• Dr. Caroline Ricker

Falling Into the Allergy Trap: Hay fever, mold and some of our top tips for fall!

It’s that time again. You wake up stuffy, dry throat, your nose starting to itch. A fit of sneezes accompanies your morning coffee. Yep, it’s almost fall. And those pesky seasonal allergies are back again, making you hate the change in season.

What if I told you that it didn’t have to be that way? Yes, you read that right. There are ways to reduce and even eliminate seasonal allergies!

First, let’s talk about what an allergy is, and some of the most common things that people are often allergic to in the late summer and early fall. So what is an allergy?

Allergies are really just immune responses. Similar to when you come in contact with a virus or bacteria, your body sees something like a pollen or food as an invader and mounts a response. In the case of allergies, the response is in a form called histamine which causes all your nasty symptoms. The symptoms, like runny nose, red itchy eyes, sneezing etc., are actually there to help your body eliminate this foreign invader. The real problem is that the “foreign invader” isn’t a real threat like a virus or bacteria might be and so there is no reason that your body should respond in the way that it does.

If you’re picking up what I’m laying down, then you’re starting to realize that an allergy isn’t really just something you have or don’t have, it is your body’s inappropriate function that is leading to a reaction. The good news is that this means that what we need to do is look at your body and figure out exactly what is causing it to malfunction in this way instead of just taking antihistamines to block the reaction.

We still don’t know why some substances seem to cause this in more people than others, but we do know what some of these main culprits are in the fall.

Our biggest fall offender is ragweed. Commonly known as “hay fever”, allergic response to ragweed can be really intense causing severe runny, itchy nose, sinus pressure and itchy red eyes. Ragweed pollen is released typically starting in mid-August, so if you’ve just recently felt some uptick in allergy symptoms and fatigue, then you’re likely not very friendly with ragweed.

The second big fall allergen is mold. Largely due to rains and hot temperatures, mold counts begin to increase in late summer. As leaves fall and begin to decay, this contributes to mold and mildew accumulation. Mold can cause all of the same symptoms as ragweed and is also known to cause headaches and fatigue.

So what to do?

We’ve got a few tips: Check the humidity in your house. Optimal indoor humidity indoors is between 35-50%. If your house is too humid, then there is a much higher chance for congestion and especially mold and mildew accumulation. If the humidity is too low, then the dry air will dry out your nasal passages and eyes leaving them more vulnerable to allergens and irritants. Using a humidifier or dehumidifier depending on which way your house sways can help to keep your air quality balanced.

Seek out allergy elimination. Simply taking allergy medications is ignoring the fact that your body is responding improperly to a foreign body. We encourage you to work with someone who is willing to work with you to get to the root cause of your body’s dysfunction. This type of dysfunction is commonly coming from your gut health. If that is the case then looking for a qualified functional medicine doctor is the best plan of action as they will help work with your individual issues to help restore the health of your gut.

Another common cause of allergy dysfunction is more of a neurological response pattern. This is the top reason that I treat patients for allergies, and there is a simple way to treat this dysfunction allowing for often times a full remission from all allergy responses. The technique we use in this case is called NAET.

NAET is a non-invasive treatment based on the systems of acupuncture and homeopathy which neutralize symptoms related to an allergy or hypersensitivity. Unlike traditional acupuncture, these particular treatments are done without the use of needles. During an NAET allergy treatment, the specific acupuncture points that are treated correspond to points along the spine that are treated during a chiropractic adjustment. These specific acupuncture points are used for their whole-body balancing properties and work to reset one's nervous and immune systems as they relate to the sensitivity. A good analogy is what happens when ctrl-alt-delete is entered on a computer to reboot it when it stops functioning properly due to an error message. The error message represents the allergic response or hypersensitivity in the body. This process allows the body to now respond normally to something that previously caused an allergic or hypersensitive reaction. Sometimes, your body just needs to be rebooted! This is crucial for anyone experiencing food/chemical/environmental sensitivities, because if you eliminate all the sources and even heal your gut, your body may STILL be stuck on high alert. A simple reboot to the nervous system will help get you back to functioning normally!

It's time to enjoy fall again! The pumpkin patches, fires, s'mores, corn mazes and apple picking can be yours to enjoy if you'll just take a few steps to reduce your allergies!

Dr. Caroline Ricker has been passionately helping people avoid unnecessary medications and surgeries since 2009. She combines a very logical functional medicine approach to digestive disorders and more using a more alternative holistic approach, utilizing standard lab tests and in-office evaluations as well as nutrition, acupuncture and homeopathy.

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