Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is a type of inflammation in the nose which occurs when the immune system overreacts to allergens in the air. Signs and symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, red, itchy, and watery eyes, and swelling around the eyes. The fluid from the nose is usually clear. Symptom onset is often within minutes following exposure and they can affect sleep, the ability to work, and the ability to concentrate at school. Those whose symptoms are due to pollen typically develop symptoms during specific times of the year. Many people with allergic rhinitis also have asthma, allergic conjunctivitis, or atopic dermatitis.
Allergic rhinitis is typically triggered by environmental allergens such as pollen, pet hair, dust, or mold. Inherited genetics and environmental exposures contribute to the development of allergies. Growing up on a farm and having multiple siblings decreases the risk. The underlying mechanism involves IgE antibodies attaching to the allergen and causing the release of inflammatory chemicals such as histamine from mast cells. Diagnosis is usually based on a medical history in combination with a skin prick test or blood tests for allergen-specific IgE antibodies. These tests, however, are sometimes falsely positive. The symptoms of allergies resemble those of the common cold; however, they often last for more than two weeks and typically do not include a fever.
Exposure to animals in early life might reduce the risk of developing allergies to them later. A number of medications may improve symptoms including nasal steroids, antihistamines such as diphenhydramine, cromolyn sodium, and leukotriene receptor antagonists such as montelukast. Medications are, however, not sufficient or are associated with side effects in many people. Exposing people to larger and larger amounts of allergen, known as allergen immunotherapy is often effective. The allergen may be given as injections just under the skin or as a tablet under the tongue. Treatment typically lasts three to five years after which benefits may be prolonged.
Allergic rhinitis is the type of allergy that affects the greatest number of people. In Western countries, between 10–30% of people are affected in a given year. It is most common between the ages of twenty and forty.The first accurate description is from the 10th century physician Rhazes. Pollen was identified as the cause in 1859 by Charles Blackley. In 1906 the mechanism was determined by Clemens von Pirquet. The link with hay came about due to an early (and incorrect) theory that the symptoms were brought about by the smell of new hay.
‘Thunderstorm Asthma’ Kills 8 in Australia
SYDNEY, Australia — When David McGann left his office in Melbourne just after 5 p.m. to cycle home, a stifling heat had settled across the city, and the temperature was peaking at 95 degrees.
A hot, gusty northerly wind picked up. Rain clouds had gathered across the skyline, but there was little relief. “It was the hottest day of the season,” said Mr. McGann, 35, who manages accounts at a law practice. “By the time I got home and had a swim, my chest had started to tighten.”
Mr. McGann’s partner, Kelli Morris, kissed him goodbye at their apartment to join teammates playing in a nighttime netball competition. When she returned, he was on the couch, sitting quietly, struggling for breath. The inhaler he found after rummaging through drawers was five years past its expiration date.
Mr. McGann was one of thousands of people in Melbourne having an attack of thunderstorm asthma. They flooded the city’s emergency rooms, swamped ambulance call lines and joined lines around pharmacies during six hours on Nov. 21. All were struggling for breath. About 8,500 people went to hospitals. Eight have died, and one remains in intensive care more than a week after a thunderstorm surged across Melbourne, carrying pollen that strong winds and rain broke into tiny fragments.
Perennial ryegrass seeds were swept up in whorls of wind and carried from four million hectares of pasturelands (about 9.9 million acres) that lie to Melbourne’s north and west. If broken into fragments, they are so fine that they can be inhaled.
Allergies Need to Be Addressed Using a Multi-Prong Approach
Avoiding triggers can certainly be helpful, but to really address your allergies you need a multi-faceted approach that includes optimizing your diet, intestinal health, and vitamin D levels.
An estimated 80 percent of your immune system is located in your gut, so supporting your digestive health is essential to also supporting your immune system, which is your primary defense system against all disease.
Allergies are a sign that your immune system is in overdrive, and diet, gut health, and vitamin D are all important components that will help optimize your overall immune function.
One common reason for an overactive immune system is “leaky gut” syndrome. If gaps develop between the cells (enterocytes) that make up the membrane lining your intestinal wall, it allows substances to pass through that really should be confined to your digestive tract.
This includes undigested proteins, which can cause allergic reactions. Besides being associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease, leaky gut can also be a contributing factor to allergies.
Once the integrity of your intestinal lining is compromised, and there is a flow of toxic substances “leaking out” into your bloodstream, your body also experiences significant increases in inflammation, which places an increased workload on your immune system.
Eating Right and Optimizing Your Vitamin D Levels Is Part of the Long-Term Solution
So what causes leaky gut? The foods you eat play a paramount role, for obvious reasons.
Grains can damage your gut in a number of ways, for example. Not only do they contain anti-nutrients that may damage your gut, many are also highly contaminated with glyphosate, which has been shown to wreak havoc on your intestinal health.
Glyphosate has been shown to severely damage your gut flora and cause chronic diseases rooted in gut dysfunction, and the use of glyphosate on wheat crops has risen in tandem with the rise in celiac disease.
Genetically engineered foods, which are pervasive in the American diet, also tend to be far more allergenic than conventional ones, by virtue of producing foreign proteins that have never existed in the human diet before. Research has found that junk food increases a child’s risk of asthma and allergies, so certainly, avoiding processed foods in general can, at the very least, reduce your risk.
“Healing and sealing” your gut has been shown to help alleviate allergy symptoms, and the key to this is eliminating inflammatory foods like grains and processed foods, and introduce healthier ones that will support a proper balance of bacteria in your gut. Traditionally fermented foods is one essential component of a gut-healthy diet, but trading out processed foods for whole, fresh (ideally organic) foods is also important.
Additionally, as it pertains to your diet, about one-third of seasonal allergy sufferers have something called “oral allergy syndrome,3” in which your immune system is triggered by proteins in some foods that are molecularly similar to pollen. Your immune system looks at the protein molecule and says, “Close enough!” and attacks it. If you are allergic to ragweed, for example, you may have cross-sensitivity to melons, bananas, tomatoes, zucchini, sunflower seeds, dandelions, chamomile, and Echinacea. If you have a grass allergy, you may also react to peaches, celery, tomatoes, melons, and oranges. If this applies to you, you’ll want to avoid such foods.
Connie’s comments: Stay away from allergens, get sunshine, sleep more and strengthen your immune system.