Finding Relief Amidst Peak Pollen Season
Spring is here! And unfortunately so is peak pollen season, which goes hand-in-hand with itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, a runny nose and asthma attacks, for millions of Americans. Sound all too familiar? You aren’t alone; in fact, an estimated 60 million people in the United States suffer from allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, and the number is growing.
“Managing” your symptoms
In an effort to find relief from these miserable symptoms, many people turn to antihistamines. While they may provide some measure of temporary relief, they only mask the symptoms, while causing a host of side effects. Antihistamines do not correct the underlying problem rather they may leave you feeling some of the negative side effects, such as fatigue, drowsiness, nausea, headaches, dry mouth, blurred vision and skin rashes.
Antihistamines are notorious for causing mental impairment and drowsiness. Your brain uses naturally occurring histamines to maintain alertness and unfortunately many over-the-counter antihistamines interfere with histamine receptors in the brain. One popular brand, Benadryl, is so effective at inducing drowsiness that it’s sold as a sleep aid! While you may choose to deal with your symptoms and leave your allergies untreated, I caution you that the amount of inflammation and stress placed on your body and your immune system from untreated allergies increases your risk for serious illness . In fact, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic disease in the US, costing the health care system $18 billion annually.
Who gets allergies?
Although childhood is the time when many allergies first become apparent; in reality, allergies can emerge at any age, including midlife. Allergies are especially likely to develop during times of stress, when the body’s defenses are lowered, such as after a viral infection, during puberty, during or after pregnancy, after a severe injury, or following an emotional loss.
Allergies can cause a wide variety of symptoms ranging from recurrent sinus infections and skin disorders like eczema to asthma and migraine headaches. Although respiratory discomfort is the most obvious indicator of an allergic reaction, allergies cause symptoms throughout the body depending on where the immune system is activated. Food allergens can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms such as canker sores, gastritis and diarrhea. Headaches, depression, anxiety, and memory problems can occur if inflammation and swelling affect your brain. Recurrent or chronic urinary infections, and yeast infections commonly have an allergic basis. If you can track your symptoms on the seasonal calendar, or notice symptoms within an hour after eating, you may be one of millions suffering from allergies.
Childhood asthma is due to underlying allergies. The most common offenders are dust mites, which live by the millions in bedding and pillows, and food allergens such as wheat, corn, eggs, milk, yeast and soybeans. Adult asthma is caused by allergies as well. In fact, asthma accounts for nearly 10.1 million missed work days for adults annually.
Shots are out and drops are in!
At Hotze Health & Wellness Center, our approach to treating airborne allergies begins with a blood test to determine the proper dose of the allergen with which to begin treatment. The proper dose: Strong enough to produce allergy-blocking antibodies, but not so strong as to cause a full-blown reaction. By treating you with a small dose of the very allergens to which you react, antibodies are developed that will help you block the allergic reaction. This allergy treatment is similar to an immunization, and desensitizes you to the allergens.
Once we have established the dose, we treat with sublingual (under the tongue) allergy drops. That’s right! There is no longer a need to get painful allergy shots. The inconvenience of driving to the doctor each week to receive an injection, and then waiting 30 minutes after to make sure there isn’t an adverse reaction, is over. You can simply put a few drops under your tongue during the day and you’re finished
Sublingual drops are safe, effective allergy desensitization treatments that are widely used in Europe and in fact, they are the only method used in Great Britain. The World Health Organization recognizes allergy drops as a viable alternative to injections. In the fifteen years that we have been prescribing them, we have never had a significant adverse reaction to the allergy drops in the more than 4,000 patients who have used them. Not only are they a safe and convenient treatment, sublingual drops can deliver the results that you have been looking for.
Consider the following questions to evaluate the likelihood that you suffer from allergies:
• Do your symptoms worsen during a particular season, such as the spring or fall?
• Are your symptoms worse in parks or grassy areas?
• Are your symptoms worse around animals?
• Do your symptoms change when you go outdoors or indoors?
• Are your symptoms worse around dust?
• Are your symptoms worse upon arising in the morning?
• Do you awaken in the middle of the night with congestion?
• Do you have mood swings or feel depressed for no particular reason?
• Do you develop symptoms after eating or drinking certain foods?
• Do you sometimes feel stimulated, hyperactive, or fatigued after meals?
• Do you have any blood relatives with allergies?
• Do you have dark circles under your eyes?
• Do you get sinus infections every year?
• Do you have recurrent yeast infections, jock itch, or Athlete’s foot,?
• Do you have indigestion, bloating, diarrhea or constipation?
Allergy season is year-round; however, the following is a breakdown of which class of allergens affect people at any given time during the year. If your allergy symptoms worsen during a particular season, you can use this list as a guide to help prevent exacerbation of allergy symptoms.