HOW TO SURVIVE ALLERGY SEASON
We in Connecticut have nothing to be ashamed of –our seasonal allergies rank with the worst in the country. And thanks to the cold and prolonged winter, we’re having an “allergy tsunami.” So, if you’re suffering, you’re not alone. As I’m writing this, on May 7th, the season has just begun. What can you do? I’ll give you some short-term and long-term solutions to help you survive the “tsunami.”
Short-term Solutions — Just Get Me Through the Next Few Weeks, Dr. Goodman!
Allergy symptoms come about from histamine being released from mast cells, a type of white blood cell. A type of antibody called IgE controls this reaction (allergy tests measure how much of this antibody our bodies produce in reaction to different allergens).
Antihistamines block the production of histamine, lessening or eliminating our allergic reactions and symptoms.
Benadryl, Zyrtec: work great but make you drowsy.
Claritin, Allegra: Non-drowsy, may work as well for you as drowsy ones.
Other OTC Conventional Treatments:
Cromolyn Sodium: sold as Nasal Crom or by prescription taken orally. No side-effects to speak of, stabilizes mast cells rather than working through immune system. Not as effective but worth a try.
Mucinex/Tussin: Guaifenesin loosens mucus and can help reduce congestion and runny nose.
Eye drops: antihistamine drops can be OTC or prescription
Hista-Eze: my personal favorite. Safe to use, really works, non-drowsy. Take two twice a day. Contains tinospora cordifolia which balances the immune response to seasonal allergens. Follow the link orcontact my office to purchase.
NAC (n acetyl cysteine): an amino acid which, like mucinex, loosens mucus. Also great for supporting detox as it raises levels of glutathione. Take 900 mg three times a day. Again, no side effects.
Quercetin: a bioflavanoid found in apples, onion and oak tree bark which stabilizes mast cells. An ingredient in Hista-eze.
Stinging nettle leaf: helps reduce histamine response. Also an ingredient in Hista-eze
Similisan Eye Drops: effective homeopathic drops.
Alkalol: Nasal rinse. A better version of Neti Pot. Better design, and has essential oils which help reduce congestion and can kill mold, fungus and bacteria.
Acupuncture: can relieve sinus congestion and headache. Contact my office for details.
Naso-sympatico: essential oil treatment applied to sinuses using nasal swabs. Done in-office.
Long-term Solutions — Treating the Cause
You won’t permanently get rid of your allergies in one season. You may never fully get rid of them. But you can try desensitization. By exposing your body to small doses of the proteins you react to, you can develop a tolerance, no longer treating those substances as foreign.
The first step is to find out what you react to. I can order comprehensive, conventional IgE tests through Quest Diagnostics or Clinical Lab Partners. Phadia is the world leader in allergy testing and the results are comprehensive. You can remain on antihistamines while taking this test.
Once you find out what, if anything, you react to, you can adjust your environment (dust mites), consider hepa filters or remediation of mold in your house, or reduce exposure to pets (not an option I recommend for pet owners unless symptoms are severe).
For desensitization, you can see a conventional allergist for shots, though many will insist you have the redundant and less accurate skin tests done.
Another, less painful option (who likes getting allergy shots?) is to visit Dr. Darin Ingels, an ND practicing in Fairfield (full disclosure: Dr. Ingels is a former classmate and personal friend). Dr. Ingels specializes in non-invasive allergy treatment using drops of allergy solution under the tongue rather than injections. Studies show this method is as effective without the same risk for anaphylactic reactions. My daughter has been using the drops since last summer and reports her symptoms are about 1/3-1/2 better.
Good luck and good breathing. I hope this information is helpful.
Until next time, be well.
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