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Allergy 101

Have you ever experienced a runny nose, congestion and itchy eyes? Maybe you’ve developed a sudden rash, or dry sensitive skin. These symptoms can all be an indication of some form of allergy. If you’re one of the more than 30 percent of Americans who suffer from allergies, there are many ways to help ease your suffering. Let’s take a look . . .

Have you ever experienced a runny nose, congestion and itchy eyes – and not from just the common cold? Or maybe you’ve developed a sudden rash or dry, sensitive skin.  These symptoms all can be an indication of some form of allergy. And you may not even know you have one!

Well, if you have experienced any one of the above symptoms, you’re in good company. Over one-third of all Americans have some form of allergy – one-third! That’s a lot of people! Luckily, if you are one of that percentage, there are many things you can do to help ease the suffering.

First of all, what exactly is an “allergy”?

Allergies are a disorder of the immune system that can occur from environmental substances called allergens. Allergens can form from both host and environmental factors. Host factors include hereditary genes passed through from the parents. Parents with allergies are more likely to have children with allergies. Environmental factors can include childhood disease, environmental pollution and dietary changes. Common allergic reactions can include eczema, hives, hay fever, asthma, and infection from insect stings.

Some allergies can be avoided by:

• Good skincare habits
• Avoiding allergen triggers
• Use of medication when needed

Symptoms and Detection

Allergies can show general symptoms such as itching, rash formation, sneezing, runny nose, hives and asthma. With food allergies, the person can experience skin itching and redness, nausea and difficulty breathing. One of the top causes around the world of asthma is having allergies. Asthma symptoms can appear as repetitive coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightening. If you or your children are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit your health care professional to receive asthma and allergy testing.

Skin testing is still the method of choice for detecting the presence of allergies. A prick, scratch or puncture on the person’s skin is created and then a small amount of an allergen is placed on their skin. The procedure is not painful, and there is generally not any bleeding since it is just a small surface scratch. The response generally takes 15 minutes and a positive response is indicated by a raised and itchy bump. This method has been used for over 100 years and is safe for a person to participate in.

The newer method of testing is called Radioallergosorbent (RAST) and is a method that tests a person’s blood for allergens. The test is limited and is best used for food allergens. If you or your children experience positive allergy results, there are several options for you to consider for treatment.

Treatment Options

Traditional medicine typically uses antagonistic drugs to block the action of allergens. Common prescription drugs will include antihistamines, cortisone and epinephrine as the primary ingredient. If you are looking for an alternative and more natural treatment for allergies, consider licorice root, Capsicum, Stinging Nettle, Quercetin and Coenzyme Q-10.

Licorice root has been used for centuries to cure allergies. It encourages the adrenal glands to produce hormones that fight allergens and reduce inflammation throughout the body. Licorice root is most commonly served in hot tea.

Capsicum is an herb that is rich in Vitamin C and Quercetin, a natural antihistamine. Capsicum has been proven to aid in the reduction of allergy effects and is often taken in capsule form.

Coenzyme Q-10 is a great overall supplement that has many health benefits. It works to boost immunity and works as an antihistamine. It is most commonly taken in a tablet form.

Quercetin is a popular bioflavonoid that is used to treat allergies. It helps to reduce inflammation and prevents cells from dumping their allergy symptom fluids into the blood stream. Quercetin is taken as a supplement, but is also commonly found in blue-green algae.

Stinging nettle is a time-honored herb that has been used to treat allergies in both children and adults. It is available as dried leaves, teas, root tinctures and capsules for addition into the daily diet. There are some side effects, so pregnant women in particular should not take stinging nettle.

Allergies affect millions of people around the world of all ages. If you understand the symptoms, detection methods and treatment options, you’ll be steps ahead to be able to reduce tthe effects of this often troublesome health condition.

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