it's like putting a Band-Aid on the problem.
"They treat the symptoms but they don't treat the underlying problem. To treat the underlying problem, you have to consider allergy shots," said Dr. Bush.
Shots will slowly build up the body's tolerance to different allergens. And as for Hammock, she now lives by her doctor's sound advice.
"You can't get in too big of a hurry. You have to make sure that you're well and do what the doctor tells you too, or why are you going to the doctor," said Hammock.
Dr. Bush says a skin prick or blood tests are the best methods to determine a specific allergy. Once you figure out what you're allergic to, alter your lifestyle to the specific allergy. For example, if you're allergic to pet dander, keep the pet outside. If it's dust, wash your bed sheets once a week.