Does your body shut down in the Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter with migraines, 'colds' or sinus infections?
Does it keep you from family functions and keep you from being YOU?
Does it interrupt your work?
There are things you can do to take charge and learn what is causing it. If you're consistently getting sinus infections (this didn't start for me until I was 30), chances are, you have allergies. It could be seasonal, dietary or exposure (cleaning products, dust mites, etc). Do some journaling...
1) Does it happen almost the same time each year?
There can be something that blooms that time that causes it... for me, the Spring was trees, Summer was grass, Fall was ragweed, Winter was the dust mites, cats and pine trees (live Christmas tree in the house caused polka dots on me from hanging ornaments!!! Crazy, right? ), from being indoors more.
2) Did you change to a new food, new product, house cleaning agent, detergent, new car, new carpet, new place you're going or new pet?
3) Is it happening after a certain food or exposure?
Mine would happen after dairy, breads and mangoes. Then it became even more! I would be allergic to almonds, shrimp, tomatoes and even strawberries from time to time, not all the time just occasionally or when I had a really long workout or was really emotionally stressed!!! I was in and out of the doctors office all of the time for sinus infections and testing. I was even triggered by certain cleaning products or smells. Turns out now, it's even chemicals in processed foods and produce pesticides! Some people will make comments that you should use 'natural' things to avoid allergic reactions. Well, even bees are nature (I'm allergic to bees, lavender, grass etc). Besides, I saw this recently regarding our food and the FDA's definition of the word natural, "this policy was not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides... " see even more on this link.
What I learned over the years from my experience with the doctors and trial an error (both of my kids started showing symptoms too but different from mine).
One of the doctors explained to me that as we are going through life and we are stressing out, our bodies don't understand how to differentiate between physical and emotional stress. Our bodies start to do a self check,!!! here's your bodies self talk-"what is happening physically that could make me suffering like this" so our bodies find that we increased dairy intake (ex. eating ice cream while being depressed over a death etc) or being indoors more can start a dust mite reaction or the season that you're in (Spring is for trees blooming).
If I had too much stress in my life ( I hadn't learned how to handle the stress, I was constantly bombarded with normal life issues, you know what I mean!) I would get 'stress induced allergic reactions" (idiopathic stress induced allergies). My life was crazy stressful at times, several close deaths in the family, an injury at work left me making little to no money, my ex wasn't paying support but was taking me to court to say I was unfit etc. (You know, LIFE!) How do you get rid of stress that is out of your control?
The way the doctor described it to me as "view your body as a bucket". As your bucket gets exposed to the allergens, your body fills with symptoms. You don't feel most of those symptoms until your bucket begins to overflow. When a real bucket starts to overflow, at first you can use a sponge, then a mop, the more it overflows, your bucket is still full. It's easier to slow the water before the bucket overflows. Not only that, but think about it, you have symptoms before you even notice it. These symptoms can be harmful to your body, quality of life and longevity. They affect the way your body is performing, taxing organs etc that you don't even know about. It compromises your immune system. The bucket explanation and the information the allergist provided helped me visualize what was going on in my body. What is it that I can control of my allergens? If I used prevention, then I would need less medicine. Less medicine means less side effects, also less symptoms in general and less money!
Here is a small sample of things that were affecting me, my carpet, my sofas, my CAREER ( I was a fire fighter allergic to smoke, in my gear on the vehicles we washed, even on my brothers and sisters that I would ride with if our gear wasn't cleaned after EACH call!) allergens and dust mites in my BED and our new kittens (I just bought three sweet kitties for my young children). Then, there was the change of seasons, I live in Maryland, maybe we could get a break at wintertime, nope, the leaves get moldy since we don't often get a break from cold to warm and then it switches again, so never a real long freeze.
If you know the triggers and timing of the triggers you can slow or even stop the bucket from getting to the 'overflow" mark, hence, eliminating symptoms from occurring or getting worse.
List of symptoms you may experience:
These are the most common symptoms you will read about
-Stuffy or runny nose
-Feeling swollen in sinus' (you may or may not have mucous issues but feel strained air passages)
-Itchy and watery eyes
-Scratchy sore throat
-Cough from post nasal drip
Here are some less commonly known
-Upper respiratory infection
-Sinus infections (especially chronic and with the same triggers same time of year, ex."summer cold")
-Ear infections (especially in children since their sinus' don't form until around the age of 5 years old
-Drinking a lot and feeling thirsty (it helps the body to dilute the allergens so we crave water, also helps your sore throat so the craving is a justified)
-Head aches (starting but not limited to the front of your head)
-Neck & shoulder pain (from lack of sleep & clenching teeth due to swelling of skull from sinus')
-Lack of exercise endurance
-Dry Mouth and Dehydration
*If you have a cold that last more than a week, do you often say "Oh no, here it comes again, I always get sick this time of year"
These are some I've had and still don't see listed often yet my doctor confirmed
-Dark circles around eyes
-Flu like symptoms of pain in my spine
-Achy joints from swelling (our body retains fluid to dilute the allergens to try and get your better)
-Weight gain from inflammation
-Sore tongue on the back, sides and biting your tongue more often (your tongue swells from the allergies and you clench your teeth overnight causing you to bite your tongue making it extremely sensitive)
-Stomach aches (can be from food allergies but can also come from other allergies since your body will build on symptoms)
-Overeating- I was constantly hungry, it seemed to help soothe my stomach discomfort and the post nasal drip would make my pancreas to increase insulin levels making my stomach stir)
-Craving sweets or unhealthy carbs (breads and pastries etc) to get over the fatigue and from the overproduction of insulin
Here are some risks not treating allergies (even minor symptoms)
Your body will be taxed by having allergy issues. Antibodies are constantly working to keep allergens from invading your body, to help them slow down to make you better. If you do not remove yourself from the exposure, your immune system will eventually wear down and the allergy will become worsened to an even higher level. Your level of functioning will be greatly affected. I was in fire school when this happened to me. Everyday I went to training, I thought 'I will not be taken by the medic today", I was on antibiotics for the duration of fire school because I wasn't allowed time off for my regular doctor. I was going to urgent care centers, on and off and new antibiotics each time. Thus, allowing the allergens to continue and the antibiotics weren't having an effect on my symptoms.
1. Chronic sleep issues-sleep apnea-this will put undue stress on your heart and decrease oxygen to your whole body
2.Infection and inflammation-such as eczema, sinusitis, asthma, ear infections, chronic migraines and head aches
3. Decreased brain function-when your symptoms are affecting you with chronic fatigue, it can also affect, memory, cognitive skills, concentration. This can cause issues with work and school so think about what that can do for hazardous occupations and driving
4. Mood disorders-lack of sleep can even start up symptoms such as anxiety, depression-affecting your social life, daily functions, relationships and overall health.
Here's the main article for this list and other information
KEEP THAT BUCKET HALF FULL OR LESS
Here are some tricks to keep you going and keep your allergies to a minimum.
Let's start with the cheapest and easiest first. Even that can help you start to normalize a little and learn some triggers. If you're not sure what your triggers are but just want to start then do as many as you can right away. As you start to learn your triggers, as soon as you get the first signs symptoms, start on the ones that make the most sense for your triggers.
-Shower before bed or right when you get home. It keeps the allergens out of your house. You can always take your shoes and jacket off before you enter the house too.
-Keep your windows closed in the house. I love to have my windows open, I love to sleep with them open in fact but that had to stop. Especially in the bedroom. If your bedroom is free of allergens you can cut back for 8 hours or so that your body is exposed to allergens and empty the bucket while you sleep.
-Hopefully you can get a loved one to help you with vacuuming, dusting and laundry if it's allergens and dust mites. (See it does have it's benefits! I got out of all of those and cat litter for about two years, then learned if I do them all at once, shower right afterward and do a sinus rinse, I was able to help out!)
-Avoid going outside between 5am-10am when pollen is at its worst.
-Exercise-A lack of exercise result in a sluggish blood flow. Stagnant allergens gather in a fixed position, which begins to destroy the tissues around them. Constant movement of the allergens through the blood stream prevents these delicate tissues from becoming inflamed.
-Read food labels if you suspect you have a food allergy (ex. soy, milk, aspartame). (you could react to Casein the way you react to milk or it could be another issue with milk).
-Saline sinus rinses once a day, if you are starting off with severe sinus issues, you may want to do twice a day for a day or two (no more due to the lining of your sinus' getting sensitive). These not only get the mucous cleared out of your sinus' but the salt neutralizes the passageway.
-You can also get to a salt room (I'm sure you've heard of them). The magnesium in the salt helps to relax your muscles (including your sinus' and the tissue in your nasal passage) as well as astringent to purify the air going in and neutralizes the allergens that are already resting on your sinus lining when the moisture and salt mix.
-Change your furnace filters often, it may need to be more often that you are directed by the companies
-Chiropractic care and Craniosacral Therapy (11th testimonial)-By reducing stress in the body and easing blocks of the nervous system, the immune system will boost and the stress on the body eases. You can get immediate relief from sinus and other symptoms with these therapies yet removing and learning the allergen is best for long term care.
-Allergy proof pillow covers (invest in good ones so you're sleeping comfortably). These are more important to get a better quality and cheaper to invest than the mattress covers but both will be a good investment since you want good sleep. I'm not able to just take pillow case covers with me when I travel ( I used to take the pillow covers, mattress covers and the air purifier even when flying, it was a lot of work, I hope that isn't the case for you). (theallergystore.com isn't the only place to shop but it is what I ended up using and I do like their products and they have comparable product prices)
-Allergen pet wash (I washed my cats, YES MY CATS, twice a month, they said anymore would cause the dander to increase)
-Spray your carpets with allergen spray (DO NOT USE POWDER!! I learned the hard way with a new vacuum cleaner and an almost completely clean home! My house (and myself!!!) was covered in the powder and I got even more sick. The kittens were too happy either! lol) (theallergystore.com isn't the only place to shop but it is what I ended up using and I do like their products and they have comparable product prices)
-Allergy proof the bed with an allergy proof mattress cover (boxspring too if you're really bad). Wash your sheets often and even more if you suspect an allergen being brought in if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Invest in the better priced ones so you don't feel like your on a diaper or a hospital bed. (theallergystore.com isn't the only place to shop but it is what I ended up using and I do like their products and they have comparable product prices)
-Get a HEPA filter air purifier for your bedroom, by creating a "bubble" for yourself overnight (for as many hours as possible) your bucket will begin to empty allowing you some relief. It will also let you start over and get exposures that you cannot control. The bonus to this is that it cuts down on the dust in your home so you don't have to clean as much!!! Get one for the whole house if you can, you can get a few smaller ones for each level or a whole house purifier (much more pricey).
-Hiring a cleaning person-hear me out first, they don't have to come that often, just to do a major overhaul or even regular (if you can). The ways this will help, you have them come when you are going to be gone so the dust and allergens settle in the house while you're away (make it work for you). Have them use your cleaning products that work best for you and their HEPA filter vacuum (saves you a little for a short time). It also can help you get over a hump of exposure and then you can cut back on services once you get rid of some symptoms.
-Getting a hepa filter vacuum cleaner, not a canister, one that is easy to dump out without you coming in contact with the debris.
-Getting rid of carpeting and furniture that traps allergens.
If it is a chronic issue and you're having the issues all the time a few tricks that worked great for me, including the ones above. These were my first steps in order for financial reasons. It also let me see small improvements and allow me to see that these were working. Some I did buy all at once but I also cut back on these in the reverse order when I started feeling better. I found that all of these weren't needed as much anymore.
*Note these methods will not work instantly. It will take time for the bucket to empty. Be patient, stick with it as long as your symptoms don't worsen. For best results start before you get too many symptoms. That's why keeping the journal is important.
** Going to a good allergist will really help you! There are times you will need medication, allergies are no joke and you need to get doctors care but these things can be used while you're on medication. After a while you may learn you can lower dosages but be sure you are consulting a physician to be sure you're getting the guidance you need. This blog is not to replace a physicians advice or diagnose.
***When using medications, aromatherapy etc you are masking your symptoms, that is why prevention is the best way. Some may be able to transfer to just prevention, others may still need medication and prevention for best results.
****This is NOT information for anaphylactic shock allergies. Seek professional help.
In Health and Wellness,
-Michelle S Krause LMT
National and MD State Licensed
Webmd.com Casein Allergy Overview
Robert Pedowitz, DO. Everydayhealth.com 9 Allergy Signs You May Be Overlooking
FDA.gov "Natural" on Food Labeling 11/11/17
University Park Chiropractic "Can Allergies Be Treated With Chiropractic"
Upledger Institute, 11th Testimonial and several others in this section
Exercise and Wellness News, Exercise Control of Your Allergies by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner
March 18, 2018