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The Dirty Secret About Allergies

Kids may need to get a pet and spend more time playing outdoors to protect themselves against allergies. (Mike Baca)
Kids may need to get a pet and spend more time playing outdoors to protect themselves against allergies. (Mike Baca)
April 5, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - All the runny noses and itchy eyes tell us it's allergy season in Arkansas.

From April to June, grass pollen causes problems for many, then, come fall it will be ragweed and other plants shedding pollen that cause misery. If it seems like more people have allergies than ever, that is indeed the case.

Dr. Bill Miller is a blogger and author of The Microcosm Within, and studies causes of allergies.

He says the problem is, we're too clean. He and other researchers call it the "Hygiene Hypothesis." Miller says we've upset the balance of germs inside us by protecting ourselves more than our ancestors did.

"They had the cows and the goats and all the pigs and everything," says Miller. "The family unit lived right on top of the farm animals. Kids used to roll in the dirt; kids spent almost all their day outside. Now in our modern society, we live indoors."

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology cites research that suggests early antibiotic use changes the bacterial flora, which impacts the development of allergic diseases like asthma.

Other studies suggest we may be using too many products like acetaminophen to treat children.

Miller says we need to back away a little from hand sanitizers and antibiotics.

"Are antibiotics the problem? No, they're wonder drugs," he says. "They're one of the greatest inventions in all of world history but we're using them so commonly that we're having unintended side affects."

Miller says we're upsetting the natural balance in our bodies, and is convinced that doctors need to stand their ground and not give out prescriptions so easily.

"I was taught to use antibiotics when you should," Miller says. "But, that said, as a front-line physician I can tell you that there's a lot of pressure on doctors to offer antibiotics to patients or to parents for their young children, because there's such a profound belief that they do the trick."

Miller believes kids should play with other kids, and should have a pet early in life, because exposure to other germs can help them avoid allergies later in life.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - AR