I had this post all set to post today but after attending a great webinar last night I had to add a few more “interesting facts” that were shared by Dr. Sarah Oulahen HBHSc, ND.

Whether you are affected by seasonal allergies (happening only at specific times of the year) or perennial allergies (occurring throughout the year and possibly for many months) they impact our health, our mood and our overall enjoyment of life.

So why are some of us affected by allergies and all the lovely symptoms that go along with them? Well it’s thanks to our immune system and its over-reactive response to what it is interpreting as a threat. Our immune system produces antibodies, some of which protect us from sickness/infection and some of which identify allergens as harmful to us. When we come in contact with these allergens they are falsely reacted upon by the immune system; this immune system response can inflame your skin, sinuses, airway and digestive system.

Typical allergic responses are things like:

  • Nasal congestion

  • Coughing

  • Wheezing

  • Itchiness and hives

  • Shortness of breath

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue

Common allergens include things like:

  • Dust/dust mites

  • Animal hair/dander

  • Pollen

  • Mold

  • Insect venom

  • Common drugs like penicillin

  • Some food additives like sulfur dioxide

  • Chemicals found in soaps, washing detergents and cleaning supplies

Foods can also provoke an allergic reaction, common food allergens for children include items like:

  • Eggs

  • Milk

  • Peanuts

  • Soy

  • Wheat

And common food allergens for adults include:

  • Shrimp

  • Lobster

  • Crab

  • Strawberries

  • Chocolate

Distinguishing between food allergy and food intolerance is important and the two are often confused. A food allergy occurs when the body produces/generates an antibody response to the ingested food item whereas food intolerance is the inability to digest and process a particular food item leaving us feeling bloated, gassy etc. A true food allergy is much more rare than a food intolerance but both can be detrimental to our health and wellness. Food allergies can provoke a life threatening allergic response called anaphylaxis.

So what can we do to ease the symptoms that come along with allergies so we aren’t feeling so miserable? The absolute best strategy is sometimes the hardest one! We want to AVOID the allergen (trigger) as much as possible and we can do so by incorporating some of the following strategies into our routine:

  • Utilize one of the great apps that will keep you posted on pollen counts, molds etc. in your area (The Weather Network and WebMD have good alerts)

  • On “high alert” days keep windows closed and if possible the air conditioning on to reduce exposure

  • On “high alert” days try to plan your day so that you are spending reduced time outdoors and that you are limiting physical exertion activities (jogging, hiking etc.) during this time

  • If you have been spending time outdoors change your clothing upon returning home; pollen can linger on your clothing

  • Sleep with your bedroom window closed during high alert days and be sure to wash/change your bedding often

  • Mattress and pillow covers can help to reduce exposure; particularly when dust/dust mites seem to be the culprit

  • When possible have someone else do the lawn maintenance (grass cutting), if this is not possible then consider wearing a mask during this time

  • Be sure to shower and change your clothing after outdoor time and especially if you’ve been cutting the grass or doing other lawn maintenance

Determining food allergens/sensitivities can be difficult. The best way to determine what food items may be leading to your symptoms is to begin keeping a food journal and “listening to your body”.

  • Write a list of suspected food allergens and then begin to log in your journal how often (over the next 4 weeks) you are consuming these items.

  • For the next 4 weeks eliminate these suspected items from your meal plans to give your body a “break” from them

  • Reintroduce the food items over the next 4 weeks, slowly and one at a time; be sure to keep your journal and “listen to your body”

Some of the symptoms you want to watch for include things like:

  • Acne

  • Headaches

  • Hemmorrhoids

  • Asthma

  • Intestinal problems

  • Sinus problems

  • Muscle disorders

  • Arthritis

  • Depression

  • Fatigue

  • Insomnia

  • Chest and shoulder pain

  • arthritis