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The Hygiene Hypothesis - Essay Example

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The concept of “The hygiene hypothesis” was first mentioned by David Strachan and it states that inadequate exposure of young children to pathogenic microorganisms (e.g. fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasitic microbes) and allergens hinders the normal development of a natural immunity. …
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The Hygiene Hypothesis
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Download file to see previous pages fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasitic microbes) and allergens hinders the normal development of a natural immunity. Consequently, this condition makes an individual to be vulnerable to infectious diseases and allergies. The hypothesis has been put forward as an explanation to the occurrence of many preventable diseases and allergic infections. The following is an analysis seeking to establish accuracy of the hypothesis with the use of a context that features several case studies in the world and the relevant deductions. Accordingly, it is important to note that the immune system develops from repeated attempts to keep off disease from the low level of pathogens found in a normal environment; as such, when the germs invade the body in life threatening amounts, the immune system successfully wards them off. The need for this exposure in developed nations some decades back saw to larger families than today. This is because parents believed that the elder child would expose the younger one(s) to pathogens, hence harden their immunity (Ascherio &Munge, 2007). It has also been observed that children who are taken to baby care institutions are less susceptible to allergies and immune diseases. The research has indicated that, children who had earlier been exposed to measles or hepatitis A are also quite resistant to allergies. Autoimmune diseases are those that the body should be able to naturally protect itself from, as per the hygiene hypothesis. Such include acute lymphoblastic leukemia affecting young people in the developed world. This is a region where young children are less likely to be exposed, and thereby develop the needed immunity. Unconfirmed evidence also links the hypothesis indirectly to autism, suggesting that an immune disease causes it (Lang, et al. 2010). However, extensive research shows that the hypothesis is of more significance to allergies than to immune diseases (Christensen, 2010). Some of the common allergens, i.e. substances that cause allergic attacks, include pollen, dust, hay, household chemicals, synthetic material, pet fur, some foods and some food preservatives. When these come into contact with the body of the allergic person, his/ her system activates the white blood cells in response to the foreign negative stimulus. (These cells normally help us to fight disease-causing microorganisms). Once released, the white blood cells cause an inflammatory reaction (Christensen, 2010). This reaction is exhibited in various ways e.g. itching, swelling, coughing, asthma, sneezing, running nose, tears etc. Asthma is a chronic condition in which the victim, when exposed to allergens, is unable breathe due to blockage of air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. If no medical attention is availed, patient may collapse or even die. Drugs and inhalers are normally used to control the situation (Christensen, 2010). However, not all scientists concur with the hygiene hypothesis as there is an antithesis to this which is the exposure theory. The exposure theory suggests that the higher the level of exposure to allergens, the more the possibility for allergies incidence. This theory is based on an observation that people living in urban areas have a higher percentage of allergies than their rural counterparts, and they are more prevalent in the developed than the developing world. Modern day people are more allergic as compared to people who lived some centuries back. While this appears at a glance to be true, large portions of the global population prove otherwise, hence the need for a more comprehensive and convincing explanation (Antony et al., 2006). On the other hand, some scholars support the hygiene hypothesis. A health researcher based in Germany, Dr. Erika Von Mutius investigated the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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