Thursday, February 12, 2015

Allergies Out of Control? Help is Here!

If you've tried everything you know to do to relieve your seasonal allergy symptoms and still find yourself with itchy eyes and nose, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose and coughing then your allergies are still out of control. And it's not just seasonal allergies that can cause problems, there are so many things to be allergic to. Allergy symptoms are basically a reaction from your immune system to a specific trigger that is treated as a foreign invader. Once the immune system labels something as a foreign invader it produces antibodies to attack it just as it does for a virus or bacteria. The antibodies locate the allergen in your body and inform blood cells to release histamine into the bloodstream. The releasing of histamine creates inflammation causing tissues around blood vessels to tighten and fluid to escape. The escaping fluid becomes the symptoms you experience such as a runny nose, itchy watery eyes, and sneezing.

Allergy Triggers and Symptoms
About 20% of us have allergies to deal with that are either seasonal type allergies to substances such as pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds or those that can happen year round like food allergies, scents, pet dander, dust mites and mold. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America also cites that around a third of those who have pollen allergies may be affected by oral allergy syndrome. This is triggered by a protein some produce has on its skin. Cliff Bassett, MD, founder of Allergy and Asthma Care in New York City, compares the reaction from the immune system to this protein as the same as the reaction to pollen. If this is a trigger for you, peeling the produce before eating it may be helpful. There are those however who will have to avoid foods that cause this reaction as it can lead to anaphylactic shock. Stress is another culprit when it comes to allergies. Studies such as one reported in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology find that stress increases the risk of allergy reactions. Air pollution too can increase allergy symptoms making sunny, calm days that cause ozone clouds to linger worse for allergy sufferers. Among all these triggers that can be ingested in some way, there are also allergies caused by insects such as bees, wasps and fire ants.

Besides the typical sneezing, runny nose or stuffy nose, watery eyes and itchy eyes and nose, there are sinus headaches that can occur when nasal passages swell, wheezing from air passages closing up, itchy hives and rashes including Eczema and even allergic reactions that are life threatening. Allergies can also leave you feeling fatigued, especially if you are not sleeping well due to the symptoms or taking an antihistamine that leaves you drowsy. In the case of insect stings and food allergies, symptoms can be life threatening.

Tips for Dealing With Allergy Symptoms
1. Be aware of the weather, pollen counts and air pollution levels if these are triggers for your allergy symptoms. Plan outdoor activities during times when these levels are lowest and the weather is best suited. Keep windows closed and use the air conditioning when these levels are high and make sure to keep air ducts and air filters clean. You can find your local pollen counts on some local weather reports or at the National Allergy Bureau web site -

2. Butterbur extract has also been found helpful in relieving allergy symptoms and working as a natural antihistamine. Sakina Bajowala, a board-certified allergist and immunologist, warns however that Butterbur is from the ragweed family and can in itself trigger other allergies. She also in not in favor of butterbur products promoted as not having pyrrolizidine alkaloids because they can be damaging to the liver.

3. Use a HEPA filter indoors and keep carpets cleaned regularly to cut down on triggers such as dust mites, pet dander and any pollutants or pollens that have come in the house. Vacuuming furniture and curtains and washing sheets in hot water regularly can also cut down on these type of triggers. Since vacuuming carpets can spread allergens up into the air you may need to wear a mask during this chore.

4. Dr. Oz and other experts advise using a neti pot to wash out the nasal cavities to help relieve allergy symptoms. Use distilled water, salt and baking soda for best results. Saline solution nasal sprays can also help give relief.

5. If mold is an issue for you, be aware of damp places where it can accumulate. Ventilate basements and other damp areas in the house and don't leave piles of leaves or grass standing outside around the house. If you have to do yard work during allergy season or when mold might be present, wear a mask and gloves as well as a long sleeve shirt.

6. If your allergies include food, make sure you are aware of those foods that are triggers for you and avoid them. When eating out or at someone else's house make sure you ask about ingredients and make sure the food preparer is aware of foods you can't eat. If your symptoms are severe enough to require an Epipen, make sure you always have it with you wherever you go. The most common food allergies include milk, eggs, nuts, and shellfish. When checking for ingredients make sure you also ask what type of oils are used when cooking. Peanut oil is sometimes used by restaurants.

7. Probiotics are the "friendly bacteria" that live in our intestines and do most of the work in digesting our food once it has passed through the stomach. Acidophilus and bifidus are among the most important of these friendly bacteria, and provide a barrier between the intestines and the bloodstream, as well as helping us fully digest our food. This can help with food allergy symptoms in particular and a study done with mice sensitive to peanuts reported finding the bacteria Clostridia useful for reducing this sensitivity. According to Taylor Feehley, a pathology researcher at the University of Chicago and co-author of this study, you can recolonize the friendly bacteria in your gut and retrain your immune system to react differently when confronted with foods you have sensitivities to. The combination of Clostridia used in this study is not available in food or supplements for humans yet, but other friendly bacteria are closely related to it, can help boost the immune system and help create the barrier that keeps food allergens from getting into the bloodstream from the intestines. Studies also show that having a healthy population of acidophilus in your small intestine can reduce the amount of IgE that your body produces in response to pollen.

8. Clothes, hair and skin can often have dust, pollen and other triggering substances on them from being outdoors. There are some clothes that if they aren't dirty and smelly you may be able to wear them again before washing, but don't give in to this temptation during allergy seasons. Wash them each time they are worn preferably in hot water. It's also a good idea to bathe or shower at night before going to bed so as not to let allergens settle in your bed.

9. Dust mites can be reduced by keeping the humidity level inside between 30 and 50%. Humidifiers, exhaust fans and proper ventilation can help maintain the proper level.

10. When taken with food, enzymes help ensure proper digestion and prevent food particles from entering the bloodstream. When taken separate from food, the enzymes are able to pass through the intestinal barrier (just like the food particles) to digest the food particles in the bloodstream. This prevents the immune system from thinking that food is an invader, thus preventing the immune response that causes food allergy symptoms if you have sensitivities to certain foods. This is not a replacement however for severe allergies to foods that produce life threatening symptoms, so be sure to keep your Epipen handy and avoid those foods if you have these type of allergic reactions. Enzymes, especially those with protease, can also help your body cope with pollens that have been ingested. Taking supplemental enzymes between meals can also support your body's immune response as it uses the extra enzymes to englobe and remove pollen grains from your system, reducing the amount of overreaction from your body's immune system.

You don't have to be miserable suffering with allergy symptoms. Make an allergy relief plan for yourself and check with your healthcare provider for additional solutions and to make sure your plan is a safe one for you. List the types of reactions you have, do some research to discover the triggers that cause them and try some of these natural solutions to find what gives you the relief you deserve.

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Image courtesy of David Castillo


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