Allergies, A Case of Mistaken Identity
Allergies are a sign that your body’s immune system is working well to defend you from potential danger. However, the issue with allergies is that of mistaken identity, the dangerous invader is not dangerous at all, and the body’s full on attack is misdirected.
Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis is a hypersensitive immune response from something the immune system thinks is harmful: Pollen and mold. The body’s response to pollen and mold is to attack it the same way our bodies attack viruses and infectious bacteria. That is why allergy symptoms and symptoms of a cold or flu are so similar: Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, teary eyes, itchy throat and congestion galore!
Why Do Some People Get Allergies and Others Do Not?
Childhood Environment- If we were exposed to allergens as a child, the chances of us developing a harmful reaction to them is less. People who grew up on farms, or in the developing world tend to have fewer allergies.
Genetics- Often allergies tend to run in families. If your parents suffer from seasonal allergies, chances are you do as well; you have inherited antibodies to seasonal allergens.
What’s the Science Behind Our Body’s Reaction?
If you are prone to getting seasonal allergies, your body’s immune system has developed highly specialized antibodies to attack allergens that come into your system. When the antibody recognizes the allergens, it releases chemicals called histamine which cause nerve cells to swell and leak fluid causing all those allergy symptoms.
How to Cope with Seasonal Allergies?
Monitor daily pollen count and modify your activities accordingly. Pollen counts are generally higher in the morning, and on warm, windy days. Avoid spending time outside when there is a lot of pollen in the air to limit your exposure. Pollen is significantly reduced after it has rained. You can monitor your area’s pollen count online at the following websites:
Keep allergens outside by turning on the air conditioner instead of opening up windows, do not let pets that go outside into your bedroom, and especially not onto your bed, and clean their paws when they enter the house so they do not bring in the pollen. Hair and clothing attracts a lot of pollen, so washing your hair every night to rinse off the pollen, and changing your clothes when you come into the house, are all ways of keeping allergens outside.
Adjust your diet to remove natural histamine enhancing foods. Common foods like tomatoes, alcohol, sugar and dairy products cause our bodies to release histamine. Foods that help reduce allergies and the production of histamine are: Green tea, ginger, garlic, onions, peppers and berries. Eating spicy food can help clear sinus congestion.
Spring cleaning on a regular basis does wonders to minimize common allergens in the house.
- Vacuuming the house at least once a week will help eliminate dust mites and pet dander.
- Dusting and wiping down furniture with a damp cloth every week traps and eliminates dust mites.
- Changing the filter of the air conditioning unit before turning it on for the season is a must. AC filters trap dust, mold, pet dander as well as outdoor allergens like pollen. If the filter is not replaced before the unit is turned on in the summer, a host of allergens from last summer will find their way around the house in no time.
Over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants can provide much needed relief and control of seasonal allergies. If you know you will encounter severe allergies, start taking antihistamines two weeks before your symptoms regularly begin. Often people will need to experiment with different over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants to find which one works the best, with the minimal effects like drowsiness and brain fog. Benadryl, Claritin, and Xuzal are all great antihistamines to try.
Nasal sprays like NeilMed Sinus Relief are another effective tool that rinses the pollen out of your nasal cavities.
Dr. Dinani, Chief Medical Officer at Synergy Health Advisors spills her hack on tackling allergies,
“My best way to tackle allergies is to use bottled or pre-boiled water with premixed saline powder and a drop of Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo to rinse the sinuses. This works wonders to wash out allergens, antigens and decrease the biofilm of mucus.”
Talk to Your Doctor
If your allergies are very severe, and are not reduced with over-the-counter medications, book an appointment with your primary care physician to get a more in depth look. Your physician can refer you to specialists who can perform skin, blood and allergy tests to identify what allergen is causing all the trouble, and can develop a personalized treatment plan to help you get through allergy season.
At Synergy Health Advisors, we know how bothersome seasonal allergies can be. We are here to advise and recommend natural as well as pharmaceutical treatment to help offset the effects of allergies. Book an appointment today to connect with a Primary Care Physician and begin your journey to better health.