The hygiene hypothesis is something that relates to allergies such as asthma and eczema. It basically says that one theory behind the recent rise in these types of allergies can be out down to hygiene. I'm going to explore that a little today.
Surely the issue here is poor hygiene? That just be what causes problems, it can't be healthy to be exposed to dirt and bacteria can it?
Well actually, no. The theory proposes that it's actually the lack of dirt and bacteria that is influencing the current levels of these atopic allergies.
The reason that this may be topsy-turvy is all down to how our immune systems develop. In childhood we get exposed to different bacteria through dirt and our environment. Exposure to these bacteria helps our immune system develop ways to deal with them. As with most things though, too much exposure to sort and bacteria can be a bad thing and lead to infections and so on. Balance is key!
When we don't get exposed to dirt and bacteria as we're children, or as we lives our adult lives our immune systems really struggle. Then when we do get exposed every now and then it just can't cope. It struggles to deal with the bacteria and this struggle expresses itself as asthma, eczema and other symptoms.
What can we do about it?
Basically don't be afraid of dirt and don't be afraid of your children getting dirty. Yes have a clean house, but it doesn't (shouldn't) be clinically free of bacteria. If you can perform surgery off your bathroom or kitchen floor then it's too clean. Yes there's such a thing! If you believe in the hygiene hypothesis then just allow yourself and your kids to get exposed to dirt.
It's good to get dirty!