The latest issue of the Science in the News "Flash" is out now about the connections between atopic disorders - namely allergies, asthma and eczema.
Itchy, watery eyes, and a drippy nose. Constricted, swollen airways secreting thick mucus. Itchy, red, dry, cracked skin. These symptoms describe three conditions -- allergies, asthma, and eczema, respectively -- that are commonly found together in the same people. Yet, what causes these symptoms and why they are so closely associated with each other is still poorly understood.
The Flash is written and edited by graduate students, an all-volunteer effort to explain complex science to the general public. Last month, I wrote about the link between obesity, inflammation and type 2 diabetes. This month, graduate student Elizabeth Brown from the Human Evolutionary Biology department writes about another problem involving an overzealous immune system.
Despite progress in fighting infectious diseases in developed countries with increased sanitation, antibiotics, and antiviral medications, allergies have become increasingly common in these regions. A few hypotheses have been put forth to explain this trend.