Written by: Dr. Loreen Dawson, ND
Pollen in the spring, grass in the summer, mold in the fall and dust mites in the winter can all leave you feeling miserable if you are one of the 20 to 25% of the population who has some type of environmental allergy. The incidence of allergies has risen dramatically in the past 50 years, but the reasons for this remain unclear. Allergies may be seasonal, as in hay fever, or year round, as in pet allergies. Allergy symptoms vary, but may include itchy or watery eyes, headache, stuffy or runny nose, post nasal drip, sneezing, itchy or sore throat, cough, fatigue, insomnia and a worsening of asthma symptoms.
Allergy symptoms occur when your immune system over reacts to a common substance in your environment. A type of cell in your body called mast cells release histamine which causes most of the symptoms associated with allergies. Simple approaches such as daily use of a neti pot, or a good quality air filter in your bedroom will often be helpful, depending on the cause of the allergy. Standard medical treatments may include decongestants, anti-histamines, inhalers or steroid sprays, and, for many people, these will suppress the symptoms as long as they are taken regularly. Repeated allergy desensitization shots can also be helpful for some people.
Natural treatments such as nettles, vitamin C, quercitin, and various homeopathic remedies can also provide relief of allergy symptoms, generally without any side effects. These may be excellent substitutes for those who get side effects or limited benefit from standard treatments, or for those who prefer a more natural approach.
Naturopathic physicians can help you figure out which allergy treatment approach may work best for you, given your unique array of symptoms. More importantly though, naturopathic physicians will strive to find and correct the root cause of your allergies. Allergies are a sign of a deranged immune system. Your immune system is not responding to your environment the way that it should. By exploring and correcting the underlying conditions which have caused your immune system to behave this way, you can stop the cycle of recurring allergy symptoms and the need for allergy symptom suppression. Imagine being able to spend a beautiful spring or summer day outside without worrying about sneezing and itchy eyes or, to be able to spend time with a pet without congestion. The elimination or dramatic reduction in environmental allergies is possible for the vast majority of people