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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Drinking From The Garden Hose and Other Fallacies

I've read two articles this week on our weakening immunity. One study in England suggests that the reason there's been a rise in nut allergies in children is because we've insulated them too much from a varied diet.

Another study from Norway (I think) says that we disinfect ourselves so much that we've become vulnerable to even minor bugs.


I think there's a lot of truth in these findings. When I was growing up there were only a few token children with allergies. Greg suffered from egg and chocolate allergies, but I suspect they might've been induced by his parents' monumental cigarette habit.

I know for the short time I had to live in their home, I was constantly sick--me--the girl who never got sick. Poor Greg thought he had married a defective wife. It wasn't until later that we put two and two together. Once we moved away, I was back to my normal self.

By the way, Greg grew out of his allergies. Was it because he also moved out of his parents' home? We'll never know.

My mother who grew up in Mexico during the 30s drank unfiltered water. Yet any tourist knows not to touch the stuff.

My first year in Texas, I came down with poison ivy. Worse. Rash. Ever. Even the doctor said it was the worst case he'd ever seen. I was almost unrecognizable. 

Every year after that, I'd invariably come in contact with the vine, or the smoke when I burned brush. And every year I'd come down with poison ivy. 

At first, I'd go to the doctor for my dose pack of antihistamines, but as the years went by, I stopped going. The rash would be less prevalent and severe.

I still get poison ivy but it's more of a nuisance than an ailment.

I'm not sure what the answer is. None of us want to take chances with our health and we're almost paranoid when it comes to kids' health. 

We took more risks when I was a kid, but that's because our parents didn't know better. Now I wonder if they didn't do us a favor. 

What's been your experience? Do allergies run in your family? Did your parents or grandparents suffer many complaints?


32 comments:

B.E. Sanderson said...

Allergies do run in my family, but I managed to miss most of them and so did my daughter. :shrug: My oldest brother got the worst of it. I just grew up knowing not to get peanuts anywhere near my brother.

I don't know about allergies, but I do think the culture hasn't gotten so germophobic that we're actually limiting our own immune systems' ability to fight off stuff.

Angela Brown said...

Allergies run in my family as well. But I was the kid of a smoker and it's my kid with the nut allergies and other allergies to like... life lol! After my initial parental paranoid attack of keeping her from her allergens, I noticed she was more miserable. So over time I have allowed her a little exposure to things so she eventually can be less allergic.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

No allergies in our family though my son is somewhat intolerant of dairy and gluten. I've read lots of research that supports what you've said and goes further to claim that the children of farmers are nearly always allergen free because they'd exposed to dirt, dust, pollen and healthy diets.

Maria Zannini said...

BE: It does seem our ancestors were more resistant to bugs than we are today.

Every generation seems to lose a little more ground.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: That seems like a great way to do it. A little exposure over the long haul.

I think the British scientists in this study were attempting the same thing. They developed a patch that administered a little of the peanut allergen at a time to make the kids more tolerant of peanuts.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: I never heard that about farmers' children but that makes perfect sense. Good point!

Exposure is key, but the trick is keeping it just within tolerance levels so people build their immunity and not get sick from it.

Marianne Arkins said...

When I brought my kidlet home from the hospital at two days old, the first thing that happened was a big, sloppy kiss from Bailey. Between the dog, the cat and the fact I'm not a germaphobe, she was seldom isolated from much of anything. In fact, as a thumbsucker, when she started crawling she'd end up with pet fur on her thumb, and then in her mouth no matter how often I vacuumed. She got to where she'd come over to me, stick out her tongue so I could scrape off the fur and then go on her merry way.

She's nearly 16 y.o. now and to this day I still don't know if she's allergic to antibiotics -- she's never ever been sick with anything more than a cold. Every doctor is shocked when I say she's never had an ear infection. I'm a big proponent of building an immune system by exposure. It seems to have worked for us :-)

Mike Keyton said...

We played alot in dirt. It seems to have worked - or we've been lucky :)

DRC said...

lol Mike. We played in dirt too and are fine. I'm rarely ill (touch wood)

I agree that if you wrap a child up too much, it'll weaken their immune systems. And plus, the more medication you take, the more your body gets used to it and it stops working. I rarely take painkillers unless I absolutely have too, and so the weaker strength ones work fine for me, but with my other half, who had to progress to the stronger kill-your-liver-and-kidneys-off-type, the weaker ones won't even touch him.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I grew up on a farm. I don't know if that had anything to do with my lack of allergies or not, but I don't even really get hayfever. For me to have an allergic reaction, the pollen has to be so thick that everyone is laid low.

I do have a variety of other ailments, and I blame all the crap that goes into our food.

Maria Zannini said...

Marianne: I think that kiss from Bailey was lifetime immunity. :)

That's the best kind.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: You ought to be good for a lifetime as long as you don't jump in front of a bus.

Maria Zannini said...

DRC: The problem with antibiotics too is that it doesn't matter if you don't take them, it's that the bacteria itself has mutated and become immune. That's why doctors fear the super bug, the one today's drugs can't fight.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara:
Re: food
That brings up a whole other barrel of problems. So many foods are GMO or so full of antibiotics that it ceases to be real food anymore.

I understand why producers have gone this route. There's no other way for them to supply 7 billion people with food, but the long term cost is going to be just as cruel when the reaper asks for payment.

LD Masterson said...

I do think there is a correlation between over-protection and hyper-sensitivity. When I had my first born, I was the typical obsessive new mother. Nothing went in that child's mouth that hadn't been sterilized (which was pretty painful considering I was breastfeeding). By the time son number two came along, it was pick up the pacifier off the ground, wipe it on my jeans, and stick it back in his mouth. Guess which child came down with every possible infection and which one was never sick.

Stacy McKitrick said...

No allergies in my family (and I grew up with smokers, too).

Afraid I wasn't much of an obsessive clean-freak parent, either. My house was (and still is) a mess and my kids survived just fine. They also grew up with pets in the house. Hmmm... maybe that's the difference.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Tons of allergies run in our family - I have the worst number of them, and my kids both have some of them. My parents smoked when I was a kid, but I know that my grandparents didn't and they had allergies, too. I'm not sure there's a simple easy-fits-all answer. (oh, and I definitely drank out of a garden hose as a kid)

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Lots of allergies in the family but I never had any until I moved to Florida, and into a house, where I did yard work. But the worse. The fire ants. Didn't have those in El Paso. The first years the SOBs made me sick. They don't even much blister up any longer, and they certainly don't leave scars that remain for ten years. The blasted things. So it's good the body can adjust to things...better when you're younger, I think.

Jackie Burris said...

Maria growing up was exposed to lots of "nasties", dirt, pet hair, pet wastes, chickens, cows, horses, goats, climbed trees and even ate some of the sap off mesquites that hardened into nodules and were crunchy if not exactly sweet like maple syrup that it looked like.

After growing up still exposed to dirt working outside in yard, still exposed to all kinds of things my pets either excreted or carried on their fur and of course my allergies did not exist.

Than in mid 20's moved east of Austin for the first time, went to work in an office and was only outside on the weekends. First major allergy was cedar fever from the tree pollen, than became slowly more allergic to certain perfumes, certain cleaning chemicals and other strong smelling agents.

Now take generic Zyrtec every day as we live where the pine tree pollen, the cedar pollen, the indoor pet dander and any strong chemical including laundry detergents set me off. Guess being exposed built up my immunity, but most of the past say 14 years has been spent indoors more and more and the past 2 almost all the time indoors due to being unable to walk on uneven surfaces anymore.

My parents had trouble later in life for much the same reason I think, indoor recycled air combined with indoor dog and cats do not make for healthy combination.

My grandparents have no idea.

Jenny Schwartz said...

I'd hate to try your poison ivy allergy-reduction method, Maria. But I probably would :) Some things you can't avoid.

I get allergies to something pollen-ish in spring. I'd blame me, except I suspect it's different trees planted over the years, and there's something new-to-me that triggers things.

And Jackie, I hear you on strong perfumes. They're terrible!

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: I hear that story from mothers all the time. After my mother had her sixth, she couldn't wait to get back to work. LOL.

At least now she had plenty of helpers.

Now that I think of it, that kid brother of mine is probably the healthiest of the bunch of us.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: I didn't know kids even had allergies when I was growing up. The closest I came to knowing someone 'different' was a friend of mine who had to give himself insulin shots. I was fascinated that he could be so brave.

Maria Zannini said...

Tyrean: Welcome, Tyrean!

I know, right? If there was one size fits all, life would be too easy.

Sometimes it's all down to DNA and luck.

Maria Zannini said...

Mac: Oh, Mac! You have my sympathies. I'm on a first name basis with fire ants. They're very prevalent in SE Texas.

They used to blister up on me, but now they just itch for a while and go away. But, owie! Those first couple of years.

I don't think we have them in north Texas, but then I haven't gone looking for them either. I'm still fighting off the scorpions.

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: I never thought about the recycled air, both in the office and home. Good point!

I know in my office, if one person got sick, you're almost doomed to get half the office down with the crud too.

Once a year I like to throw open the doors, take out all the carpets, and give everything a good airing.

Almost time for that now.

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: (and Jackie)

Perfumes! Agh! There's nothing that gives me a headache quicker. It's the heavy floral scents that really give me migraines too. I don't know why.

Re: trees
Yup. If you have stuff blooming all the time, you almost can't catch a break.

Re: conditioning
I don't recommend it, but somebody had to tear out the poison ivy and that job usually fell to me. At least it doesn't kill me like it used to.

Darke Conteur said...

I don't understand it either. Sithboy was exposed to animal hair, cigarette smoke, dirt, dust, fresh air, and Godess know what else. I knew two people when I was a teen who had food alergies. One was alergic to peanuts, the other, just about everything, and they went to public school and the school NEVER did anything to accommodate them, and as far as I know they both survived school.

I wonder if it does have something to do with the way food is made now. So much of it is processed. I was discussing this with my mother the other day. With all the perservatives they put in processed food, I wonder if the chemical cocktail has somehow damaged our immune system or altered it? You can't deny that in the last 20 years, the market for pre-made meals has grown a thousand fold, and children have become more sensitive to foods, obesity being a result maybe of too much processed food in their diet? Problem is, those same foods that are easier are less expensive than fresh food.

Rebekah Loper said...

I have indoor/seasonal allergies that have followed me around no matter what lifestyle/living situations I change, so alas, I think those are just there.

Also, I tend to have more medication allergies than any problems with foods, though I do notice I have some food sensitivities, especially to things that tend to be highly-inflammatory. Like white flour and sugar. I keep telling myself that somehow, someday, I'm going to completely eliminate those from my diet.

Yeah, right. I think the best I can hope for is to only indulge occasionally.

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: Interesting that the school didn't do anything to accommodate them. I wonder if we're overcompensating nowadays.

We didn't do anything special for our diabetic friend, other than not push him while he was trying to give himself his shot. :)

Re: chemical cocktail
Okay. I am totally stealing that. :)


That's exactly what our processed food is like.

Maria Zannini said...

Rebekah: I didn't consider medication allergies. I have those too. I generally do better on low doses of medicine. Too much and I get sick as the proverbial dog.

Raelyn Barclay said...

I've never used antibacterial soaps for this reason. The only reason I have hand sanitizer in the car is for emergencies.

We don't use bottled water, the hose and tap were good enough for That Man and me growing up and it is good enough for the wee beasties.

If I didn't have to vaccinate the boys for school there are a number I'd elect not to vaccinate against :cough: chickenpox :cough:

So, my dear, you are preaching to the choir!

In fact, scent sensitivity came up just today at work. She-who-must-not-be-named loves those plug-in scents. At least two co-workers have suffered increased headaches since. We were talking about the chemicals etc. in those things and how they can't be doing anyone any good. We'll see if our little uprising (we tossed 'em) is noticed next week.

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: I keep those Wet Wipes in the car. After a visit to the grocery store or touching the nozzle of a gas hose, I cringe at the kinds of bacteria on everything we touch.

Re: scents
I understand completely. I'm not opposed to scents, but I don't want them to overpower the oxygen in the room. :D