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The New Allergy Solution: Supercharge Resistance, Slash Medication, Stop Suffering Hardcover – March 21, 2017
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About the Author
Clifford W. Bassett, M.D., FACAAI, FAAAAI, is the founder and medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York. He serves on the faculty of the New York University School of Medicine and the Weill Cornell Medical College, and is a clinical assistant professor of medicine and otolaryngology at SUNY Health Sciences Center in Brooklyn. One of U.S. News and World Report’s Top Doctors, Dr. Bassett is featured regularly on and in local and national media outlets, including CBS This Morning, Today, Good Morning America, NPR, The New York Times, and Time. He lives in New York City.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
We are in the midst of an allergy explosion. An estimated 30 percent of Americans, or roughly 100 million people, suffer from allergy and asthma; a Gallup study puts the figure at 50 percent. Globally, allergy affects 20 to 40 percent of the population. The rate in urban environments has increased for the past half century. In the United Kingdom, it’s estimated that up to half of all kids suffer from some allergic condition. Once upon a time, you knew a few people with allergies, maybe more than that if your family or neighbors were genetically unlucky enough to have a disposition (more on the genetics of allergy in chapter 2). Now? Probably you know, or know of, five to ten times that number. While many are born wired for their allergic condition, it may be that the environments we now inhabit, both outdoor and in, the behaviors we engage in, the products we use, and the foods we consume have all changed enough in a short time that we are confronted by a genuinely new reality.
The uptick has occurred not just in one or two kinds of allergy. It spans the spectrum. It’s seen in seasonal allergies and allergic respiratory disease, including asthma. Between 2001 and 2009, the number of Americans diagnosed with asthma grew by over 5 million, across all demographics. It’s seen in food allergies. The CDC says that food allergy in children rose by half again, between 1997 and 2011. The rate of peanut allergy doubled in the last decade. The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported a 700 percent rise over the last decade in allergic reactions among European kids.
Why is this happening? In many cases, allergy “triggers”—the source of the scourge, exposure to which sets off an immune system reaction ranging from unpleasant to activity-limiting to debilitating to deadly—have gotten bigger, badder, and way more prevalent. Ragweed, the central culprit behind fall hay fever for those residing in regions with seasonal climates, is growing faster and bigger in many places, and blooming longer, with more pollen per plant and possibly more potent allergic potential. Combine this with other environmental troubles, such as human-generated air pollutants, and it creates a potential synergistic, amplified impact on your health.
Poison ivy today can be found more widely, and it’s generally bigger and more potent, too. Even our mix of trees has altered the (allergy) landscape. In 1950, the native American elm, once the most popular “street tree” in neighborhoods across the United States and other countries, was a modest shedder of insect-transported pollen. But then Dutch elm disease ravaged the elm population, killing off billions—yes, billions —of these trees in the 1960s and ’70s. Among their replacements were hardwood species like London plane sycamore and Norway maple, and a greater proportion of male trees, selected largely because they shed less, making it easier to keep streets, sidewalks, and yards clean—but they also produced more allergenic, wind-conveyed pollen. Says renowned horticulturist and author Tom Ogren, “In many areas today, tree pollen makes up more than 70 percent of the total urban pollen load.”
Wasps, whose stings can cause allergic reaction ranging from swelling of the skin to hives to potentially deadly anaphylaxis, arrive earlier in the season and stay later. Fire ants, mostly a fixture in the South, seem over the past decade and a half to be moving gradually north and west. The mostly tropical triatoma, commonly called the kissing bug, is spreading northward. Mosquitoes are more prevalent in many areas, and their incubation time in certain regions has grown shorter. Of course, mosquitoes can cause harm far greater than allergic itching and swelling, such as West Nile virus, chikungunya, dengue fever, and the confounding, often devastating Zika, the last three of which are on the rise. Forests are flourishing in the eastern United States—good news, right?—but that contributes to an increase in the deer population, thus an increase in deer ticks and cases of Lyme disease. In the last fifteen years, the number of annual Lyme cases in Canada has increased from roughly forty to seven hundred; two decades ago, ticks lived and reproduced in two areas in Canada, today in thirteen. The Lone Star tick, whose name bespeaks a southwestern habitat, is spreading north and east; its bite may trigger allergy to red meat, a particularly elusive condition to identify.
The reason behind much of what I’ve just chronicled is mostly climate change, or increases in extreme weather.” But climate change is hardly the only cause of the rise in allergy frequency, severity, and complexity. There are new threats in the air and water; in our food, homes, and offices; and on our bodies—our own “microenvironments”—that simply did not exist twenty or so years ago. These factors combine to make diagnosis more complicated. For example, people exposed to ozone plus ragweed allergen likely experience greater illness than those exposed to only one of the two—and it’s less simple to get at the root, or roots, of what’s going on. Our natural balance—by which I mean nature itself and our own individual nature—has been altered. When that happens, we may become overloaded, and an overreaction by the immune system becomes much more possible. A study by Quest Diagnostics shows that our rate of sensitization to common allergens—really, the first step in becoming allergic—has increased.
The range of increase in allergy is broad. So are the causes for the surge.
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Top Customer Reviews
Given the fact that the title uses the words 'new' and 'solution' you might be expecting --like me-- some bogus... or alternatively, New & Exciting remedy. BUT what you actually get is a really good book of explanations and approaches to combating allergies.
Dr. Bassett is my kind of doctor, by the way. He understands science. He understands that there are theories worth testing on an individual basis and he realizes that some of our current theories of allergies will be abandoned or modified in the future. Which is to say he's not at all flaky.
*Early exposure of little ones to peanuts is an example of where he is willing to engage newer research and help parents to decide whether this strategy is appropriate for their child. This new concept is based a study that looked at two very similar populations of a Jewish families in Great Britain and Israel. The young children in Israel were exposed to a peanutty snack that is popular there, and their incidence of peanut allergies is much lower than the UK children where peanuts are not as common. *With some medical guidance*, he sees no reason not to give this a try.
--What you'll find in this book is the latest scientific understanding of allergies. This includes some of the latest thinking about why allergies exist at all.
--You will get some vocabulary and approaches that will help you to discuss your allergies with your doctor.
--There are some lists and questions to help you identify what you know about allergies. As well you will get some good material that pretty much shows that if it exists, someone somewhere will be allergic to it.
--This book covers Indoor and Outdoor allergies. It covers food and environmental allergies--be they organic or inorganic.
There are solutions covered in this book and they range from neti pots to meds to yoga to psychologically destressing and more. There is information to help you decide whether you are being bothered by allergies or an illness. This book covers indoor and outdoor allergies and it gives strategies for dealing with the symptoms, and actually desensitizing yourself to your allergen.
I found it to be a useful resource that I'm going to keep on the family shelves.
Warning: Packed with useful facts and info, such as:
--Many nasal allergy sufferers have nighttime sleep disturbances.
--Teenage girls are more at risk for asthma than boys because of hormonal changes (even though teenage boys also have said hormonal changes).
--That is why we need more female trees (see page 93).
--If you're curious about how allergy-provoking a plant is, there's a scale for that: the Ogren Plant Allergy Scale (OPALS).
--The NASA Clean Air Study provides a list of houseplants that filter allergens from indoor air.
--Handheld meters measure moisture levels in the home and may help to measure Alternaria mold in the home (the most common type of mold that affects people.)
--The majority of those who suffer from eczema have another type of allergy (hay fever or asthma). This has been true for your reviewer.
--A Nickel Test Kit can detect whether your cell phone case contains nickel and is making you itch.
--Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is triggered by plants.
--Eating more n-3 fatty acids (flaxseed, etc) is associated (in one study) with a lowered risk of allergy sensitization and allergic rhinitis.
--Yoga breathing techniques such as Pranayama and Buteyko can help relieve allergies and stress.
Warning: This book is humorous at times with cute headings in text boxes that break up the technical information. The book is well-designed with lots of lists and a quiz.
Warning: this book is full of common sense and doesn't automatically embrace a magic pill or the "hygiene hypothesis," i.e. that we wash our hands too much and that is why we have increased allergens. It recognizes the nuances of our world, the upsides of progress as well as the downsides ("There is no free lunch. In fact, it now turns out that that lunch may contain some food that makes you or your child break out") and adapts. It also discusses introducing potential allergens such as peanuts into children's diet early (we have a peanut allergy sufferer in the family so this is an important subject).
Warning: this book requires lifestyle modifications and awareness. It's a holistic/scientific and investigative approach to health.
Warning: this book is essential as health reference.
Those who have little to know real insight or knowledge of symptoms would find the "Defining the Terms: Diagnosing the Problem" chapter with its charts and lists a good place to begin to identify the type of allergy and possible causes.
The chapters on Skin Allergies and Indoor Environment were particularly useful to me as I have those types of allergies.
The discussion of prevention (Who even knew there were three types of prevention?) in the chapter: "What Does Prevention Look Like"?" helped me gain a bit of perspective and the Third Section (New Ways) helped educate me on the future of allergy management.
This book covers a lot of ground, but it is structured in a way that it's easy to find what you may need and to quickly dig in to find personally relevant information. I don't know why others are saying it's primarily about food allergies. It covers much more than that topic.
FYI: I was given an advance copy that did not have an index. I am sure that will be a very helpful feature.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The encouraging part of the interview was that the author definitely thinks outside of the box...Read more