Dubai: Being too clean could be the reason why so many people in the UAE are suffering from allergies. Doctors and nutritionists in Dubai have confirmed a rise in the number of people complaining from allergies with ‘hygiene hypothesis’ being the main theory behind the allergies.
The Union Medical Centre in Karama has seen an average of 10 to 12 patients a day suffering from allergy cases in December, while the Dubai Herbal Treatment Centre in Dubai has recorded an estimated 60 to 80 patients visiting the centre every month complaining of food allergies alone.
Allergies are specific and recurring unpleasant immune responses that are triggered by natural substances such as foods, pollens or other influences in our surroundings. With different kinds of allergies on the rise, Gulf News spoke to nutritionist Victoria Tipper at Dubai Herbal Treatment Centre to find out the reason.
While there are still uncertainties regarding the exact cause of allergies, the hygiene hypothesis theory looks at how increased levels of hygiene and the overuse of antibiotics may affect allergies, explained Tipper.
The theory maintains due to excessive cleanliness our immune system is not allowed to fully mature as it should when we are children. “We are no longer being exposed to infectious bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms such as the good bacteria needed for a healthy gut, because everything around us is so clean,” said Tipper. She pointed out that what many people may not know is that in order for our immune system to fully develop into a less allergic system, we need exposure to microbes.
Being overly hygienic however, is not the only reason behind developing an allergy.
Usually, the body’s immune system fights against foreign bodies such as bacteria and viruses to keep it safe. However, people with allergies have a hypersensitive immune system, which treats the substance they are allergic to (the allergen) as a foreign body, producing antibodies such as immunoglobulin E (IgE), explained Tipper. “These antibodies (IgE) then attach to mast cells in the body and this causes a release of certain chemicals such as histamines, which causes the symptoms of an allergic response,” she said… see more