By Bill Gottlieb
24 million American children and adults suffer
, which is when the respiratory “pipes” (bronchi) that carry air in and out of the lungs are inflamed and spasm. And every year, the disease sends more than 1.8 million people to the hospital, killing nearly 4,000 with severe, choking asthma attacks.
Fifty percent of people with asthma have attacks triggered by allergens, such as molds, dust mites and animal dander. Of course, you can have allergies without asthma. You can have hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis), which is when your immune system mistakes pollen from grass, trees or weeds for a foreign invader and revs up its defenses, triggering sneezing, red and itchy eyes, a stuffed and runny nose, and fatigue.
But whether you have asthma or asthma and allergies or just allergies, you may have noticed your condition is getting worse. The
rates of asthma have increased
over the past 25 years—the number of people with asthma has increased fourfold and the number of deaths from asthma attacks has doubled. And people with hay fever are noticing that every allergy season seems like the worst ever.
What’s happening? Many studies show the increase in allergies could be due to changes in the environment. This slideshow shows six reasons why more people might be feeling the affects of allergies:
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate