Do you think parents affect whether a person develops allergies? The horizontal axis now shows whether the visitor’s parents had allergies or not. Scientists have found that people are more likely to have allergies if their parents did as well. The genes you inherited can influence how susceptible you are. The shaded boxes show where we would expect to see the most data points. Do our Museum visitor data show the same pattern?
During the attack
Whether it is a mild rash, a sneeze, or a scary, full-body shock, an allergic reaction is your body trying to protect itself. Your immune system is helpful when it is fighting things that can hurt you, but when it reacts to substances that would not normally hurt you, it causes an allergic reaction. Common allergens include foods, plants, and animal dander, but you can be allergic to anything your immune system does not recognize.
Growing allergy problem
Scientists do not know exactly why allergies are on the rise, but they are exploring many different hypotheses. Exposure to fewer microbes when we are young may limit the development of our immune systems. Another theory is concerned about an increase in pollutants and pollen in the air. These irritants can damage the body’s protective mucus membranes and may leave us exposed to more allergens. Are we developing more allergies because we are exposed to fewer pathogens than our ancestors were?