Saturday, May 24, 2014

ALLERGIES, A NATURAL APPROACH WITH TREATMENTS

I cannot remember my life without allergies. As a child, I spent many days and nights with my nose completely stuffed up, itchy, swollen eyes, hives and often wheezing lungs. My parents didn't realize that I was allergic to the dogs and cats we had as pets, dust, mold and many other things. With allergies reeking havoc on my body, it left me susceptible to constant upper respiratory infections, earaches and sore throats. Needless to say, I was a sickly kid.
Finally in my early teens, I had allergy testing done and was started on allergy shots. This was a slow process to get my body used to the allergens affecting me. But still being surrounded by many of the offenders, made it a difficult task. It wasn't until I left home and was expecting my first child that I started to feel some relief and was also told that the pregnancy might change my body chemistry, causing me to be less allergic. This seemed to be somewhat true through my first and second pregnancy and I wasn't receiving allergy shots during this time. But I also had been away from cats, dogs and other offenders to my system. Once I reached my late 20's and early 30's, my allergies were back with a vengeance. The symptoms were as intense as they were during my childhood with a stuffy nose to the point of not being able to breathe at all through it, extremely itchy eyes, hives and borderline athsma. 
At this point, I was using traditional treatments such as over the counter medications, prescription medications and an occasional steroid shot called Kenalog. And so the side effects began! Does anyone remember Seldane D? It really helped clear my nasal passages but also gave me a rapid irregular heartbeat. Using the prescription nasal spray had the same effect along with giving me the jitters and the prolonged use of any  nasal spray, prescription or non, is not a good thing. The Kenalog gave me amazing relief but it is after all, a steroid. Steroids are to be used with great caution as they have terrible side effects and don't ever "cure" anything, they just mask the symptoms. I experienced irregularities in my menstrual cycle. My physician said there was no connection to the shot. But just before I started writing this post I was looking at the side effects of Kenalog and was not surprised to see my complaint listed as one of the symptoms! After years of year continuous suffering with allergy symptoms, it was time to start allergy shots again while in my mid 30's. It is a slow process to become desensitized to the many allergens in your surroundings. But after a few years the shots were really helping, along with trying to avoid the many things I am allergic to, dust and mold being at the top of my list and pretty much everywhere!
I continued the shots for about 10 years into my mid 40's. This was about the time my life started heading in a holistic direction. While I do consider allergy shots a holistic treatment because they are not medication, I was tired of feeling "tied" to the shots and finally stopped getting them. Of course my allergies never really went away and without the shots, were flaring up again. But not to the extent of my past experiences. So now I was in search of natural remedies for occasional relief. 
Our bodies change in so many ways as we age and so do our nutritional and supportive needs. My research on allergies brought me to add quercetin plus bromelain, which aids in reducing reactions to offending allergens. I had already started taking a probiotic that is a powerful immune enhancer and MSM, providing relief similar to an antihistamine. These became my nutritional support. But I still needed something for relief during an acute sneezing, stuffed up nasal passages and/or itchy eye episode. This is where homeopathic remedies came in. The first one I tried is Bioallers Mold, Yeast formula (sublingual liquid). It comes in many combinations. You need to find the one/s that work for you. This particular one usually helps me pretty quickly. But I have found that I need to switch up what I use from time to time and am not really sure why but will do whatever works. So just a year ago, I started using Kingbio in the allergy and hayfever formula (spray in mouth) and Hyland's Seasonal Allergy Relief (sublingual tablets). These all give me relief and I never worry about any side effects! But you do need to experiment and find what works for you. There are many natural and homeopathic nasal sprays and washes which are also helpful. They help wash offending allergens from the nasal passages and keep them moist. Some of the sprays, like the ones that contain Xylitol and grapefruit seed extract, also have an antibacterial effect which is good if you are prone to sinus infections. Years ago, my allergy attacks, if uncontrolled, would often lead to sinus infections and an antibiotic. That is no longer the case. 
For itchy, allergy eyes I found many good products to use and also switch them up. My favorite three are: Similasan Allergy Eye Relief Eye Drops, Boiron Optique 1 and a soothing eye mist by Nature's Tears. Again, all of these products can be used often, with no side effects and have provided me with more relief than any over the counter or prescription drops! Using sun glasses while out in pollen laden air is protective and helpful. I also have a pair of non prescription glasses just to protect my eyes when I don't want to wear sun glasses.
I was happy to recently see on a news segment a new allergy treatment just being approved by the FDA. It is a sublingual pill that takes the place of allergy shots. The first one coming out is a blend of tree pollens and more combinations may be in the works. But for effectiveness, the treatment needs to be started about 3 months before the pollen starts flying. This is something I might actually consider doing because a trip to the doctor's office isn't necessary as with allergy shots, except to monitor the first dose. Allergies are truly a difficult condition to deal with but there are natural nutritional and homeopathic solutions that offer safe, effective relief. 
 
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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.     
© 2014