The World Allergy Association has named April 13-19 as World Allergy Week. Chances are, you don’t exactly want to celebrate your allergies, but this designation helps raise awareness of the widespread impact of allergy, and draw together collaborative clinical efforts and attention to decrease the suffering of the millions of people affected by allergy and the related conditions of asthma and eczema.
In the US, allergy is the 5th most common chronic disease, affecting 1 in 6 Americans, with annual health care costs reaching around $14 million.
Allergy season had an early beginning in the Northwest this year, owing to the warm winter weather we experienced. Tree pollens are out in full force, and grasses will start pollinating soon. Allergy season may feel longer than usual.
The most common symptoms of allergy include itching, sneezing, watery eyes and nose, all classic hay fever symptoms. Some people experience fatigue, nasal congestion, and cough due to postnasal drip, and difficulty sleeping at night due to allergy symptoms. If you are or if you know one of those people, you should know that there is a lot that can be done to decrease symptoms and live more comfortably throughout the season.
We recommend consulting a physician about allergy to determine if you are experiencing true allergy symptoms, or a viral or other illness. A physician can also determine if your symptoms are due to a non-allergy irritant such as smoke, chemicals, and other triggers, or if you have a mixed picture. A thorough history will suggest which types of allergens to which you are most likely sensitive.
The first step towards controlling symptoms is to make simple adjustments to your environment to remove as many of the irritants as possible, and medications and supplements are recommended for symptom control. Beyond this, allergy testing is recommended to determine your specific sensitivities.
Allergy shots and drops are two types of desensitization treatments that change your sensitivity to the allergens. At Heart Spring Health, we offer skin prick allergy testing and sublingual allergy drops to treat allergies to tree, grass, and weed pollens, as well as mold, animals and dust mites.
Dr. Laura Menk-Otto is a naturopathic physician.