The Arizona weather is getting cooler and many of us are excited to be outside again! However, the cooler weather and reseeding of the lawns means that allergy season is starting. And how frustrating when you’re stuck inside wheezing, sneezing, and sniffling when you should be outside living life to the fullest.
Allergies are one of the most elusive health problems out there. Most people suffer from some sort of allergy, but researchers still aren’t completely sure what causes them. Or better yet, how to cure them.
Are we relegated to suffering and hoping that science makes a breakthrough someday?
The good news is there are ways to manage your allergies and reduce your symptoms so you can start living life again.
Nasal rinsing, also known as nasal irrigation, is when you flush out your nasal cavity with a saline solution. By doing a nasal rinse you clear out your nose and sinuses of excess mucus and allergens that have built up over time.
There are many tools out there that help you with nasal rinsing. The most popular method is to use a neti pot. A neti pot is a small pot with a spout that’s made specifically for nasal rinsing.
Nasal rinsing is especially helpful for people suffering from chronic sinusitis though anyone can benefit from it.
Buying an air filter for your home is an easy way to get some allergy relief. You can just set it up once and then forget about it. Since the air in your home will be cleaner when using an air filter your body won’t be as overloaded when you go outside.
Think of your allergies like water pouring into a cup. The symptoms start showing up once the water overflows. By using an air filter you’re increasing the length of time it takes to trigger your symptoms.
Air filters can range from cheap to expensive. A high-quality air filter can be a great investment if you suffer from severe allergies and are dying to get relief.
Essential oils such as tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oil have properties that reduce the symptoms of allergies. The oils reduce inflammation and help clear away excess mucus.
There are different ways of using essential oils, but aromatherapy is the easiest way. For aromatherapy you can either use a diffuser or massage it into your skin like you would with a lotion.
There are benefits to both methods, though using a diffuser is less work and has the pleasant side effect of making your house smell amazing.
Honey from local bees is made with pollen the bees collect from the local area. When you eat the honey, you’re ingesting a small and manageable amount of the allergens.
Over time you’ll build up a tolerance to the allergens used in the honey. Think of it like a low powered and natural version of allergy shots. This is a fun one because it’s not only healthy, but tasty, too.
The catch here is that the honey must be local. Otherwise it won’t have as many allergens that are specific to your area. Not everybody is lucky enough to have this option available, but definitely take advantage of it if you have a bee farm nearby.
Studies have shown that gluten causes inflammation and may be linked to allergies and other health issues.
The theory is that gluten is a large molecule that’s hard for your body to break down. This causes additional stress on your body and can sometimes overwhelm it.
You don’t have to go completely gluten free if it sounds too intimidating to you. Try gradually cutting down on it over time and see if you notice any positive changes. If so, continue cutting out more gluten until you’re completely gluten free.
These suggestions aren’t a complete fix by any means, but besides non-organic options such as allergy shots and allergy medicines, these are some the best natural treatments we have until science comes up with a permanent solution.
Learn more about allergy and asthma treatment by booking an appointment at one of our 5 Valley-wide Allergy Clinics.
Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs in which inflammation causes the airways to narrow, making breathing more difficult.
The preceding info may seem relatively simple but actually, asthma is a complicated, inconvenient, and sometimes fatal disease if not treated. The best way to understand what asthma is understanding its pathology.
- The respiratory system is in charge of taking in oxygen and eliminating carbon dioxide. It uses a series of organs, especially the lungs, to supply every cell in the body with oxygen. That oxygen is of vital importance to every cell in the body.
Asthma causes parts of your respiratory system to spasm, which makes it hard to bring oxygen in and eliminate carbon dioxide.
- Spasms are the involuntary muscle constrictions. In an asthmatic person the tubes that bring oxygen into the lungs, also known as Bronchi, spasm and become partially blocked by mucus. That mucus is a result of the body’s autoimmune response, otherwise known as an allergic reaction.
- An allergic reaction happens when the body’s immune system tries to eliminate a harmful agent, a pathogen. Often the immune system ‘overreacts’ to a pathogen. In layman’s terms; it eliminates a virtually harmless pathogen and makes you very uncomfortable in the process.
This condition makes the intake of oxygen difficult because an allergic reaction, or similar hypersensitivity, causes the tubes that bring oxygen to the lungs to spasm and narrow. This decreases the amount of air that can get to the lungs and be used by the body.
Management of Asthma
Asthma is a chronic disease that can be controlled to allow normal daily activities. By controlling your asthma every day, you can prevent serious symptoms and take part in all activities. If you asthma is not well controlled, you are likely to have symptoms that can make you miss school or work and keep you from doing other things you enjoy. Although there is no cure, here are some important prevention strategies
- Recognize attacks early.
- Take medication as directed.
- Avoid tobacco smoke.
- Identify and avoid triggers.
- Talk with your asthma specialist to find ways to improve your health.
- Get the influenza vaccination (pneumonia shot) every five years.
If any questions or concerns, please contact our office for an appointment. We have 5 Board Certified clinics in the Phoenix Metro to serve you!
Shellfish and sushi consumption is high in the Asia-Pacific, Phoenix and growing all over the U.S. Unfortunately, reports of allergy responses from shellfish have also increased. Shellfish allergies are common in adults compared to children; and in male children compared to female ones. In addition, if your family has a history of shellfish allergies, your child may be more likely to be allergic too.
Some of the shellfish causing the allergic reactions are crustaceans and mollusks such as shrimp, crab, lobster, clam, oyster and mussel though prawns/ shrimp was most commonly implicated in shellfish allergies which are commonly found in sushi rolls and at many restaurants.
Tropomyosin is the allergen in shellfish causing this immune reaction among other proteins such as arginine kinase. Shellfish proteins can come in contact with your child through ingestion, inhalation – of fumes while cooking – or even skin contact.
Allergy reactions vary by age and even by region. Symptoms of shellfish allergy are hives, eczema, wheezing, dizziness, gastrointestinal symptoms. More severe anaphylactic reactions can cause breathing obstruction, dizziness and shock with high pulse and dropping blood-pressure which can be fatal.
It is important to differentiate allergy reaction from shellfish food poisoning. Toxins stored within the shellfish – domoic acid, brevetoxins, saxitoxins, azaspiracids, biotoxins and bacterial/viral toxins – can affect your nervous, gastrointestinal and other systems.
Allergic reactions are therefore verified using a variety of tests including skin prick testing.
Like most food allergies, avoidance of the allergy-causing food is suggested.
- You should take care to avoid all shellfish for your child; check with your doctor/dietician.
- Eating in restaurants where the oil or vessels/surfaces may have come in contact with shellfish can cause allergic reactions. You may decide to avoid restaurants where shellfish or fish are on the menu.
- Carrying and knowing how to use an epinephrine auto injector may be useful; teach your child this, once he or she is a bit older
- Doctors also suggest introducing shellfish earlier – to babies as young as 6 months – as this may actually reduce chances of allergies. Monitor your child after introducing the new food and if there are no adverse reactions; include the new food as part of his or her regular diet.
Egg allergy is caused due to our immune system reacting against the proteins in the egg – usually found in the white part. It is particularly seen in younger children starting from 6 months of age. Egg allergies can be either permanent or transient – in transient cases, children outgrow their egg allergy.
Some people have allergic reactions to egg upon skin contact but can ingest it because gastric digestion reduces the allergen of the egg proteins. Sometimes egg proteins can be resistant to the heat and digestive enzymes in the stomach causing an immune response.
For children with allergies, the reaction is usually within minutes to a couple of hours of ingestion of egg, with symptoms such as hives or swelling. Skin symptoms are most common, but other immediate reactions involving the gastrointestinal or respiratory tracts are also seen.
Severity of reaction
Egg allergy has been implicated as a trigger for atopic dermatitis. Children who have egg allergies with atopic dermatitis response are more likely to develop asthma.
The severity of the allergic reaction varies from person to person, from episode to episode. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening, and infants and children who are asthmatics are particularly at risk. Fatal incidents are few, but have occurred.
Allergic reactions are milder when ingesting cooked denatured egg, but stronger in case of eating raw or undercooked egg. Gastrointestinal inflammatory reactions are also present in some children showing up as allergic eosinophilic esophagitis.
Egg allergy can be verified by a variety of diagnostic methods. However, there is no permanent cure, so managing this involves:
- Avoiding eggs – this can prove difficult as egg whites, shells etc. are in so many products including medicines and vaccines. Being vigilant becomes important.
- For patients with a history of severe allergic reactions, having an epinephrine autoinjector at hand always.
- Some studies have suggested kids fed egg at 4-6 months of age were less likely to develop an egg allergy.
When it comes to the adult population, occupational asthma has been seen in populations which work in egg factories or bakeries where egg is used commonly in aerosol form.
Does holding a fluffy dog make you sneeze and wheeze? If you’re suffering from dreadful allergies, you may think that it’s impossible for you to enjoy the heartwarming companionship offered by adorable pets. But fear not. All hope is not lost, as you can still cuddle that charming little fluffball when you choose the right pet for you.
What Is a Hypoallergenic Pet?
Pet dander — or dead skin cells — is a common, serious trigger for allergy symptoms, and it’s present even in hairless cats and short-haired dogs. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (aafa.org/page/pet-dog-cat-allergies.aspx), around three in 10 individuals with allergies experience allergic reactions to dogs and cats, and cat allergies are more common than dog allergies.
Hypoallergenic pets refer to animals that generally produce fewer allergens, leading to lower chances of triggering your allergy symptoms. However, no dog or cat is completely non-allergic. Your immune system naturally responds to proteins found in the dander, saliva or urine of animals to shield your body from illnesses. But in the case of people with pet allergies, their immune systems are more sensitive than others and are thus more prone to react even to harmless animal proteins. Thankfully, you can still care for an animal even if you have pet allergy once you find one that doesn’t cause allergic reactions.
“What are some of the Best Hypoallergenic Animals for Your Family?”
Best Dogs for Allergy Sufferers:
If you’re looking for a dog, the American Kennel Club (akc.org/about/faq-allergies/)
Recommends breeds with a predictable, non-shedding coat that creates less dander. Here are ideal hypoallergenic canine breeds for allergy sufferers:
- Afghan Hound — Typically reserved and composed, Afghan Hounds need regular exercise and grooming. You should bathe and brush your Afghan Hound twice a week to keep pet dander at bay.
- American Hairless Terrier — American Hairless Terriers are smart, energetic dogs that are perfect for kids and teens. They also are ideal for those living in bustling cities, as they require minimal outdoor exercise and do well with a lot of indoor playtime.
- Bedlington Terriers — Regular walks and indoor play can make a Bedlington Terrier fit and happy. If you want a hypoallergenic dog with a wooly coat, this breed is for you.
- Chinese Crested — A Chinese Crested is a wonderful breed if you’re looking for a dog that sheds little to no hair. It’s an attentive and active dog that loves to spend time with its owner.
For cat lovers, the following feline breeds are considered hypoallergenic:
- Siberian Forest — Typically heavier than other cats, a Siberian Forest is strong and thick-coated. This cat breed loves to show affection and play with water.
- Balinese — Balinese cats are single-coated with less shedding. Resembling the Siamese, these cats have bright blue eyes, and they are lively, friendly and intelligent.
- Burmese — If you want an incredibly loyal feline that gives you plenty of affection, a Burmese cat is your best choice. This smart, playful, people-oriented cat is comparable to dogs.
Unknown to many, birds also produce pet dander and may trigger allergy symptoms. But if you really want a feathered companion, you can choose birds that are hypoallergenic. Parakeets, also called budgies, shed minimal dander, making them an excellent option for allergy sufferers. Other recommended hypoallergenic birds include Eclectus, Pionus, and Toucans.
Small, Hypoallergenic Animals:
Aquatic pets are perfect for allergy sufferers, as they stay in the water and require no direct contact. Just make sure you don’t dip your hand in the water to prevent potential infections associated with aquatic environments. You may also opt for a pet reptile, which neither has fur nor the proteins known to cause allergic reactions.
“How to Know If a Pet Is Hypoallergenic?”
Before getting a new pet, especially if you’re planning to adopt a rescued animal, it’s important to determine first if the animal doesn’t trigger your symptoms. To do so, trial and error may be necessary. Visit an animal shelter, a pet store or a friend who has the particular breed you like, and spend time with your chosen animal for up to an hour a few times to check for allergic reactions. If you don’t cough, wheeze or show noticeably swollen body parts, you’ve likely found a hypoallergenic pet that’s suitable for you. Keep in mind to consult your doctor first, especially if you have severe allergies or asthma, to ensure your safety.
Also, before bringing home any pet, make sure you know exactly what you’re allergic to by going to an allergist and getting allergy testing if you haven’t done so already. This helps identify substances that you may need to avoid when choosing your pet’s diet or bedding. Once you get a hypoallergenic pet, make sure to prepare a separate room for it, wash its bed frequently and groom it as needed. By taking extra time and effort, you’ll be able to have fun with your pet without worrying too much about your allergies.