It is all down the grassy hill

Desensitizing programs have been alleviating mild to severe allergy symptoms for years. Programs designed to desensitize work extremely well because they teach the body not to overreact to harmless pollutants.

Desensitizing programs have been alleviating mild to severe allergy symptoms for years. Programs designed to desensitize work extremely well because they teach the body not to overreact to harmless pollutants.

by Dr. Paul Stallone — 

Spring is the notorious season that causes havoc for those who suffer from allergies. During this time of year, pollen counts rise as plants produce more pollen than at any other time. This year seems to be exceptionally worse than previous years. Many factors could be causing an all-time high in allergy attacks.

Some experts say that the year 2013 is a “perfect storm,” with its recent combination of haboobs, freezing temperatures and drought. These factors affect each other and allergy symptoms. Haboobs are giant dust storms that can take days, if not longer, to settle down. The problem is that just because the dust stops blowing, it does not mean it is gone. Dust silently lurks everywhere and anywhere.

Normally, with an average yearly rainfall, dust gets integrated back into the ecosystem, whereas during a drought, it floats from one surface to another. The large expanses of pavement, buildings and other surfaces block dust and dirt from returning to the earth’s top layer, resulting in these particles piling up.

The freezing weather the Valley recently experienced has resulted in the death of countless plants across the city. These dead plants become brittle and break apart easily, eventually ending up as floating pieces that can make their way into the body, triggering an allergic response. Rain aids in plant decomposition, which nourishes the soil, but more importantly, adds to the issue of dead plant matter hovering around.

On the surface, it seems like a rainy season would clear up most situations that increase allergies; however, there is another factor that experts say is going to make allergies much worse in the years to come — global warming. The warmer weather actually triggers plants to pollinate earlier in the year, thus generating more pollen and extending the allergy season.

The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) is rising in the atmosphere, which, in general, speeds plant growth. The problematic or allergenic plants produce more pollen to the tune of three to four times more, and the pollen may actually become more potent, according to some experts.

A pollen count (the number of grains of pollen in a cubic meter of air) of 120 is considered high. Pollen counts averaged 8,455 in 2000, and by 2040, according to projections, those counts are expected to reach 21,735. A study released in 2011 confirmed that ragweed, the main cause of fall seasonal allergies, now sheds pollen for up to a month longer than it did in 1995 in some areas of North America.

Many agree that over-the-counter medications will cease to treat symptoms, and most people will not find relief. Imagine the absolute worst allergy season and nothing works to stop itchy eyes, running noses or constant sneezing.

An already effective allergy program is no doubt going to gain in popularity as other methods fail. Desensitizing programs have been alleviating mild to severe allergy symptoms for years. Programs designed to desensitize work extremely well because they teach the body not to overreact to harmless pollutants.

Allergy symptoms are produced when the immune system detects a matter that it sees as dangerous. The immune system then triggers an all-out attack, resulting in a variety of symptoms. By training the immune system not to react in this way, symptoms are prevented.

Certain sublingual drops have been shown to be the safest and easiest to administer. Unlike the allergy shot, which a doctor must administer, followed by a waiting period in the doctor’s office in case of an allergic reaction, these drops are safe and taken at home. Both programs introduce a tiny, minuscule amount of allergens, which are increased over time, gradually allowing time for the immune system to become familiar with them.

This process needs to be completed before allergy season begins for best results, but it is never too late to start. Sublingual drops have helped with some food allergies and asthma in patients, as the immune system is better at reacting to sensitive matter. The drops are safe for young children and have no known contradictions with other medications or conditions.

As allergy season becomes longer and more aggressive, those who are prone to attacks are going to need a better defense than just waiting to treat their symptoms. During the beginning stages of sublingual immunotherapy, certain herbs and supplements can greatly aid in addressing symptoms.

As everyone’s symptoms are going to vary, it is indispensable to have a naturopath guide the way through the endless amount of supplements. An individualized care plan can be the difference between making it through allergy season and actually enjoying the time.

 

Paul Stallone, N.M.D., founded the Arizona Integrative Medical Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. He combines natural, alternative and conventional treatments to best fit each patient’s needs. drstallone.com or 480-214-3922.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 32, Number 2, April/May 2013.

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