Allergic

Allergic

How Our Immune System Reacts to a Changing World

Summary

Hay fever. Peanut allergies. Eczema. Billions of people worldwide have some form of allergy; millions have one severe enough to seriously endanger their health. And over the past decade, the number of people diagnosed with allergy has been steadily increasing, an ever-growing medical burden on individuals, families, and our health care system.

Medical anthropologist Theresa MacPhail, herself an allergy sufferer whose father died of a bee sting, set out to understand why. The result is a holistic and deeply researched examination of allergies, from their first medical description in 1819 to the mind-bending new treatments that are giving patients hope. MacPhail spent years interviewing hundreds of experts, patients and activists, in an effort to understand how recent changes in our environment and lifestyle are contributing to the dramatic rise in cases globally. Pollution, chemicals, antibiotics and, increasingly, climate change are all making our immune systems become more and more irritated. But, as she shows us in Allergic, understanding what is irritating us and why will help us to craft better environments in the future-so we can all breathe easier.

Reviews

  • Brilliantly comprehensive and highly readable... The first ever book to track both the history of allergies and the state of modern allergy science
    Rebecca Seal, Observer

About the author

Theresa MacPhail

Dr. Theresa MacPhail is a medical anthropologist, former journalist, and associate professor of science and technology studies who researches and writes about global health, biomedicine, and disease. She holds PhDs from the University of California - Berkeley and University of California San Francisco.
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