5 Ways To Treat Respiratory Allergies Naturally
5 Ways to Treat Respiratory Allergies Naturally
Allergies are increasing in prevalence globally, especially in the industrialized world where each allergy season is worse than the previous one. It is currently estimated that 20-25% of Canadians suffer from allergies, where productivity at school/work is negatively affected, sleep quality is diminished and overall quality of life is lower. People who suffer from seasonal allergies have a really rough time during certain months of the year and those who experience chronic allergies all year round, have an even harder time dealing with their symptoms.
What are allergies?
An allergy occurs when the immune system overreacts to a harmless substance like pollen, animal dander, mould, dust, foods, air pollution and perfumes. These allergens can cause the immune system to elicit an unnecessary reaction in the body as it perceives these substances as a threat.
The various types of allergic conditions include:
Since respiratory allergies are the most common, that will be the focus on this article.. Respiratory allergies can be chronic or seasonal. Seasonal allergies, like hay fever, tend to be caused by pollen, so symptoms recur the same time every year, usually when the plant is blooming. Chronic allergies, on the other hand, are caused by factors that are present in the environment all year round like animal dander, dust or chemicals. When it comes to respiratory allergies, symptoms can be obvious or they can be hidden.
Most obvious symptoms of respiratory allergies include:
Hidden symptoms of respiratory allergies include:
The hidden symptoms are often caused by an allergen that is chronically present in the air around you, but often the connection of these hidden symptoms to a potential allergy is not made. Medications used to treat allergies like antihistamines and steroids are really only effective at managing the symptoms, but also come with some unwanted side effects such as dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness and blurred vision, and fail to address the root cause of the allergies.
Here are 5 simple steps to treat respiratory allergies naturally:
1st - Identify the allergens
The first step to identifying the allergen is through seeing an allergist who can perform an allergy test through testing various allergens on the surface of skin. Once the allergen is identified, the home environment can be modified to decrease exposure of possible allergens. Below are some examples:
1. Mites - These are spider like creatures that can be found in dust, carpets, drapery etc. They feed off of dead skin cells that we shed off.
2. Pet allergies - Pet allergies are triggered by substances that are found in animal urine, feces and saliva that we breathe in.
3. Mould - Mould grows in dark areas that are poorly ventilated with high moisture levels
4. Chemicals - Formaldehyde is a popular household chemical that can be found in areas of the household such as in laundry/dish detergents, bath soap and body wash.
2nd – Identify food sensitivities
To reduce allergies, you need to reduce the overall toxin burden on the body. During routine body function, the human body produces toxins and is also exposed to environmental toxins that are found in the air. As a result of this, humans have a detoxification pathway in place to remove all of the toxins from the body. Our detoxification organs consist of the liver, kidneys, intestines and skin that work hard to eliminate all accumulated toxins. A good analogy is to visualize the detoxification system as a cup. If you keep filling this cup with the different kind of allergies, like cosmetic allergies, respiratory allergies, and food allergies without emptying the cup, the detox pathways get overwhelmed and congested.
By addressing food sensitivities you can help to empty the cup and reduce the load on our detox pathways which can help to decrease the severity of respiratory allergies.
The top five foods that can lead to sensitivities are wheat, dairy, soy, eggs and corn. Alternatively, a food intolerance test can be done to decipher exactly what food/s are causing the sensitivity.
3rd – Manage your Gut
Your gut microbiome plays a big role in the development of allergies. 90% of your immune cells are made in the gut! So it is important to keep your gut balanced and healthy. Probiotics can help to improve digestion and also limit the absorption of food allergens. When it comes to respiratory allergies look for Lactobacillus Acidophilus strains & Bifidobacterium Lactis strains. These probiotic strains will have the most effect when addressing respiratory allergies. Aim for 10 billion CFU per capsule.
4th – Avoid foods that are high in Histamine
Histamine is a chemical that is released by immune cells when your body comes into contact with an allergen. While histamine helps the immune system do is job of removing offending allergens, it unfortunately causes your blood vessels to swell which leads to harmful inflammation. In addition, the histmaine build up is what is responsible for allergy symptoms (headaches, itchy nose, runny rose, etc.).
In addition to histamine produced in your body, there are also various foods that are naturally high in histamine that should be avoided. Such foods include, dried foods, cheese, wine, fish, cottage cheese, peanuts, red meat and turkey. At the same time, include foods that are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids like, blueberries, blackberries, broccoli, green peppers and papaya. Antioxidants are able to modulate the immune system and prevent histamine from being released which can help to reduce allergy symptoms.
5th – Consider nutritional supplements
Supplements can help to decrease histamine levels which would lower inflammation in the body to help decrease allergic symptoms.
Remember, the earlier you intervene and treat your allergies the sooner you will start to feel better! So if you suffer from seasonal or chronic allergies, speak with your Naturopathic Doctor to see how can they help you!
The advice in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician.