Allergy season: How to get relief - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Allergy season: How to get relief

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(ARA) - As the winter snow melts, the long-awaited sun seems to shine a little longer and that's when the buds-to-blossom routine begins. For many allergy sufferers, however, the beauty of spring means running immediately to the nearest drugstore to pick up a few extra boxes of tissues and maybe a box of antihistamines.

Environmental changes are often tagged as the culprits that cause allergies because they introduce some guilty particle to our biological systems, causing our bodies to react negatively, and we want to take guard. The distress seems to be brought on by nature, or we blame an adorable pet.

John Sheffield, assistant professor of Physician Assistant Studies at South University, worked as a physician assistant in the Army, and he has seen a lot of combat against the body's struggle with allergens. He currently teaches courses on allergy and immunology, and diseases of the head and neck at South University's campus in Savannah, Ga.

"Generally people with allergies understand how they evolve. A trigger, or what we call an allergen, enters the body and causes a symptom," Sheffield explains. "So, when the nose starts running, the eyes start watering or a skin rash appears, what we really want to know then is how can I stop this?"

We want to understand why our bodies feel they are under attack, and we want to figure out how we can be free of whatever plagues our respiratory system. Genetics and environment are traditionally fingered as the culprits and, in some cases, the solutions to understanding allergic reactions. Since allergies are clearly a cause-and-effect reality, a natural tendency is to start to examine the problem from the outside in.

"Timing is very important," Sheffield says. "Pay attention if you are having an allergic response and notice if the reaction happens at a specific time of the year. Simple observation can help narrow down a probable allergen, especially when it comes to seasonal allergies.

"Drinking alcohol and smoking is common, and whether you directly participate or not, we all experience to some degree the effects of toxicity on our planet. This exposure to chemical agents that can cause allergies also predisposes us to cancers of the head, throat, mouth, voice box and sinuses," he explains.

With this thought in mind, allergists to holistic healers typically recommend the best approach to long-term relief is avoidance. The natural healing process often requires avoiding highly processed foods, alcohol, tobacco and other direct or indirect toxins the body ingests from the environment. Often, health care practitioners will urge the avoidance of the allergen itself. However, given poor air quality and other toxins in the environment, personal avoidance of allergens can become a nearly impossible recourse for the average person.

"When you are suffering and need instant relief, what works the quickest and what most allergists will prescribe readily these days are antihistamines and steroidal nasal sprays. A quick dose of steroids has become a cornerstone of therapy to decrease inflammation in the nose almost immediately where the chain reaction of events begins," Sheffield continues. "This type of therapy brings the patient complete and almost instant relief even though it may be temporary. The sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itching and rashes, all the signs that an allergen has created greater inflammation within, is stifled until the next round."

So, what can we do to prevent "the next round?" Build immunity. This is why allergists prescribe taking controlled doses, or injections, of the allergen in order to mount a defense within the body so it no longer reacts to the allergy-causing agent in a violent manner. Alternative healing methods recommend detoxifying the liver, the internal organ where many allergy-causing toxins in the body reside and go to be eliminated.

Ultimately with allergies, lowering susceptibility to the allergen through avoidance and a healthier lifestyle will keep us moving and breathing without agony through life's seasonal changes. Please consult with a physician prior to taking medication or beginning any manner of allergy treatment.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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