What are Allergies?

Allergies (Type I Hypersensitivity) are actually a malfunction of our immune system that triggers our body to become hypersensitized and react immunologically to typically non-immunogenic substances. The substances that cause our bodies to become this way are called allergens.

In 1906, Viennese pediatrician, Clemens von Pirquet, first coined the term “allergies” after he observed that certain symptoms of his patients might have been a response to outside allergens, like dust, pollen, or certain foods.

Signs and Symptoms

You know your allergies are starting if you experience swelling in parts of your body. This is called local or systemic inflammatory response, caused by the presence of allergens. For instance, if your allergies affect you in the nose, you will experience swelling of the nasal mucosa (allergic rhinitis). During this condition, you will probably find yourself performing the “nasal salute” more than necessary as itching of your nose will induce you to wipe your nose in an upward direction.

On the other hand, if the allergies hit you in the eyes, redness and itching of the conjunctiva often follows. Other common signs of allergies are wheezing and dyspnoea, bronchoconstriction, and sometimes outright attacks of asthma. You may also experience various rashes, such as eczema, hives, and contact dermatitis.

Systemic allergic responses are more serious compared to local symptoms. Depending on the severity of your response, allergies can cause cutaenous reactions, bronchoconstriction, edema, hypotension, coma, and even death.

Hay fever is actually one example of minor allergies caused by airborne pollen. But aside from environmental factors, allergies may also be triggered by medications.

Why do we get allergies?

Our immune system is a well-trained and disciplined bio-weapon that protects our bodies from harmful substances. Its mechanics is so amazing that it can identify and destroy many foreign invaders. However, as amazing as our immune system is, it makes mistakes sometimes. And so we have allergies, which, as we mentioned, results from a hypersensitive immune system.

The hypersensitized immune system misidentifies an otherwise innocuous substance as harmful, and then attacks the substance with a degree of ferocity that is greater than required. As a result, we experience problems that can range from mildly inconvenient to uncomfortable to total failure of major organs of the body.

How does the immune system go into a hypersensitized state?

There are actually several ideas on this. Some schools premise that allergies are almost always triggered by protein. Certain persons have faulty genetic codes so that their lymphocytes or the white blood cells (the stuff that your immune system is made of) are unable to property distinguish between the threatening and the non-threatening proteins.

So, for example, when you ingest protein from shellfish, your lymphocytes think that the substance is trying to invade the body. As a result, they produce large amounts of antibodies which attach themselves to mast cells and basophils throughout the body. This is known as the sensitizing exposure and this is the very reason why you suddenly develop allergies.

Are Your Asthma And Allergies Caused By A Low Immune System?

Many people who suffer from asthma and allergies don’t realize it, but a low immune system is very likely at the root of their problems. Medical experts agree that a lowered or improperly functioning immune system can and does result in several diseases such as asthma, allergies, arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome and cancer to name just a few.

The body’s immune systems first line of defense against disease are barriers that prevent antigens, which are large protein molecules of bacteria, viruses, chemicals and other substances that appear harmful from entering your body. The barriers include your skin, mucus, cough reflex, stomach acid and even enzymes in your tears, which destroy toxins. If the antigen or toxin manages to get past these barriers, then the immune system launches a second line of defense, found in your blood. They are white blood cells, which perform a protective function by seeking out and destroying foreign protein antigens.

If you suffer from a low immune system it is important to avoid things that suppress or act to destroy it, such as a high cholesterol diet, heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium), fat, alcohol, fried foods, food additives, obesity, industrial pollutants, pesticides, herbicides, stress, prescription drugs, too much sunlight, tobacco, and radiation.

Unfortunately, there is no “magic bullet” that you can take to quickly repair your immune system, but there are several ways to help build and support it by providing your body with proper nutrition, regular exercise, adequate rest, relaxation and maintaining a positive mental attitude.

Taking the following dietary steps will help protect and build your immune system:

1. Limit saturated and trans fats, food additives and alcohol
2. Take a good quality multi-vitamin/mineral supplement daily
3. Ensure your diet includes adequate protein
4. Take 1000 mg of Vitamin C daily.
5. Eat 3 to 4 servings of vegetables daily.
6. Eat 3 to 4 servings of legumes weekly.
7. Eat 3 to 4 servings of omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods weekly

The length of time required to re-build a low immune system of course will vary depending on your individual situation and environmental exposure to immune system suppressants. This is not an overnight process, for some people it can take three months to two years. Obviously, the higher your exposure has been to immuno-suppressants, the longer it will take to build your immune system. Children tend to heal much more quickly than adults or the elderly.

People with allergies and asthma will find that their asthma and allergy symptoms become less frequent and less severe when their immune systems are strong. It’s important to avoid using allergy and asthma drugs, which have toxic side effects and act to lower the immune system. There are natural supplements that safely and effectively eliminate allergy and asthma symptoms.

Cleaning Up For Hay Fever Allergies

Spring is coming and with it the pollen that is the primary cause of Hay Fever. Start getting ready today and you can reduce the watery eyes, runny nose, and low energy associated with Hay Fever allergies.

How do we reduce the symptoms of Hay Fever? Simply put, we reduce exposure to pollen. Let’s look at a typical American home and understand how to achieve this reduction of pollen exposure.

First we need to make sure that we have air conditioning. While we all enjoy the breeze from an open window, that breeze will carry in the pollen that we want to keep out. Therefore we need air conditioning to keep the inside of our home pleasant. Since some pollen will get inside when door are opened and closed we need to make sure that the filter on is in good shape. Usually the air conditioning system uses the same filter as the furnace. Change to a high-end furnace filter available from 3M, WEB, and Purolator. These are much more effective than your bargain basement home improvement center filters. Next, change the filter monthly during the peak Hay Fever season. It is a small price to pay for a bit of cleaner air.

This next recommendation is simple and inexpensive. When you and your children come home after work or after play take a shower and put on freshly laundered clothes. Your hair, skin, and clothes are ideal places to harbor pollen so don’t spend the evening in your own personal pollen cloud. Get clean! This extra pollen-free time will help you to recover from the day and helps your body get ready for a restful sleep.

Wear a dust mask when you are doing the house cleaning. Many of the dusting and vacuuming devices put almost as much dust and pollen back circulating in the air as they take out. A dust mask will help you from getting a “snoot full” of pollen as you are cleaning. Speaking of vacuum cleaners, you should really have a HEPA vacuum or at least one with a HEPA filter after the bag filter. This will reduce the pollen and other bad stuff that you put back into your home air space.

Now that everything is clean and tidy the job should be done. If you still have sneezing at home the next line of defense is a HEPA air purifier. Put a small one in each bedroom and run them on high during the day. This will create a clean air bubble in which your family can sleep restfully. If there is a family room or other common area put an air purifier there so that just before bedtime you get maximum clean air.

If your family still sneezes see your Doctor for medication to address Hay Fever allergies. There are a number of new drugs that will block the T-Cells which cuse the runny nose due to pollen.

Food Allergies and Fatalities

Every year, millions of people worldwide are affected by allergies to particular foods. It is estimated that in America alone, over 11 million people suffer from potentially life threatening food allergies. It is estimated that over 200 people die each year from allergic reactions to food in the United States. Furthermore, there are approximately 30,000 emergency room visits each year that are attributed to food allergies. These numbers are astounding, to say the least.

There has been a lot of talk in the popular press as of late, regarding food allergies. In fact, the White House recently designated a National Anaphylaxis Day to raise public awareness about the dangers of certain types of food. Anaphylaxis is a term used to describe extreme allergic reactions that have the potential to cause death.

The most troubling element of food allergies is that they are next-to-impossible to diagnose. More often than not, an individual does not realize that they have a food allergy until they are having a reaction. At that time, it is too late to consider preventative measures. The scariest part is that there is literally no way to determine how serious the reaction might be, so the utmost care and consideration must be taken when dealing with an allergic reaction.

Some of the most common foods people are allergic to include nuts (peanuts, walnuts, etc.), shellfish (lobster, shrimp, crab, etc.), eggs, and dairy products (milk, cream, etc.). Now take a moment to consider how many prepared foods contain one or more of the above ingredients. For those suffering from intense food allergies, every meal is like playing a game of chance.

There are few ways to protect one self from having an allergic reaction. The best strategy is simply to be prepared for the worst. You certainly have to be aware of what you are eating, but also of the environment in which the food was prepared. In the case of an individual with peanut allergies, mere traces of the nut can cause like-threatening illness. If you are dining out, be sure to inform the restaurant of any allergies you suffer from. In the kitchen, extra care should always be taken to ensure cross-contamination is not taking place.

As mentioned above, there is no way to determine how severe an allergic reaction might be. The frontline tool for defense against allergic reactions to food is a compound known as epinephrine. Epinephrine is absolutely critical for managing allergic reactions, and could mean the difference between life and death. If you or somebody you know is suffering from food allergies, be sure to consult a physician regarding management strategies. Alternately, you can visit our site for more information.

Getting The Upper Hand On Asthma Allergy

Asthma allergy is the number one form of allergy today. And since asthma allergy is inherited, one can get it at a young age. The diagnosis process for asthma allergy is a simple and very straightforward test and will immediately determine if you do have asthma and not just some other type of allergy.

Symptoms of an asthma allergy

An asthma allergy reaction can vary in degree, from mild to severe. The following are symptoms of an asthma allergy:

· Headache
· Fever
· Chronic coughing
· Chest pain or tightness
· Difficulty in breathing
· Rapid breathing or wheezing
· Scratchy or sore throat
· Itchy, watery eyes
· Runny nose
· Continuous sneezing
· Restlessness

Some of the mentioned symptoms have the same indicators to conditions like pulmonary disease; sinusitis and influenza so make sure you see a doctor for a more precise diagnosis. What you thought as an asthma allergy may actually be something else.

An asthma allergy reaction that is mild to moderate in degree can be identified with tightness of the chest, spewing and coughing up mucus, having difficulty sleeping and constant wheezing.

A severe asthma allergy attack may be characterized by the person having difficulty in speaking, a bluish color to the person’s lips and fingernails, and breathlessness. When this happens, the patient must be ready with their medication.

Asthma Allergy Treatment

The asthma allergy is treated by medicines prescribed by the doctor. These medicines reduce the swelling of the mucous membrane and help normalize the air passage of the person with asthma allergy. Called “controller medicines”, they help ease the pain of the asthma allergy attack:

· Mast cell stabilizers – non-steroidal medications that control the inflammation by stopping the body from releasing inflammatory chemicals.

· Corticosteroids – another anti-inflammatory medication.

· Anti-leukotrienes – it stops the production of leukotrienes that are responsible for the increase in inflammation that causes constriction of the airway muscle and close the windpipes of the patient.

The drugs mentioned are used to help patients with asthma allergy to gain control of their asthma and keep on living a normal life. They are available in capsules, tablets and inhalers. A person suffering from asthma attacks should always bring their medicine along especially since these attacks are unpredictable.

Asthma Allergy Prevention

An asthma allergy attack cannot be prevented since doctors are not sure what causes asthma. But there are ways that a person with an asthma allergy can reduce the symptoms or totally avoid having an attack.

· Keep a clean and dust-free environment by vacuuming the house.

· If you live near a dusty road where cars frequently pass by, pour water on the road in front of your house. This will stop the dust from flying into the home.

· Regularly clean the fan, air-conditioning and other ducts that come in contact with air.

· Avoid places that have plenty of environmental allergens like molds, pollens, animal dander and secondhand cigarette smoke.

· Wear a mask when cleaning the house or going to a place full of allergens.

· Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.

In the end, the only way to defeat asthma is to learn how to live with the condition. Healthy living is a great way to turn one’s life around when a person has asthma. And with the help of modern science, it is not impossible to lead a productive life. Despite an allergic reaction, one should not stop enjoying life even if they have asthma.

Hay Fever – Not Actually A Fever

Hay fever has been given many different names such as allergic rhinitis, pollinosis or nasal allergies. You can contract hay fever due to certain air borne dust particles exposed in the environment. These dust particles can be pollen, dander which can cause allergic reaction. Hay fever problem mainly begins from surroundings by which anyone can be affected. Staying away, from any of the allergy triggering factors is the best solution. Even though in this condition you do not have any fever it is still called hay fever.

The common stimulants which cause this problem are from outdoors as well as indoors. Being surrounded by pollen or animal dander can cause these allergies. It can also be due to the substances found in your home like dust mites, cockroaches, fleas, presence of a pet and many more. Without proper care or treatment it can hinder your day to day life.

The symptoms for hay fever rank from mild to severe. If you are suffering from a mild condition you will face problems like runny and itchy nose, watery eyes, itching, and sneezing. Severe symptoms can last for more than a week. A sense of taste and smell is changed, congestion – causing pain, swelling of eyes which may turn blue due to allergic reaction. This kind of a condition usually develops in an early age and with the passage of time it may worsen.

This condition causes sleeplessness and fatigue which can badly affect you. The chronic condition can cause severe problems like asthma and sinusitis. You may start developing other problems like breathlessness, wheezing and coughing. It may also lead to ear infection due to the fever and pain.

Precautions:

There are no specific remedies which would help. You can follow some precautionary measures to remove the possibility of hay fever.

– Clean your surroundings
– Do not allow pets inside your bedroom
– Be away from dust
– Clean the AC
– Have a ventilated room
– Do not be in a humid environment

Remedy

Essentials oils are great source to get rid of Hay fever. Oils like basil, eucalyptus blue gum, lavender or peppermint can be used. Two or three drops from any one of these oils on a handkerchief can get you relief.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautions while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.

Hayfever information for sufferers

In the last five years it has been reported that there has been a major increase in people suffering from allergies including hay fever in the UK.

In the last two years I have been suffering between the months of April – September with the symptoms of allergies which has resulted in discomfort within this period. With this discomfort in mind I decided to research why I was experiencing these symptoms on the internet and I wanted to share with all sufferers the information I found.

The most likely explanation for this has been documented as a combination of summer starting early and the increasing rates of pollution, pollution traps the pollen in the atmosphere which holds it there. The warmer weather has also been blamed, as it tricks plants into pollinating early. The recent water drought has also been part blamed also for the increase in pollen in the air causing suffering.

Hay fever is an allergy to pollens within the male reproductive parts of plants from grasses and trees. When they come into contact with the tissue inside the nose, they trigger an immune reaction that can cause congestion, sneezing, itching, and a runny nose. It can also be triggered by moulds, which are likely to be found in rainy or humid areas. Trees are reported as starting first then grasses and then weeds. Its timing also depends on location the further north, the later it comes. In the UK, trees start in February with grasses running through the summer and mould spores present until October.

I then was left with the options of trying to find suitable ways of eliminating or atleast reducing my symptoms. There are three types of treatment which include anti-histamine tablets, nasal steroid sprays and anti-allergy injections. Many anti-histamine tablets are available over the counter in chemists. They knock out the body’s immune system, preventing the pollens from producing an uncomfortable response.

Unfortunately some anti-histamine tablets causes drowsiness which can have effects on the body which can be dangerous when operating machinery or driving a vehicle which require attention at all times. There are products which do not cause drowsiness but these are usually more expensive.
What I didn’t know is that a condition called rhinitis gives you the dripping nose in hay fever and also that the pollen season varies by plant. It has also been documented that some people have achieved relief from symptoms by using homeopathic remedies.

It has also been stated that consuming honey produced by bees in your local area or region can help with reducing symptoms. I am currently trialing various over the counter products to counter the effects.

Is Your Summer A Breeze Or A Sneeze? Tips For Coping With Allergies

While the hazy days of summer are a delight to some, for others they bring weeks of relentless sneezes, sniffles and sore eyes.

Hayfever can drive those allergic to pollen crazy as symptoms build day after day with little respite. Here’s a look at summer’s most common allergy affliction and what its streaming victims can do to get some relief.

What is an allergic reaction?
Allergies kick in when our immune system reacts to what it perceives as a threat. In response it produces histamine in abundance. In the case of hay fever, the allergic reaction occurs when pollen particles come into contact with the lining of the nose.

The immune system detects a threat and goes all out to wash it out the way it came. As soon as pollen is airborne the hyper-vigilant immune system in question sends out a decree to “let the streaming commence.”

Why summer?
Hay fever symptoms arise during the summer months because this is the time when pollen and spores are airborne. Rainy days can give relief as pollen and spores are washed to the ground and held captive in a damp environment before things dry up and they get to float around again.

Some hay fever sufferers find that their symptoms persist after the typical pollen season is over. Irritants like tobacco smoke, perfume and fluctuating temperatures can aggravate an already sensitive system and lead to continued irritation.

Barrier Methods
One natural method for dealing with allergies is to use a natural and inert oil like coconut, or almond oil, to protect the lining of the nose from direct contact with pollen or other airborne allergens.

For itching eyes, Ayurveda (the traditional Indian system of natural medicine) has a simple kitchen remedy. Soak a tablespoonful of coriander seeds in a cup of boiling water, cover and leave to cool. Once completely cool, dip a sterile gauze pad in the liquid and then lay back with it resting on your closed eyes.

The Stress Factor
Hay fever loves heat. Be it the weather, or our internal thermostat, symptoms thrive when we’re running too hot. While it’s not easy to keep cool, calm, and collected when everything is itching and irritated, stress is only going to make it worse.

Some sufferers find retreating to a cool showing or swimming pool gives a spell of relaxation and relief from relentless sneezing.

Immune Negotiations
If an immune system is responding to a “perceived” threat that is in reality harmless, one measure we can take to get some relief is to try and convince it that all is OK with the allergen in question.

Give yourself a Helping Hand
EFT is self-help acupressure technique that can settle the immune system and keep stress levels down. If you’re sick of sneezing and reluctant to hoard up on antihistamines for the next 3 months, EFT May be just what you need to get relaxed and stop the sneezes.

Know More About Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is often also called nasal allergy, pollinosis or hay fever, especially when it occurs during the haying season.

Allergic rhinitis is the occurrence of several symptoms, usually in the eyes and in the nose, after exposure to particles that may be airborne like plant pollens, dander and most especially, dust.

An oversensitive immune system is usually cited for the occurrence of allergic rhinitis. Take note that the immune system is your shield against harmful and ailment-causing viruses and bacteria. In some people, immune systems react violently to substances or allergens that are not generally harmful or disease-causing.

The most common and primary cause of allergic rhinitis is allergy to pollen. Pollens are very fine and powder-like substances produced by seed plants’ anthers. Allergic rhinitis can be similar to allergic reactions exhibited in some people by allergies to animal dander, inhaled allergens, mold and dust.

Some of the plants that usually produce pollens that cause reported cases of allergic rhinitis are deciduous and evergreen trees, flowering plants, ragweed and grasses.

Identifying allergic rhinitis

The most common manifestations or symptoms of allergic rhinitis are:

o Nasal congestion or what you call stuffy nose
o Wheezing
o Sore throat
o Sneezing
o Teary eyes
o Runny nose
o Smell impairment
o Headache
o Coughing
o Itching in the mouth, throat, nose, eyes, skin or any other areas in the body

How to treat allergic rhinitis

Remember, most allergies are treatable but not curable. Allergic rhinitis is not an exception.

Treatments or medications available or prescribed for allergic rhinitis only reduce symptoms of allergy caused by inflammation in the infected or affected tissues.

Doctors advise that the best treatment would be prevention, but if you happen to already have it, several medications may be of help.

Antihistamines are usually over-the-counter or do not require prescriptions when you buy them in drugstores. Such medicines, however, are only recommended to relieve mild symptoms or moderate symptoms. Take note that antihistamines may cause drowsiness and should not be taken when driving.

There are antihistamines that are specifically described longer-acting. Included in this category are cetirizine and fexofenadine. These types of antihistamines will unlikely cause drowsiness.

Nasal sprays are the most common form of medications taken for allergic rhinitis. They are safe and effective especially for patients whose symptoms are not reduced by antihistamines.

Decongestants are not exclusive for cough. They can also be used to treat allergic rhinitis.

In taking medications, it is important to first seek a doctor’s recommendation and prescription even if some medicines are non-prescription to ensure health and safety. Proper administration and timing is also important. No one wants to get an overdose right?

Preventing allergic rhinitis

Prevention is better than treatment, as always. To prevent the onset of allergic rhinitis, people with history should try to remain indoors or inside air-conditioned rooms especially during the pollination or hay season.

Remember that most pollinating trees produce and air-spread pollens during spring.

In the case of flowers and grasses, they pollinate during summer and ragweeds produce pollen in early autumn.

Bear in mind these trivial but interesting facts so you would know how to prevent getting another allergic rhinitis episode. It could not be that deadly, but it would really feel uncomfortable. One more thing, who says complications do not kill?

Natural Remedies And Treatments For Allergies

When allergies strike, most allergy sufferers head to the drugstore where they purchase an antihistamine. They take it, and soon their symptoms begin to subside. They’re all set until the next outburst.

Over-the-counter antihistamines are effective but unfortunately, taking them often causes unpleasant side effects such as drowsiness and a feeling of lethargy. If you’re tired of feeling tired when allergies strike, maybe it’s time you reach for natural allergy remedies instead.

Natural allergy remedies come in all forms and are made from many different types of ingredients including herbs, plants, ground up honey bees, and other vitamins and nutrients. Most natural allergy remedies have been designed to either stop histamine outbursts from occurring in the first place, or they act to combat the individual symptoms that occur with the release of histamines. They accomplish these tasks naturally, which is why unpleasant side effects are non-existent.

Besides treating allergy symptoms with all-natural ingredients, the term “natural allergy remedies” has come to mean something more. In addition to being a natural and effective way to treat allergy symptoms after they develop, the term can be used to describe taking control of your surroundings so that you limit exposure to the allergens that cause you trouble. For example, if pet dander is a problem, don’t keep pets. Or if you must, you’ve got to be vigilant about keeping pet dander under control. Likewise with dust mites. You need to protect your furnishings with casings that keep this type of problem under wraps.

Watching what you eat is important if you’ve got food allergies, so taking steps to control your diet can also be considered a natural allergy remedy. In addition to closely monitoring what you eat, there also are foods you can consume that are known to contain naturally-occurring histamine combatants. For example, Quercitin, a flavinoid found in onions and apples, is capable of blocking the release of histamines which cause the familiar allergy symptoms like runny nose, congestion, and itchy, watery eyes. Besides being effective against allergies, there are countless other health benefits of eating these and other types of fruits and vegetables, like lowering your risk of developing heart disease and keeping your blood sugar levels stable.

If you’re like a lot of people and find that monitoring what you eat is too much work, then consider taking a daily multi-vitamin. Many of the vitamins and minerals benefit the immune system which in turn helps keeps the symptoms of allergies under control.

With so many natural allergy remedies being offered, understanding the ingredients as well as the actual benefits of each can be mind-boggling. Even though these types of products are available without a prescription, if you’re confused, it might be advisable to speak with an allergist or someone who specializes in natural remedies. These specialists can help explain how each of the individual ingredients work and why they’re thought to be effective. This type of information may help you decide whether natural allergy remedies are right for you.