Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Well, you are not alone!
It is estimated that 55 million Americans (that’s 1 in 4 people) suffer from allergies of some kind – seasonal, food, skin, and medication. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology states that as many as 30% of adults and 40% of children suffer from allergic rhinitis each year.
If you are like most people, you are looking for ways to prevent, reduce and even eliminate your seasonal allergy symptoms. We are getting ready to start the Fall allergy season where ragweed and then mold (once it starts raining), seem to be the biggest culprits, but did you know that your seasonal allergies may be more then just about those environmental triggers?
First, let’s take a look at the typical approach to allergies. Antihistamines, they help relieve or prevent allergy symptoms. When your body is exposed to allergens, it releases histamines. Histamines attach to the cells in your body and cause them to swell and leak fluid. This can cause itching, sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. Antihistamines prevent histamines from attaching to your cells and causing symptoms. As good as some of these medications are at relieving allergy symptoms, they do nothing to prevent the onset.
Functional medicine is the concept of addressing the underlying causes of conditions rather than putting a band-aid on symptoms. The premise is that supporting the function of the body inherently promotes alleviation of symptoms. Allergies are no exception.
So what can we do??
In order to have the resolution of your symptoms, the goal needs to be to decrease your overall immune response. Contrary to widespread belief, symptoms do not gradually increase with the allergen exposure. The symptoms only appear when the total exposure exceeds the symptom threshold. That means that by reducing the overall exposure, you can eliminate these symptoms.
How do we do this? Lets face it– we live in Indiana and while most of us enjoy our changing seasons, they come with environmental triggers and unless we live in a bubble they are extremely hard to avoid. Most of us enjoy and love our pets, so finding them new homes is not an option either. We need to think of what else could be elevating our cumulative allergic loads. FOOD!
At our office we have a 3 step process to helping resolve allergies.
1) Elimination Diet
To start, we have each of our patients go through an elimination diet. We have you remove toxic and inflammatory foods from your diet for at least fourteen days. The inflammatory foods you remove are: gluten, dairy, soy, yeast, eggs, corn, peanuts, as well as a few others. The toxic foods are alcohol, sugar, caffeine, and food additives.
The main purpose is to determine which foods are causing problems for your immune system. We are looking for the foods you are sensitive or intolerant and ask that you keep a log of symptoms. We watch for IgG or delayed reactions to foods rather than IgE or immediate reactions or allergies to foods. If you have an allergy to a food you likely already know it. For example if you eat almonds and break into a rash within an hour, you have an allergy to almonds and that is an IgE reaction. However, if you eat toast and two days later you have a headache or stuffy nose, then that could be a sign of gluten intolerance and that is an IgG or delayed immune reaction.
After the 14 days, if your symptoms have improved you may then gradually add one food back in at a time every three days, making sure to eat at least three servings a day for three days and taking note of any symptoms such as headache, sneezing, fatigue or rash.
If you notice a negative symptom then you would continue to remove this food from your diet for at least 3-6 months. If no symptoms arise repeat the above steps with each of the remaining foods.
This is not an easy task, but can shed light on what may be increasing that allergic load and causing your symptoms.
2) IgG Food Antibody Testing:
Along with the diet, many of our patients decide to get a blood test called an IgG Food Antibody Test by Genova Diagnostics to determine which foods they are intolerant of. The advantage of the food testing is that it test for much more then a patient would be eliminating. This immunological food sensitivity test measures IgG antibody levels to 87 foods, and total IgE. Additional sensitivity tests are also available for regional inhalants, molds, vegetables, and spices. Though, we do believe that your body knows better than any test we recommend doing both the testing and elimination diet.
The food antibody testing is different than traditional allergy testing in that it is checking for IgG or delayed immune reactions where as the allergy testing checks for IgE or immediate immune reactions.
Food sensitivities or intolerances can develop over time, often because of a poor diet and leaky gut. The consequences of improper food choices can manifest as food intolerance and cause weight gain, fatigue, sinus issues, acne, mood swings, and IBS.
Because reactions can take up to 72 hours to occur, it can be very difficult to recognize them. Eating a diet low in inflammatory foods reduces excess swelling and fluid accumulation in your tissues, which will assist with your body’s healing, detoxification processes and reduce seasonal allergies symptoms.
3) A Comprehensive Stool Test:
Prior to being seen at our office, most patients with seasonal allergies end up with “sinus infections” and are prescribed antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off most or all of our good bacteria and we can end up with candida(yeast) overgrowth or dysbiosis.
These two things can worsen seasonal allergy symptoms, as well as cause intestinal damage leading to increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Leaky Gut can then further increases one’s susceptibility to food sensitivities, which exacerbates the problem and worsens seasonal allergy symptoms. Talk about a circle!!
If you have tried and elimination diet on your own and your symptoms are not resolving, we recommend that you call us or find a provider willing to order a comprehensive stool analysis. Here is a link to the test we use. Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis
Typical results from using this 3 step approach = complete resolution of symptoms!
For acute symptom relief we carry an alternative, natural, safe and effective product by Ortho Molecular called D-Hist. D-Hist is a targeted blend of flavonoids, antioxidants, proteolytic enzymes and botanicals designed to provide comprehensive support for seasonal challenges caused by common environmental allergens. The formula includes quercetin, bromelain, stinging nettles leaf, and N-acetyl cysteine. The combination actively promotes healthy nasal and sinus passages for individuals with elevated histamine and respiratory irritation. This is sold all year round at our office. Click here to learn more!
There is no reason to suffer from miserable allergies in the Fall or Spring! Come see us to get well!
Erin & Blair