This April marks Allergy Awareness Week – and with an estimated 21 million allergy sufferers in the UK, you’re bound to know someone living with one. Plus the new season’s colours and trends.
Backed by Allergy UK, Allergy Awareness Week 2017 (25th April-1st May) aims to raise awareness about allergies and highlight the difficulties people with allergies experience.
There are an estimated 21 million allergy sufferers here in the UK. Anybody living with an allergy, whether it is their own, their child’s or their partner’s, will know how big an impact it can have on everyday lives.
Simply put, an allergy is the response of the body’s immune system to normally harmless substances, such as pollens, foods, and house dust mites. Whilst in most people these substances (allergens) pose no problem, in allergic individuals their immune system identifies them as a “threat” and produces an inappropriate response.
Each year the number of us suffering an allergy is increasing, with as many as half of all those affected being children.
Children born into families where allergies already exist have a higher than average chance of developing allergies themselves. In the UK today, children have a one in five predisposition to develop an allergy. However, that risk is doubled if one parent has an allergy (particularly if that parent is the mother). If both parents have allergies, the risk is increased to 60-80%. This increased tendency for individuals to develop allergies because of their genes is known as being atopic.
What causes allergies
Not only can the symptoms be unpleasant and distressing, but identifying and avoiding triggers can be hit-and-miss too.
Allergic reactions are caused by substances in the environment, which are known as allergens. Almost anything can be an allergen for someone. Proteins are organic substances that contain hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, and form an important part of all living organisms. They are also found in food, along with fats, carbohydrates and other substances. However, only proteins can cause true allergic reactions.
The most common causes of allergic reactions are:
• Pollen from trees and grasses.
• Proteins secreted from house dust mites.
• Foods such as peanuts, milk and eggs.
• Pets such as cats and dogs, and other furry or hairy animals such as horses, rabbits and guinea pigs.
• Medicines (these may cause reactions by binding to proteins in the blood, which then trigger the reaction).
• Insects such as wasps and bees.
At the very serious end of the allergy scale, an allergic reaction isn’t just something that might make somebody very uncomfortable or unwell, but is a very real threat to their safety.
The number of people, including children, arriving at hospital with severe allergic reactions has been steadily rising. Quick and appropriate treatment means the vast majority will make a full recovery, but according to NHS figures, there are still around 20 anaphylaxis related deaths each year.
Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to a trigger such as an allergy. It’s also known as anaphylactic shock. It usually develops suddenly and gets worse very quickly.
• Feeling light headed or faint.
• Breathing difficulties, such as fast, shallow breathing.
• A fast heartbeat.
• Clammy skin.
• Confusion and anxiety.
• Collapsing or losing consciousness.
• There may also be other allergy symptoms, including an itchy, raised rash (hives), feeling or being sick, swelling (angioedema), or stomach pain.
Flicker of hope
There’s nothing like the gentle flicker of a candle flame, its warmth and sweet smelling fragrance slowly filling your home evoking feelings of peace and wellness. But what if this luxury was to cause irreversible damage to the health of your family, would you still bask in its glow?
Known simply as a candle allergy it’s not uncommon to hear of violent sneezing, headaches and even trouble breathing around traditional paraffin candles, the predominant wax used in the candle industry.
So what’s the alternative? The answer is simply soy.
Soy candles naturally burn cleaner and slower, that is to say, they have a lower melting point, compared to that of paraffin. In doing so, soy candles produce a clean non-toxic burn that has been proven to produce negligible amounts of soot and release no known carcinogens into the air.
Those with soy allergies are also safe with soy candles as allergic reactions to soy are credited to the digestion of soy protein and not the by-products of the combustion process. When soy wax is burnt, the protein chains are broken and are no longer the same molecules that cause the allergy. Therefore contrary to popular belief, allergy sufferers are not prohibited from enjoying wonderfully scented soy candles!
• Choose candles made with essential oils. Those people who react poorly to artificial fragrances do not have problems with candles that use essential oils.
• When possible, choose single note fragrances over those that contain multiple scents. A single fragrance, because it is less complex, may be less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
• Always burn candles in a well-ventilated area.
• Only burn richly scented candles for a short time or consider using a candle warmer to subtly disperse the scent.
• It may sound simple but simply switching from paraffin to soy candles can make all the difference to the quality of the air in your home.
• For more information on soy candles, visit www.tinycandleco.uk