Why do allergies occur?
Allergies occur when your body’s immune system overreacts to an allergen, which is a particle in the environment that is normally harmless. Some examples of allergens include pollen, dust, mold, medications, foods, additives to processed foods cleaning products, and animal dander. One potential cause for such a high rate of allergies is the excess use of antibiotics, which negatively affects the immune system causing it to hyper-react to allergens. People affected by allergies have an increased risk for developing asthma.
What are common symptoms of allergies?
Allergens can affect many different areas of your body such as the nasal passages, skin, intestinal tract, and lungs. Because allergens can affect so many areas, there is a very wide array of possible associated symptoms, such as itchiness, postnasal drip, swelling, wheezing, sneezing, shortness of breath, and even vomiting or diarrhea. Furthermore, exposure to allergens can cause symptoms to present within minutes, or it may take days to manifest.
How are allergies diagnosed?
The most commonly used allergy test by the medical community is the scratch (aka skin prick test). This test is relatively effective at identifying allergens, but it carries the rare risk of a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. Safer tests include the radioallergosorbent test and the enzyme linked immunosorbent assay, which test blood levels of specific antibodies. Another method of identifying allergens is the elimination-challenge diet. This diet involves the removal of certain foods for two or more weeks. The patient documents their symptoms while slowly continuing to remove specific foods until all allergic symptoms resolve. Then, the foods removed during the diet are slowly and systematically reintroduced until symptoms reappear. This method is effective at identifying allergies caused by food, but is very difficult to follow and results in low levels of patient compliance.
What are the medical treatments for allergies?
The medical model’s primary method of treating allergies is by instructing the patient to avoid the identified allergen (which may not even be a possibility) and treating the symptoms with pharmaceutical prescription or over-the-counter drugs that depress the body’s immune response to the allergens. Such drugs include antihistamines, decongestants, and steroids.
Treating allergies with medications can be effective at decreasing symptoms, however there are some people who find little to no relief with this method. And, like most medications, there are many side effects to these drugs, some of which are potentially deadly. Furthermore, treating allergies with medication does not address the main problem of why the body is overreacting to a normally harmless particle.
Can natural remedies help those suffering with allergies?
Yes! Many people who have been diagnosed with allergies have experienced significant reduction in their symptoms through natural means. Here at Natural Health Practices, the first step we take to help those suffering with allergies is to support the normal physiology of the body with special concentration on the immune system. If the immune system is functioning properly, it will be able to respond appropriately to any allergen it encounters. Additionally, we help patients identify the specific allergens causing their symptoms through a specialized technique called Nutrition Response Testing. Nutrition Response Testing is a non-invasive way to determine the underlying cause of allergies and other health concerns. Many patients respond quickly and favorably to this natural method of treatment, which addresses the cause of the problem rather than merely suppressing the symptoms.
If you are interested in a natural approach to handling your allergies, please contact our friendly staff at the Natural Health Practices Port Orange office by calling (386) 307-8207. Also, please check out our new patient information video to learn more about our nutrition and natural healthcare programs.