I came across a study recently that I found personally frightening. Turns out foreign-born children who didn’t have allergies before coming to the States are likely to develop them after 10 years here. I was born in Singapore and have been in the States for almost 9 years now, which could apparently mean I only have one more year of easy breathing.
According to the researchers, allergic diseases are much more common in the US than other countries, so those of us who were foreign born start out with an advantage. But the longer we live in the States, the more that advantage fades away.
At the moment allergies are on the rise worldwide and in the US in particular, but we don’t know for sure why. One theory known as the hygiene hypothesis suggests that because we are now exposed to so many fewer microbes (thanks to hand sanitizers, vaccines, smaller family sizes, etc.) our immune systems don’t have to spend as much time fighting disease. So they fill their free time with annoying behaviors such as producing allergies to everything from dust to dairy.
Another reason for the rise in allergies may be that energy efficient doors and windows keep indoor allergens trapped inside. Plus, these days many children spend more time playing indoors than outdoors, increasing their exposure to these allergens.
Whatever the case, if this is to be my last year allergy-free I plan to enjoy it as much as possible. And if the allergies do hit, I can always fight back with a nebulizer.