by Dr. Bill Rawls
Last Updated 11/01/16
Spring has almost sprung, bringing with it April showers, May flowers, and a multitude of airborne allergens. Many individuals are absolutely plagued by chronic sinusitis caused by allergies to dust, mold, and pollen of various sorts. When clinically tested, many of these individuals find that they are “allergic to everything.” They spend their lives being chronically treated with antihistamines, nose-sprays, and rounds of antibiotics.
What causes chronic allergies?
The underlying process of chronic allergies is Chronic Immune Dysfunction, but the causes are the same as with any other disease—toxins, unhealthy food, microbes and chronic stress. And as with any other disease, treating the symptoms with drug therapy alone will not provide a cure. The real solution is restoring normal immune function. This is accomplished by decreasing or eliminating the causes—reduction of offending allergens is good place to start, but measures must also be taken to restore the balance of normal health.
The concept of an “allergy threshold” is very important. Most people do not become symptomatic until they reach a certain threshold of exposure. At this point, the immune system becomes overwhelmed and symptoms occur—a single trigger can be explosive. The most important way to avoid going over the threshold is by decreasing exposure. Allergy testing for not only airborne allergies, but also food sensitivities, can assist the individual in avoiding exposure to specific allergens.
The most obvious choice for reducing airborne allergens indoors is filtering the air. Air conditioner/heater filters should be changed every three months. Free-standing HEPA filter systems can be situated in rooms where most time is spent such as bedrooms and offices. Though outdoor air is not under personal control, knowledge of weather, ozone, pollen and pollution is readily available, and the choice can be made to stay inside! Washing away allergens is another effective tactic. During pollen season, nasal washes with xylitol solution help to flush away allergens. Facial steam baths can help sooth mucous membranes in the nasal cavity. Try adding a drop or two of concentrated eucalyptus oil. Certain supplements taken on a regular basis during allergy season can optimize immune function and decrease the need for antihistamines and other pharmaceuticals. Vitamin C, quercetin, and bromelain are well known for calming the immune response to allergens. Probiotics are also important for restoring normal immune function.
Humidity that is too low or too high can adversely affect healing of sinus membranes. Ideal humidity is between 30 and 50%. Instruments to measure humidity are available at any hardware store. Properly functioning air conditioning lowers humidity and inexpensive room humidifiers increase humidity. Many people find that regular use of far-infrared sauna is very helpful in reducing symptoms.
Management of chronic allergies must extend beyond the nose. Symptoms associated with airborne allergies are frequently tied to gastrointestinal dysfunction and food sensitivities. Excessive consumption of wheat and dairy adversely affects intestinal function and contributes to hyper-stimulation of the immune system. Chronic emotional stress disrupts the balance of normal immune function and can be a major contributor to perpetuation of chronic allergies.