Allergies, Hay Fever and Sinusitis
With the approach of spring and through summer, unfortunately many people suffer from a number of allergy symptoms. These symptoms vary with the causative agent, called an allergen, and with the part of the body affected. The symptoms of allergic reaction include asthma, hay fever and rhinitis, itchy eyes and throat, and sinusitis.
What is an allergic reaction
Allergic reaction occurs when the immune system, which normally only reacts to dangerous foreign substances, "mistakes" the potentially harmless allergen for an invader, such as a virus. The body's immune system reacts to an allergen by producing antibodies and causing the release of histamine. Histamine, in turn, affects the blood vessels and mucous membranes, causing them to swell, become congested and discharge mucus and watery fluid.
The most severe type of allergic reaction is called anaphylactic shock. This is a rare and extreme allergic reaction to an allergen. Common triggers of anaphylactic shock are; bee or wasp stings, penicillin, peanuts and certain types of sea foods. Anaphylactic shock is characterised by a severe drop in blood pressure, trouble breathing, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, swelling of the tongue and throat, which can lead to asphyxiation and death. Anyone suffering from this type of shock needs urgent medical treatment which requires the injection of the hormone adrenalin.
Luckily, most people don't have such severe reactions to allergens however, hay fever, sinusitis and asthma are common and extremely debilitating. These types of allergic reaction are usually caused by airborne pollens from flowers, dust mites, cereal grains, fungi and rust. Moulds also can be devastating to many allergy sufferers. Moulds release particles during their reproductive cycle that are borne in the air, and when inhaled, can trigger an allergic reaction. Other common allergens, include cosmetics, animal fur, feathers, textile dyes, cigarette smoke, bacteria and chemical pollutants in the atmosphere. Even heat, cold, and light may cause allergy in susceptible people.
If you are an allergy sufferer, identifying the cause of the problem and removing it, is an obvious solution, but, it is not always that simple. If the cause is your loved family pet or the polluted air in the city were you work, removal of the problem may not be possible. Don't despair, there are other options open to you. An air filter in the home can remove the animal dander and fur from the air, allowing your loved pet cat or dog to remain the family friend. Its also important to air your house allowing the sun in. This will help reduce the formation of mould and kill dust mites.
Can Supplements help
Herbs and vitamin supplements can bring relief, and even help prevent further attacks. Horseradish and garlic have been used successfully for years in the treatment and prevention of hay fever and allergy symptoms. Horseradish, once ingested, gives off mustard gas, which flushes the sinus and nasal passages, ridding them of the irritants that are causing the problem, at the same time desensitising the delicate nasal membranes and preventing further irritation and attacks. Garlic has an expectorant and drying effect on the sinuses. It will help clear that runny nose, and because of its bacteriostatic and antiseptic properties, it helps treat and prevent the onset of sinusitis. Elder flowers (sambucus) and echinacea are herbs that are also effective in the management of hay fever and sinusitis. Vitamin C, 1,000 mg taken morning and night, lowers the histamine level in the blood and reduces allergic response.
For centuries, the herb Pelargonium sidoides has been traditionally used in South Africa for the treatment of respiratory diseases. The common name for this herb is umckaloabo which is derived from the Zulu language and means “heavy cough”. Today specialised farms using ecological cultivation methods produce P. sidoides.
This herb is now available in Australia from Blackmores in their product Kaloba® which has been clinically proven to provide relief of acute bronchitis symptoms after 7 days (45% of the patients taking Kaloba® experienced recovery after 7 days compared to 6.4% taking a placebo), it also can help speed up recovery.
Preliminary evidence suggests that P. sidoides may assist in acute bronchitis and acute sinusitis by preventing the reproduction of various respiratory viruses and inhibiting the adhesion of certain bacteria to respiratory cells. Kaloba® also helps to clear excess mucus from the respiratory system during acute sinusitis or acute bronchitis.
Foods to avoid
Avoid foods containing sulfite, amine and salicylates, which may cause allergies and may need to be restricted in the diet. If this is the case then remove these foods group by group.
Establish the level of the food group by avoiding eating any of the foods listed under any one of the food groups i.e. salicylate, amine or sulfite for a period of five weeks. You may now add these foods to the diet but this must only be done one food at a time. If the food causes any problems or a recurrence of symptoms then discontinue this food for three months before trying again.
So, before you dive for the antihistamines, consider the natural way and the results could surprise you.
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