Dr. Chris Magryta: Be sneeze-free this Spring
Allergy sufferers are feeling the pain as the trees release their mother lode of pollen in the deciduous North Carolina countryside and all over the US.
Suffering in sneezy, itchy silence is no longer a necessary evil.
I always like to prevent, treat and resolve:
1) Daily – It all starts in the gut. Diet is the key. Dramatically increase your consumption of colored vegetables and fruits for the micronutrients that they are loaded with. Green leafy vegetables and berries are highest on the list of beneficial foods. Lots of fiber promotes healthy bacteria that dampen the immune system and enhance healing.
Reduce animal protein intake which can over stimulate the immune system and keep the body inflamed. Always choose grass fed and hormone free meats. When you ingest beef that is finished with corn, you cause more inflammation to your gut and worsen your allergies. Same issue with farm raised fish. Avoid dairy where possible.
Consider a high quality probiotic for gut health.
2) Long term – desensitizing is the best method for altering the immune system’s approach to allergens. Old school methods are via injection under the skin known as SCIT. It takes three to five years to reap full benefit, but is beneficial. The downside is the risk of adverse reactions, cost and the frequent visits to the doctor. The better approach which is widespread in Europe is known as SLIT, sublingual immune therapy. This method retrains the immune system through daily drops of allergens under the tongue. It also takes years, but has the benefit of being done at home and NO risk of anaphylaxis/bad reaction.
We have great results with this method in our office. An added benefit of SLIT is that it also helps to reduce the asthma and eczema burden in atopic individuals.
3) Short term treatment – drugs vs herbs?
The drug landscape has antihistamines like benadryl, zyrtec and others available orally. Intranasal varieties like astelin are useful for some. Intranasal steroids work very well chronically, but have side effects of nose bleeds and irritation.
I like some herbal therapies like stinging nettles and quercetin. D Hist is a combo herbal therapy that has excellent symptom relief with no major side effects.
4) A very useful therapy is nasal washing. Use a neti pot or sinus rinse with sterile water to clear out allergens twice daily. Consider a shower to wash off pollen after being outdoors for a while. Avoidance always trumps treatment. Use high quality house filters and consider a HEPA filter machine in your bedroom.
5) Consuming omega 3 fats as fish oil or small oily fish in the diet is a good way to reduce the eicosanoid inflammatory overload in allergies. Americans are overloaded with omega 6 fats that are pro inflammatory and insufficient in omega 3 fats, based on historical norms.
6) Taking vitamin D and zinc supplements can be beneficial for immune function if you are insufficient. It’s worth testing these micronutrients and supplementing as needed.
Other options to explore are acupuncture, hypnotherapy and homeopathy.
Be sneeze free!
Dr. Chris Magryta is a physician at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. Contact him at email@example.com