Allergies affect approximately 60 million Americans every year which is roughly 1 in 5 people.
So how do these medicines work?
Anti-histamines: These work by waiting until your immune system reacts to an allergen and your mast cells release an inflammatory chemical called histamine. Histamine will bind to blood vessels in your body to allow them to enlarge and cause swelling but histamine is also responsible for allowing redness, itching, and even changes in mucus secretions that can lead to other symptoms such as congestion. Anti-histamines work by blocking histamine from being used in the body however they don't stop other inflammatory chemicals and can still leave you with symptoms of congestion, dry mucus linings, headaches, aching, and even drowsiness.
Decongestants: Decongestants work by shrinking swollen nasal tissues and blood vessels to reduce swelling, redness, mucus production, and slowing congestion. However decongestants do have some side effects like raising blood pressure and they can also cause irritability and difficulty sleeping.
Steroids aka Corticosteriods: These work by suppressing your immune system response to all allergies including seasonal, food, and other allergens. These medications can take one to two weeks to take effect and must be taken even when you don't have allergy symptoms to be effective. They also have many short and long term side effects including: cough, hoarseness, fungal infections of mouth, weight gain, fluid retention, high blood pressure, growth suppression, diabetes, cataracts, bone thinning or osteoporosis, and muscle weakness.
Bronchodilators: These are an inhaled medicine, usually a steriod with similar side effects to the above, that will act chemically to relax the muscles around the bronchiols in the lungs to open up airways when asthma symptoms are present. These are strong medications that can be overused to cause high blood pressure and a racing heart.
Mast Cell Stabilizers: These can be used to prevent mild to moderate allergy inflammation symptoms or before exercise to prevent some mild asthma symptoms. These medications can take up to a few weeks to see effects and like any medication will also have some side effects such as: throat irritation, skin rashes, bad taste, burning/stinging/blurred vision depending on where they are administered.
Since these medications just cover up symptoms rather than treating the immune system hyperactivity, in many cases your allergies may seem to get worse over time with more complications and the need for more or stronger medications to control your allergy symptoms. A better solution to allergies may exist in understanding why your body is over reacting to an allergen and how to take control of your allergy symptoms when they do occur.
Your immune system is designed to protect you from "foreign invaders" and potential pathogens that you may be exposed to over your lifetime. However in some cases our immune system is so overworked that it begins to attack things in our environment such as pollen that don't really fall in those categories. This can be a result of an immune system that is on high alert from chronic systemic inflammation from pain or chronic injury, medications, disease, or unknown food sensitivities.
So how can you take control without medications?
1) Reduce pain and get help for your chronic injury. This will reduce the amount of inflammation you have and will help to calm your immune system so you don't have severe of a response to seasonal allergens.
2) Research your medications and talk to your doctor. Many medications cause inflammation in the body so the more medications you are taking the higher the risk or interactions and inflammation in the body. I would research the medications you are currently taking and talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your medications or natural ways to treat the conditions rather than dealing with a host of side effects from the medication.
3) Take a natural supplement to support allergy symptoms. Aller-aid is a pharmaceutical grade nutrient that will stop mast cells from releasing inflammatory chemicals, reduce nasal and sinus congestion, support healthy mucus linings, and battle fungal infections that were found by Mayo Clinic to be responsible for chronic sinus congestion in 93% of cases. Click here for more info on Aller-aid or to purchase. Got kids? We've got a children's version that's SAFE FOR CHILDREN UNDER 6!
4) Test yourself or get tested for food allergies. When your body is constantly being bombarded by food allergies or sensitivity there will be systemic inflammation that will put the immune system on high alert plus when your gut is inflamed it will be harder to absorb nutrients your body needs to keep a strong immune system. In many cases I've seen food sensitivity cause so much inflammation that the intestinal lining is damaged and can leak out undigested food particles into the blood stream to cause FURTHER food sensitivites and increased allergy response overall. It has been estimated by experts that when you decreased your exposure to food sensitivities your allergy response will reduce by 10x!!!!
To start, I'd recommend cutting out the two most common allergens I see in my office: cow's milk and gluten. If you can cut these out for a minimum of 2-4 weeks you may see a huge decrease in your allergy symptoms. For the gold standard of testing and quick results, an LRA blood test will be your best option, this test allows the lab to test your white blood cells specifically to see how they react to many allergens. In my office I test for response to 144 different allergens including food, mold, chemicals, and food additives and dyes.
Want more information? Call 309-689-6200 to setup an appointment or phone consultation to discuss ways to reduce your allergy symptoms naturally.