Do you have seasonal allergies and yet you are taking an anti-histamine year round? Do you have a constant runny nose or phlegm going down the back of your throat? Do you have asthma?
I think of the histamine system like a bathtub. Anything that raises the level of water in the bathtub has the tendency to cause it to overflow and you have symptoms. Keep this visual in mind as I explore and explain why your so called seasonal allergies are more than you think. READ ON to learn the ONE thing you need to do to not only decrease how severe your seasonal allergies but maybe even be able to get off daily anti-histamines…
Let’s go back to our bathtub scenario. There is no doubt that when pollen counts are high these all contribute to the level of water raising in our bathtubs. Sometimes just one particular allergen can take an empty bathtub to overflowing in one fell swoop but often it is more of a combination effect. The key question to ask is what else can raise the levels of water in your bathtub making the seasonal allergies more problematic? Before I answer this let me ask you a few questions…
- Do you wake up with your fingers slightly swollen?
- Rings are tight on occasion especially in the morning?
- Have intermittent headaches?
- Have intermittent bloating and can’t figure out why?
- Any gut issues like diarrhea, constipation, excess gas or burping?
- Interstitial cystitis – which is the feeling like you constantly have a urinary tract infection?
- Can create a red line on your arm just by using your fingernail and it stays for several minutes before resolving?
There are more questions I could ask but this is a good start. If you have ANY one of these then you are definitely filling up your bathtub way before seasonal allergies even arrive. This is because you are EATING something that is causing histamine to be excessively released. You have a food sensitivity and maybe a food allergy. The ONE thing you need to do if figure out your food triggers! Let’s explore the differences.
Food allergies are the typical type of reactions you think of. You eat peanuts and your throat swells. These reactions go down a particular pathway and are called IgE reactions. Allergists test for these reactions with the RAST (skin prick) testing as well as IgE blood tests. Testing for allergies to pollen, animals and some foods can be evaluated this way. Allergy injections and drops are geared to desensitizing these reactions.
Majority of the reactions I was asking about in the above questions are not true allergies but actually sensitivities. They will be MISSED on IgE testing completely. You will be told you have no allergies. There are two different pathways you can react to a food though – the IgG and IgA pathways. IgG food sensitivity testing is targeting delayed reactions. This doesn’t you’re your reaction can’t happen immediately it is just a different mechanism of action and can occur anytime from when you eat that food but also the following day or even a few days later. Allergist and most traditional physicians don’t believe in this testing because the results won’t give you an exact answer. It doesn’t say … you have a sensitivity to broccoli. All it says is that broccoli is a suspect. It is your job to do the elimination diet of the suspected foods and isolate which one is the trigger. While there are IgA tests available, at this time I think they are not very reliable so I have a tendency to stay away from them.
Even though you may eat healthy, you may be eating something that is not healthy for you! While the big bad uglies that are common culprits include gluten, corn, dairy and soy it might just be something like black pepper, iceberg lettuce, chicken etc (I have seen all of these be major triggers!!). I have used the ALCAT test to help guide people on this journey for over 16 years and it is my go to test. There are other tests available and I still think this one is the most accurate. That being said while you are doing this elimination it can still miss foods because of activation of the two pathways that this test doesn’t evaluate. At the end of the day, if you realize a food is causing you a problem you need to eliminate it!
If you don’t want to do the blood test (ALCAT) then take a look at the Virgin Diet by JJ Virgin. It is basically an elimination diet that walks you thru an elimination diet of the big bad uglies.
I have countless stories of patients who after figuring out food sensitivities reported decrease in allergy symptoms in general, decreased asthma as well as resolution of the many other symptoms that I raised a question about above. Many people just become super diligent in food elimination during high allergen times to diminish symptoms and are more lax the rest of the year and do just fine. Just because you find a food trigger doesn’t mean it is forever gone. Every person is different on how sensitive they are and your own reactions will guide you.
To your health,