Many people suffer from allergy symptoms (see article). While antihistamines and decongestants can offer temporary relief from allergy symptoms, they are a short-term fix and often carry undesirable side-effects like drowsiness, dry mouth and brain-fog. Furthermore, these drugs don’t work well for everyone, and may stop working after continuous use.
However, there are alternative approaches to relieving allergy symptoms. The first step is to discover the source of the allergy. (See article)
An allergist or (sometimes) another medical doctor can order tests to help detect allergens. Though these medical tests can be very useful –especially for contact allergies (allergic reactions to substances that contacted the skin) and severe allergies with life threatening symptoms, they have their limitations. (See article)Also, allergy testing is expensive and many insurance companies won’t cover an allergist’s services for anything but life-threatening allergies. This is why elimination regimes are generally recommended for milder allergic reactions.
The most effective way to determine food allergies is to use an elimination diet. In an elimination diet, a person eliminates a list of common or suspected allergens from his/her diet for a period of time until their allergic symptoms subside, and then systematically adds them back into the diet, one by one to see which foods caused the symptoms (see article for details)
Contact allergies, and airborne allergens often can be found by thoroughly cleaning affected person’s close environment and eliminating common allergens from the area.
Though people can be allergic to almost anything, here is a short list of common allergies:
Mold and Mildew spores
Pollen (usually only a few types of pollen per person, but the list of possibilities is too long for this article)
Soap ingredients (usually not the soap itself, but fragrances, or various other enhancers)
Laundry detergent ingredients (see note on soap above)
Shellfish (includes clams, mussels oysters, shrimp, crab lobster, etc.)
Metals (in contact with skin)
Keep in mind that some allergies are slow to develop, and slow to recede after the allergen has been eliminated. Also, bodies change over time, so people ‘grow into and grow out of allergies’.
Once you have discovered the allergen, it is usually best to avoid the allergen as much as possible. If a person has many relatively mild food allergies, often using a rotation diet can ensure that a person gets adequate nutrition while keeping allergies under control.
If a person has more severe allergies and/or the allergen is hard to avoid, he or she may consider whether immune therapy is appropriate. Immune therapy is administered by a qualified health care specialist and involves administering an extract of the allergen (by injection or by sublingual drops or pills that are held under the tongue until absorbed.) These treatments are given in a series of doses – several per year over a period of years. Some people find substantial relief using immune therapy for their allergies.
A couple of caveats to consider regarding immune therapy are :
- Immune therapy for allergies tends to work best in young people or people with newly developed allergies.
- It is also usually expensive and few insurance plans pay for these treatments unless an allergy is very severe.
Whatever the outcome, discovering the identity of allergens can give people a greater control of their symptoms and a greater control of their life. (See Article)