The New Allergy Solution is a comprehensive overview of both common and uncommon allergies that people are currently experiencing, along with both traditional medical solutions as well as complementary techniques that may enhance an individual's relief. Dr. Clifford Bassett is the founder and medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York, and in this book he explains why we get allergies, why they are getting worse, and provide a detailed guide to treating allergies by not only explaining why the approach he is suggesting could work, but also possible routes to take if the simplest solutions do not work.
Dr. Bassett begins by providing a major reason why so many are experiencing seasonal allergy symptoms than ever before—climate change! The spring allergy season is beginning earlier, lasting longer, and has a wider geographical range than ever before, all due to changes in the Earth's temperatures. Additionally, humans are changing their habits and exposures to materials, resulting in novel allergies. Nickel allergies, for example, have become a new problem for allergists, likely due to the presence of the various heavy metals that are ubiquitous in the personal electronics that we all seem to be glued to. The Natural Resources Defense Council has stated that there are “more than eighty thousand chemicals currently in use in the United States that have not been tested for their effect on human health.” Additionally, we are overmedicating ourselves, as many of the popular allergy medication that once required a prescription are now available over the counter. And we have even cleaned ourselves into having allergies!
The Hygiene Hypothesis states that we have made our environments too clean, and subsequently, our immune systems are overreacting due to what essentially amounts to boredom (for a fascinating, but gross, look at The Hygiene Hypothesis, check out RadioLab's Parasite podcast).
However, Dr. Bassett does not chastise us for largely causing these problems ourselves; instead he recognizes that this is the world we live in, and we must now take steps to be fully functional in a world that has changed faster than our immune systems can keep up. After explaining why allergies are on the rise, what allergies are, and different levels of prevention, he then explores common allergies in depth, including seasonal allergies, food allergies, and skin allergies. This organization makes it easy for people to dip in and out of the book, depending on their own allergic needs. He explains what these different allergies might look like, how to treat them, and how to prevent them. As a doctor, he provides possible solutions that are grounded in peer-reviewed research and clinical trials, but he also recognizes a place for holistic solutions, and discusses the idea of stress as a trigger and possible stress relief techniques, such as yoga and meditation.
Although my children (and increasingly, myself) are plagued with seasonal allergies, I doubt I would have purchased this book on my own, as our allergies are not debilitating and are easily managed with some preventative measures and medical interventions. However, I am glad that I had the opportunity to read it, because it enhanced my awareness of measures such as changing clothes after spending time outside, making sure the windows are closed during our peak allergic times (though that also coincides with the nicest weather), and gave me insight into a condition called “Skeeter Fever” which I was unaware of, even though my daughter is affected by it. As a teacher, it has enhanced my knowledge of the immune system through the detailed explanation of how the immune system perceives allergens, as well as giving me additional talking points about climate change. Though I do not recommend purchasing this book solely to enhance your teaching abilities, if you are affected by allergies, this book will not only help you manage them (even if you thought they were already well managed), you will get some bonus interesting lecture material!
AMANDA L. GLAZE is an Assistant Professor of Middle Grades & Secondary Science Education at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. In addition to science teacher education, she has taught courses in biological sciences for grades 7–12 and undergraduate students over the last ten years. Her interests include evolutionary biology, science and religion, and the intersections of science and society—specifically where scientific understandings are deemed controversial by the public. Glaze holds degrees in science education from The University of Alabama and Jacksonville State University. Her address is Department of Teaching & Learning, Georgia Southern University, PO BOX 8134, Statesboro, GA 30458; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.