Allergies : Overview
In California, every season can be allergy season. It’s hard to know whether sneezing and a stuffy or runny nose is a common cold or a reaction to the lovely tree outside your bedroom window. With so many treatment options, we want to share In Health’s tips on how to weather your allergic season, whenever it might be.
What causes an allergic reaction?
When any substance enters the body it is tagged as either “foreign” or “self”. If the substance is tagged as foreign, the body’s immune system will attack it to protect you. The problem comes when your immune system attacks something that is either not harmful, or is something you are commonly exposed to such as trees, grass or wheat. Our body should not recognize these as foreign, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case.
Our immunity comes from cells that are made in the bone marrow. We have two types of reactions; one is an immediate allergic response and the other is a delayed hypersensitivity. These two reactions are triggered by different cells that are produced in the marrow. The immunity cells live in the tissues around blood vessels and nerves, and in your bloodstream. These are the areas that are most sensitive to an allergic material.
When a foreign substance is recognized, these cells surround the substance and release chemicals such as histamine that cause vasodilation and smooth tissue contraction with increased permeability to capillaries. This translates into basic symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, itchy, runny eyes. A more delayed response might manifest as fatigue, bowel upset, and other nagging symptoms which can be prolonged due to tissue damage in multiple areas of the body. These symptoms can eventually lead to chronic disease.
What happens to our cells when exposed to an allergen?
When an allergen gets in and attaches to the outside of a cell, the cell’s antibodies react with the protein of that molecule. If enough of the allergen, or antigen as is referred to in immunology, accumulates in the body, there is a major release of inflammatory chemicals. The cells will de-granulate and release the chemicals they have been producing such as:
- Interleukin 1-13
- Transforming growth factor
- Tumor Necrosis factor
What symptoms do allergies cause?
- Runny Nose
- Itchy watery eyes
- Throat swelling and difficulty swallowing
- Vomiting and abdominal pain
- Rashes and eczema
- Fainting or blacking out
- Congestion and difficulty breathing
- Mental confusion and dizziness
What is an allergy versus a sensitivity?
Typically allergies occur when the antibody most present is the IgE reaction. This reaction can be towards foods like peanuts or environmental allergens like pollen and grass. The symptoms are immediate and include, but are not limited to:
- Swelling of the throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Fainting or blacking out
- Tongue swelling
Food sensitivities are a delayed immune response that occurs with IgG reactions. The delayed sensitivity usually occurs about 2 to 72 hours after the contamination often causing chronic inflammation. Symptoms can include:
- Sore throat
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Achy joints
- Skin conditions (eczema, rash, hives)
- Trouble sleeping
- Gas, bloating
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Trouble sleeping
- Aggressive or hyperactive behavior in children
- Colic and increased spit up
What are the most common causes of food allergies?
Milk and dairy, soy, wheat, nuts and eggs.
Why is it important to treat allergies?
A simple allergy, if not properly treated, can develop into more severe health problems. As we understand in medicine today, many modern diseases have a strong correlation to inflammation, which can lead to ill health. Some of these diseases are:
- Ulcerative Colitis
- All types of arthropathy
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart disease
- Weight gain
- Autoimmune diseases
- Thyroid conditions
When you have an immune system that is allowed to run rampant with inflammation, you basically turn that body into an autoimmune reaction which can damage sensitive organs, the thyroid being one of the most sensitive. These are some of the reasons that ignoring an allergy or sensitivity can be potentially hazardous to our health. Perhaps not today or tomorrow, but down the road chronic inflammation will begin to damage all tissues and organs.
How do you test for allergies?
- Grid testing
- Blood Test
Conventional medicine uses the grid testing (scratch test) to diagnose environmental allergens. However, if you eat dairy and develop a stomachache a grid test will not necessarily result in a positive response. A blood test that is done specifically for the IgE and IgG antibodies can determine sensitivity.
How are allergies treated?
- Modulating stress
- Increasing cortisol levels that naturally block inflammation
- GI tract healing to reduce reactivity
- Remove food allergies
- Desensitization drops
- Homeopathic drainage
- Lifestyle changes
- Dietary changes
- Acupuncture to calm the nervous system
At in Health, we try and diagnose the cause of the problem, which includes food allergy testing as well as herbal and botanical non-drowsy antihistamine and anti-inflammatories. Desensitization drops help the body adapt to an allergen without having a major reaction. This is the same philosophy as the injections given by your allergist, but you can administer them to yourself. The process typically begins with environmental allergens and then moves to food allergens. We also make sure that your digestive tract is free of dysbiosis that may cause bad bacteria and yeast to infest your gut resulting in an overload on your immune system. We test this through stool samples and get specific results that allow us to attack the specific bugs plaguing you.