An allergic reaction is occurs when a person’s immune system reacts to substances in the environment (allergen) that are harmless to most people. The most common allergies in Western countries are eczema, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), and asthma. Recent years have seen a particularly rapid rise in the prevalence of allergic disorders. Worldwide, 15-30% of children and 2-10% of adults have atopic eczema, and allergic rhinitis occurs in 10-20% of the population.
Increase allergies recent years
It is not entirely clear why allergies have appeared with increasing frequency in recent years. Different theories have put forward Western lifestyles, environmental factors, and greater hygiene as possible causes. The hygiene hypothesis suggests that in recent decades more allergies have arisen because people have been in reduced contact with a variety of microbes.
Diversity of intestinal bacteria
At the same time, in recent years scientists have been discovering more and more about the role of the intestinal microbiome in the development of the immune system. A large diversity of intestinal bacteria is vital to the optimal function of the immune system. An unfavorable composition of the intestinal microbiome appears to play a role in the rise of hyper reactivity and inflammatory disease, including allergic disorders. Several research studies have shown that reduced diversity in the intestinal microbiome raises the risk of atopic eczema.
It is generally impossible to avoid allergens altogether, and treatment options for allergies are limited. Most treatment focuses on the control of symptoms. In recent years scientists have therefore made efforts to identify new ways of treating and preventing allergic conditions. Since intestinal microbiota play an important role in regulating the immune system, probiotics form an interesting therapeutic option. Recent scientific studies on the use of probiotics as a supplementary therapy for allergic conditions, such as eczema and hay fever, have shown positive results.
Thus, a potential approach to manage allergic symptoms could be the administration of specifically selected probiotic strains.