Archive for the ‘Allergies’ Category

Simple Solutions for Seasonal Allergies

Posted on: August 24th, 2010 by doctor No Comments

As many as 25% of Americans experience a runny nose, itchy eyes, or asthma due to seasonal allergies.  There are some simple mainstream and alternative approaches that can alleviate symptoms in allergy sufferers.

An allergy is a type of response that occurs when the immune system is reacting to things in the environment that are not in and of themselves a threat.  For example, the danger in a person with a severe allergy to peanuts does not come from the peanut itself, but instead solely from the immune system’s extreme response.  Similarly, pollens, dander, dust mites, and other common allergens do not actually cause the symptoms of seasonal allergies, but trigger immune reactions that cause common symptoms.

The mainstream medical approach to seasonal allergies includes anti-histamines and other drugs that block the immune system’s ability to release natural chemicals that cause allergic symptoms.  These work for many, but not all allergy sufferers.  Another mainstream medical approach is immunotherapy – injections of small amounts of allergens that are designed to decrease your body’s sensitivity to identified allergens.

Another approach that helps many allergy sufferers reduce their symptoms and need for medication is identification and avoidance of non-seasonal allergens that a person’s immune system is reacting to.  This approach reduces a person’s total allergy burden and frequently reduces seasonal allergy symptoms.

Common non-seasonal allergens include dust mites and dander.  Simple steps that can have dramatic effects include: have pets sleep in another room, use dust mite covers on bedding, frequently vacuum with an effective HEPA vacuum, and use indoor HEPA air-purifiers.

Another common non-seasonal allergen is mold.  While HEPA vacuums and air filters can be helpful, the most effective approach is addressing the cause; identify damp places in the home and remedy them with a dehumidifier and, when necessary, minor renovations.

Another common non-seasonal allergen is mold.  While HEPA vacuums and air filters can be helpful, the most effective approach is addressing the cause; identify damp places in the home and remedy them with a dehumidifier and, when necessary, minor renovations.

Lastly, many chronic seasonal allergy sufferers see marked improvement when they identify foods they regularly consume that contribute to their reactions.  Offending foods can be identified through strict dietary avoidance (usually for several weeks) with controlled reintroduction to monitor changes in symptoms.  The hard part is knowing which foods to avoid.  Some specialty lab tests can be very helpful in this process, but many people end up reacting to one or more of the following foods: dairy, eggs, gluten containing grains, soy, or yeasts.

Lastly, many chronic seasonal allergy sufferers see marked improvement when they identify foods they regularly consume that contribute to their reactions.  Offending foods can be identified through strict dietary avoidance (usually for several weeks) with controlled reintroduction to monitor changes in symptoms.  The hard part is knowing which foods to avoid.  Some specialty lab tests can be very helpful in this process, but many people end up reacting to one or more of the following foods: dairy, eggs, gluten containing grains, soy, or yeasts.

There are a couple important things to remember:

  • if you have a serious anaphylactic allergy, always avoid that allergen, and
  • if experimenting with dietary avoidance, make sure the diet still has adequate options, calories, and nutrients – especially for children – because eating should always be fun and healthy.
Be Well,
Richard

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More Benefits of Vitamin D in Pregnancy

Posted on: December 31st, 2008 by doctor No Comments

Two recent articles in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism show that sunlight and vitamin D are important for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child.

One study that involved 253 women in Boston showed that women with vitamin D deficiency had four times the rate of cesarean sections as women with better vitamin D levles.  The levels were measured using the blood test 25-OH Vitamin D which is the best measure of vitamin D status.

Another study shows that the level of ultraviolet B light exposure that women get in their third trimester of pregnancy may result in children that have more lean body mass (like muscle) and stronger bones.  Vitamin D is naturally produced in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet B (from the sun).  Most interestingly, the changes in the children’s lean body mass and bone strength were measured when the children were almost 10 years old!

While these studies are not conclusive, they add to the information that shows just how important vitamin D is for pregnant women and their children.

Be well,

Richard

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