In fact, one in three people in the UK suffer from some form of allergy. Each year there is an increase of 5% in those reporting allergic reactions and as many as half of these are children.
In the USA, it is estimated that there are well over 35 million people who experience allergies of one kind or another.
Exactly why allergies appear to be increasing so rapidly is something of an enigma.
Some researches believe that it is because we are becoming too sanitized. They suggest that because we live in an increasingly germ-free environment, our immune systems are under-exposed to germs and allergens so that we fail to build up a defence to these triggers as we grow and develop. Our immune system then over-reacts to these things when it is exposed to them.
Other experts believe that allergies are simply the result of the increasing pollution that the world is experiencing.
Yet in spite of quite extensive research into the reason why we are becoming more susceptible to allergies, the verdict is out. All that can be truly said is that more research is needed.
In the majority of cases, allergies are more of a highly uncomfortable inconvenience than anything else. But in exceptional cases, an allergic reaction can be so severe as to be a real threat to life.
Because of this, if you or someone you care about is experiencing a severe allergic reaction then the very first thing to do, of course, is to visit a doctor or medical advisor in a hurry.
The most common allergy symptoms are quite well known and include rashes, itching, sore eyes, runny nose, sneezing, wheezing and coughing.
Allergies are triggered when the individual comes into contact with an allergen. Simply put, this is any substance that produces an allergic reaction. Almost anything can be an allergen. It all depends on the individual.
The 3 most common allergens, however, are dust mites, pollen and nuts.
Other allergens include medicines, chemicals, and pets such as cats and dogs.
With food allergies, however, it is estimated that about 90% of all allergic reactions can be attributed by just 7 items: peanuts, nuts, wheat, seafood, eggs, milk and soy products
Most of us, of course, have no problem when we come into contact with these things. Our body’s natural defence system just seems to handle them automatically and we are able to cope without any real difficulty.
But with the allergic person, this is just not the case.
For the person experiencing an allergic reaction, an allergen is incorrectly identified as a threat. This causes the immune system to flood the body with powerful – and usually inflammatory – chemicals called antibodies in order to fight off and destroy this perceived threat.
It is this process and the release of these antibodies that cause the actual allergic reaction and those troublesome symptoms.
Contact with an allergen may occur through the mouth, nose, lungs, stomach or skin.
A very useful strategy when it comes to dealing with allergies is to keep some form of diary or journal. In it you could note your observations about the history of the problem.
Write down and record when it first appeared. Is it connected to any other situation or thought process that makes it more severe? When did you experience the worst allergic reactions? What were you doing? What was happening at that particular time in your life?
You might even enlist the help of your family in order to obtain greater insight and clarity for those early years of your life. It can be surprising how much those close to us can recall and notice things that we ourselves have forgotten or overlooked.
The reason for such a diary is to enable you to get a clearer picture and greater understanding of the condition as it relates to you personally. Note how many times anxiety, fear and tension have made the condition worse.
The next stage might be to either learn self-hypnosis or to work with a suitably qualified hypnotherapist, so that you can strengthen your immune system and aid your subconscious to control the triggers that cause the allegic reaction.
In hypnosis, powerful post hypnotic suggestions can be delivered to the subconscious mind that can help it respond in a better, more helpful manner when in the presence of allergens and triggers.
Hypnosis and hypnotherapy will probably not produce an overnight, miraculous cure of your allergy. But with patience, you can programme your subconscious mind to work for you so that you can experience real relief from the ongoing agony of allergies.
Peter Field is a leading figure in the field of British hypno-psychotherapy, with clinics in London and Birmingham, England. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Health and Member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. For more of his interesting and informative articles please visit his website: Peter Field Hypnotherapy Hypnosis Birmingham & London UK