It’s allergy time in Tennessee!
Actually, due to numerous factors, it seems that any time is allergy time in Tennessee. However, the spring weather has brought an abundance of pollen producers to life this week.
Allergies are a sign that your immune system has become dysfunctional. Your body is launching an attack against substances that are innocuous. Pollen is not dangerous to your health, yet your body is reacting as if it were.
In the case of allergic reaction to pollen, the pollen particles trigger an inflammatory response that causes the body to release immune system chemicals that are usually reserved to defend against enemy invaders to the body.
The solution most people reach for is a pharmaceutical product that is intended to inhibit that inflammatory response, such as Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec or some other popular remedy. If the conditions are severe, a doctor may prescribe a steroid, which is a very powerful inhibitor of the immune system response.
Recently a new over-the-counter product to address allergies has been released. Nasacort is a steroid product that was available only by prescription until recently. If you choose to use this product, take the time to read all available information. Nasacort is quite different from Benadryl and similar medications and has a different set of warnings about side effects.
For a drug-free approach to relieve allergy symptoms, one of the best products I can recommend is the NeilMed nasal irrigation solution. (Yes, Netipot fans, this works much better!) This product is very inexpensive and simple, yet very effective. To use, simply fill the small squeeze bottle with water and salt solution and gently squirt into each nostril to rinse and irrigate the nasal passages. The flow of solution is very soothing and can reduce or in some cases eliminate allergy symptoms. The product only costs a few dollars but I have a few free sample packages still available at the office if you want to stop by.
Although these products can be very helpful in alleviating the acute symptoms of the allergy, questions remain as to why the allergies occur and what can be done to eliminate them.
It has long been known that for some people, certain foods can make a difference in allergy symptoms. Although there is debate about whether the negative response to certain foods should be referred to as food allergies, or simply food sensitivities, the fact remains that some people are more likely to develop symptoms if they eat certain foods.
It would be great if I could provide a list of suspect foods that is universally applicable to all allergy sufferers.
Unfortunately, such a list does not exist. Due to the infinitely broad spectrum of variation in the health status, genetic background, environmental exposure, and medical histories of the millions of people affected, there is no way to accurately predict which foods should be avoided. In other words, the foods that may affect you might be completely tolerable to others.
There are some foods that qualify as usual suspects, however. Some foods are more likely to be problematic.
Interestingly, allergy sufferers may often crave the very foods that may be linked to allergy symptoms. For example, “carb lovers” and “sugarholics” may have fewer allergy symptoms if they resist the strong desire to over-consume these types of foods. A carbohydrate-restricted diet has been shown to be very helpful for many allergy patients. It is sometimes even possible to completely eliminate allergies altogether by sticking to a sensible low carbohydrate eating plan. Other potential benefits include weight loss, increased energy, fewer aches and pains, and lower blood pressure.
Dairy products can be culprits for allergy symptoms. Some people are sensitive to casein and lactose in dairy products. Dairy tends to thicken the mucus secretions in many people, and that can lead to more bothersome allergy symptoms, sinusitis, nagging morning cough and frequent nasal congestion. In some cases, taking digestive enzymes can help alleviate allergy symptoms related to dairy.
For some people, the gluten proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains can be a problem. A gluten-free diet could bring relief from troublesome allergic symptoms.