Try Stress Reduction To Improve Your Quality Of Life And Potentially Relieve Allergy Symptoms
Spring allergies are a stressful business. Coping with watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, or a sore throat affects how you get through each day. “The primary consequence is a reduced quality of life. This naturally can lead to stress on patients and their families,” says Dr. Ahmad Sedaghat, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
The influence goes both ways: not only can allergies cause stress, but stress can make allergies worse.
How Are Allergies Linked To Your Immune System
April 30, 2019General
Everyone is always so excited for the arrival of Spring, that is, until the pollen comes along with it. Thats because nearly 50 million people suffer from allergies in the United States, its the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the country, and costs $18 million annually. Thats an incredible amount of money to spend for what is essentially an overreaction on the part of the bodys immune system. Lets explore how your hay fever and the immune system are intertwined, and whether or not you can do anything about it.
Infections’ Impact On Asthma
Asthma can be triggered by a variety of things. One of the most common triggers are infections, including respiratory viruses and, to a lesser degree, bacterial and fungal infections of the respiratory tract.
Respiratory viruses are the predominant infectious cause of asthma attacks. As the viruses attach to receptors on the lining of the airways, they effectively “trip the alarms” for the immune system to attack, leading to inflammation and the onset of acute asthma symptoms.
In some cases, the symptoms of the infection will precede the attack in others, the infection and asthma symptoms will co-occur.
Among the respiratory viruses closely link to asthma symptoms are:
- Rhinoviruses, the predominant cause of the common cold
- Coronaviruses, some of which cause colds
- Adenoviruses, associated with colds, bronchitis, and pneumonia
- Influenza viruses, associated with flu
- Parainfluenza viruses, which mainly affect infants and young children
- Respiratory syncytial virus , which most children get by the age of 2
Viral-induced asthma attack is extremely common, affecting roughly 85% of children and 50% of adults with asthma.
Less commonly, bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae, Hemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis have been known to trigger asthma attacks, particularly if a sinus infection is involved.
Fungal infections are more closely associated with poor asthma control rather than the onset of an attack, although it can occur.
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What You Need To Know
- Allergies are the result of your immune systems response to a substance.
- Immune responses can be mild, from coughing and a runny nose, to a life-threatening reaction know as anaphylaxis.
- A person becomes allergic when their body develops antigens against a substance. Upon repeated exposure the severity of the reaction may increase.
- Allergies affect people of all ages, races, genders and socioeconomic statuses.
Allergic disease is one of the most common chronic health conditions in the world. People with a family history of allergies have an increase risk of developing allergic disease. Hay fever , eczema, hives, asthma, and food allergy are some types of allergic diseases. Allergy symptoms can range from mild to a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction .
Allergic reactions begin in your immune system. When a harmless substance such as dust, mold, or pollen is encountered by a person who is allergic to that substance, the immune system may over react by producing antibodies that “attack” the allergen. The can cause wheezing, itching, runny nose, watery or itchy eyes, and other symptoms.
What Are Allergy Shots
Allergies are an overreaction by the immune system to a perceived threat. For years, oral antihistamine medications were the only treatment for allergies. Today, various treatments are available for allergies, including steroid nasal sprays, sublingual immunotherapy, and immunotherapy injections.
Allergy shots gradually retrain your immune system by injecting small doses of an allergy-containing solution. Over time, your sensitivity to the allergen decreases until your immune system is successfully desensitized to the allergen.
Immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots is effective, but you may feel hesitant due to prevailing myths surrounding this treatment. Here are the most common misconceptions and the facts you should know.
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Understanding The Immune System
The immune system comprises a critical and vast network of tissues, cells, and organs that protect the body from infection. This complex network is responsible for preventing bacteria, fungi, germs, and viruses from invading the body and causing disease or infection. This happens by identifying and attacking infectious microorganisms. Key components of the immune system include:
- Lymphoid Organs: includes adenoids , appendix, blood vessels, bone marrow, lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels, spleen, thymus, and tonsils.
- Lymphocytes: the lymphoid organs also release lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. These cells identify, remember, and destroy invading microorganisms.
The immune system works by identifying a particular substance as harmful and activating its response system. Lymphocytes make and release antibodies which are proteins that lock onto the substance, neutralizing it which prevents harm. These antibodies stay in the body so when a person comes into contact with the same substance, it destroys it.
Ways To Strengthen Your Immune System To Fight Allergies
You may be able to minimize the impact of seasonal allergies by building your body’s defenses against them. Find out more about your immune system and allergies.
If you have seasonal allergies, chances are you’ve spent plenty of time cruising drugstore aisles looking for relief from allergy symptoms. You know just how wide a variety of medications there are both over-the-counter and prescription for seasonal allergies. What’s less well known is that you may also be able to get allergy relief by building up your defenses against them. Check out these tips to enhance your immune system and send allergies packing.
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Why Are Allergies Increasing
Allergy is widespread in the UK and worldwide and the number of people affected and experiencing severe allergic symptoms continues to increase, particularly in the developed world. For example, in the UK, cases of food allergies have doubled in the last decade and the number of hospitalisations caused by severe allergic reactions have increased 7-fold . Indeed, in 2014/2015, there were approximately 80,000 A & E attendances for allergies in England. This was an increase of almost 9,000 from the year beforeiv.
Eliminate Drugs That Interfere With The Immune System
Another important consideration are the drugs that affect our immunity. After years of gluten induced damage, many of us are on multiple medications. However, some of these drugs impact the immune system, and delay healing.
Allergy medications like Benadryl and Singulair can suppress part of your immune system, to reduce your symptoms of allergy. However, suppressing the immune system over long periods of time can increase your risk of infections and other immune related diseases.
A nice substitute for allergy medicines that can help support a normal immune response is vitamin C mixed with quercetin. When you combine these with bromelain, you get a very synergistic formulation that helps to stabilize immune cells, the membrane around your immune cells, particularly a cell type called a mast cell. Stabilizing mast cells, or supporting the membrane around the mast cells with vitamin C, quercetin and bromelain is a very effective strategy in lieu of taking over the counter allergy medications.
The last class of medications I recommend being cautious of are antacids. Antacids change the microbiome in the stomach and allows for an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines, which can be damaging to the liver. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as a result of antacid medications is a very real problem. Therefore there is a strong correlation between acid reflux and liver problems.
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Our Approach To Allergies And The Immune System
Allergies are a common chronic health condition, with symptoms that can range from mild to serious even life-threatening.
Allergic reactions begin in your immune system when a harmless substance such as dust, mold or pollen is encountered. If you are allergic to it, the immune system may overreact by producing antibodies that attack the allergen, causing wheezing, itching, a runny nose, and watery or itchy eyes.
SIU Medicine can provide help for allergy-sufferers. Our clinicians are trained to deliver allergy care with a range of medications, as well as natural treatments that can work alongside them. They can also share ideas on how to adjust your lifestyle to avoid triggers and how to allergy-proof your environment.
Here Are Some Examples Of Lymphoid Organs
Adenoids are the 2 glands that are located at the back of your nasal passages.
An appendix is a small tube connected to your large intestine.
3. Blood Vessels
The arteries, veins, and capillaries are the three kinds of blood vessels. Each one of these blood vessels plays a particular role in the process of circulation.
4. Bone Marrow
Bone marrow is found in your bone cavities. It is composed of soft and fatty tissue.
5. Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes are the small bean-shaped organs located throughout your body and connected through the lymphatic vessels.
6. Lymphatic Vessels
Lymphatic vessels are the network of capillaries and a large network of tubes found throughout your body that carries lymph away from tissues.
7. Peyer Patches
Peyer patches are small masses of lymphoid tissue in your small intestine.
A spleen is an organ that has the same size as a fist located in your abdominal cavity.
The thymus is a specialized primary lymphoid organ of your immune system. It is the two lobes that join in front of your trachea behind your breastbone.
Tonsils are the 2 oval masses located at the back of your throat.
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An Allergist Explains How Those With Allergies Can Take Steps To Avoid Summer Colds
Many with allergies are polysensitized, or allergic to more than one allergen, which can complicate treatment.
Everything seems to be in bloom this June in many parts of the country. That can be nice for outdoors enthusiasts, but not so much for those who suffer from allergies. Along with itchy eyes and a runny nose, people with allergies often complain they catch every cold going around.
One expert, Neil Kao, a fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, explains when white blood cells get overexcited and how a shower can be an allergy-sufferers best defense against the summer cold.
On the Hunt
The immune system works to distinguish normally functioning cells from sickly ones or external agents such as bacteria or viruses that cause disease. It does that by sending out white blood cells to sample the receptors on foreign-seeming cells.
Its sort of like touching your own hair and saying, Oh, right, thats me, move along, the Greenville, S.C., allergy specialist says.
More Burning Questions
- What Do We See When Our Eyes Are Closed?April 23, 2019
Another big role the immune system plays is to destroy the cells that are foreign, damaged or cancerous. Pollen, dander, dust and mold comprise part of the normal universe. They should be sampled, deemed neutral, then left alone, Dr. Kao explains. But if you suffer from seasonal allergies, your immune system overreacts.
Sick, Sick, Then Sick Again
Confronting the Real Enemy
Tips To Avoid Foods That May Cause Allergies
To avoid foods to which you have an allergy, learn the terms used to describe these foods on food labels, for example:
- milk protein milk, non-fat milk solids, cheese, yoghurt, caseinates, whey, lactose
- lactose milk, lactose
- Nutrition Australia. Tel. 9650 5165
- ASCIA Guidelines for prevention of food anaphylactic reactions in schools, preschools and childcare centres, 2015 update, Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. More information here.
- Osborne NJ, Koplin JJ, Martin PE, et al 2011, Prevalence of challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy using population-based sampling and predetermined challenge criteria in infants, J Allergy Clin Immunol, vol. 127, no. 3, pp. 668-676. More information here.
- About food allergies, The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. More information here.
- Anaphylaxis, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victorian Government. More information here.
- ASCIA Guidelines infant feeding and allergy prevention, 2016, Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. More information here.
- Allergens, Food Allergy Research and Education. More information here.
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How Is A Food Intolerance Managed Or Treated
You may need to change your diet to limit or eliminate problem foods. Many people with food intolerances find that consuming small amounts of food causes few symptoms if any. When symptoms occur, over-the-counter medicines like antacids or antidiarrheals can help.
People who are lactose intolerant can consume lactose-free milk and dairy products. You can also buy lactase enzymes at drugstores. You can take lactase pills before consuming dairy products or add lactase drops directly to milk to break down the lactose.
Is Eczema A Sign Of A Weak Immune System
No, having eczema doesnt automatically mean you have a weak immune system. It does mean that your immune system is sensitive, often overreacting to things that arent real threats to your body.
Some people with eczema have a primary immunodeficiency disorder that may make them more likely to get infections. But eczema can also affect people with healthy immune systems.
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What Causes Food Intolerance
People with food intolerances often dont make enough of a particular enzyme that the digestive system needs to break down a certain food or ingredient. Experts arent sure why some people develop food intolerances.
Certain gastrointestinal conditions may make you more prone to food sensitivities. These conditions include:
- Celiac disease.
Understanding The Allergic Reaction
The gooey mess of allergies is the result of an overactive immune system one that reacts against harmless foreign substances, like tree or plant pollen, as if they were a dangerous threat. The substances that provoke allergies are called allergens.
If you have allergies, when you breathe in tiny pollen particles or other allergens, immune system cells in the nose release chemicals that trigger allergy symptoms and recruit more immune system cells to fight. The bigger the battle that your immune system wages, the worse you’ll feel.
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Myth: Allergy Shots Are Painful And Have Serious Side Effects
Allergy shots are safe and effective. The large majority of patients treated with allergy shots dont have severe reactions. We take special care when determining the starting dosage and monitor you closely for potential reactions.
Some individuals develop mild reactions, such as redness or swelling at the injection site. Other mild side effects include sneezing and nasal congestion. Severe reactions seldom occur, and when they do, our health care team is prepared to spring into action.
Fighting On The Allergy Front
You might not be able to control your allergies completely, but you can do yourself a favor by avoiding anything that causes your allergy symptoms.
Pets. If you are allergic to an animal, you might have to find a new home for your pet. If you can’t do that, it can help to keep pets out of your bedroom, have someone bathe them at least once a week, or have the animal live outside. You’ll also want to avoid pets at other people’s homes.
Dust mites. If dust mites are your trouble, your mom or dad can use special covers for your bed and wash your sheets and blankets in very hot water to get rid of them. Keeping your room neat and clean also will help. Store stuffed animals or other stuff that attracts dust somewhere other than your room.
Food allergies. If you have food allergies, always read food labels to check the ingredients and learn the different names for the food allergen. Even though you may have eaten a food before, always check the label because ingredients may change. If you’re not sure about a food, don’t eat it. Instead, ask a grownup if it’s safe. Your mom or dad can help teach you which foods and ingredients you should avoid.
Also, your parents can help you pack safe snacks for occasions away from home when everyone else might be having something you can’t, such as peanut butter ice cream. Then, instead of feeling left out, you can snack along with your friends without risking an allergy attack and, even worse, having to go home early!
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Allergies Can Cause Ear Infections Too
If you have allergies, youre at a higher risk for developing ear infections. This is because when the Eustachian tubes are blocked and fluid begins to pool, the ears become a breeding ground for bacteria that can lead to an infection. This type of infection is known as otitis media, which can cause other symptoms such as tinnitus , dizziness and balance issues. In rare but severe cases, the eardrum may even rupture.
Myth: Allergy Shots Dont Really Work
Allergy shots are an effective and unique method of treating allergies. Immunotherapy changes the way your body responds to the environment so symptoms like sneezing and watery eyes decrease. Your allergy shot is formulated using a very small amount of all-natural protein extracts that, when given correctly, provides significant relief for most patients.
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What Are The Strategies For Rebuilding Your Immune System
Even if you are diligently following a gluten free diet, you may still find you are still struggling with immune problems and symptomatic resolution. Remember, 70-80% of your immune system lies in your gut. Gluten damages the gut over time, and it takes time to heal this damage. After removing gluten from your diet, the body needs some critical nutrients and minerals to help rebuild the immune system and repair damaged tissue. Below I have mapped out some nutritional strategies for you to implement to help in supporting this process.
The first and most important mineral I recommend supplementing with is zinc. Zinc is the second most common deficiency I see in people with gluten sensitivity, and research shows that a large percent of those diagnosed with gluten sensitivity have low zinc levels. Zinc is very critical in regulating the immune system, and repairing damaged tissue. Zinc up-regulates the immune system and helps to regulate blood sugar and antioxidant capacity. Zinc is necessary for immune cell maturation. Zinc is needed in order to make new collagen, new cartilage, and new tissues. It is an essential mineral that every body needs to support the repair of muscle and joint tissue.
Quercetin and Vitamin C
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Many of you may be wondering about vitamin D and iron, and why they arent are this listIts because we stopped at 5