Allergy control helps prevent asthma, allergic conditions: Part 2 | Column

Ah—ah—ah—choo! This is the time of year when many folks are sneezing.

  • Wednesday, April 24, 2013 1:13pm
  • Life

Ah—ah—ah—choo! This is the time of year when many folks are sneezing. If it isn’t a cold, it might be allergic rhinitis, also known as “hay fever.” Nasal allergies tend to flare every spring from plant pollens in the air. In hay fever the symptoms show up as a runny nose, nasal congestion, teary eyes and fatigue. These allergy symptoms are not a mere nuisance.

Besides being a health threat in their own right, nasal allergies are often associated with other allergic conditions. Many people with hay fever also suffer from eczema. And nearly half of the people who have hay fever may eventually develop some form of asthma. A recent study shows that 75 percent of people with asthma aged 20 to 40, and 65 percent of those ages 55 and older, have at least one allergy. The results were published last month based on an analysis of 2,600 people enrolled in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Allergy-related conditions

Exactly how are allergies and asthma connected? Recent studies have demonstrated cross talk between the upper and lower airways of the respiratory tract. When a person with hay fever but no asthma is exposed to ragweed or house dust, inflammation flares up not only in the nose but also in the lungs. Similarly, introducing an allergen into the lungs of a person who has asthma but no hay fever unleashes inflammatory substances in the lungs and upper airways, including the nose and sinuses that are completely untouched by the allergen.

This close communication between the upper and lower airways is what scientists mean when they refer to asthma and allergies as being “one airway, one disease.”

I think the concept helps explain some seemingly unrelated facts and figures: People with allergies are more prone to having problems with sinusitis, nasal polyps, ear infections and inflamed eyes. They tend to get bronchitis and pneumonia more easily. Those with eczema are susceptible to developing secondary bacterial infections of the skin.

Allergy treatment beneficial

Allergies deserve to be carefully assessed and controlled in order to help prevent progression to asthma and other allergic conditions. Studies indicate that treatment of hay fever can also help resolve symptoms in patients who have both allergies and asthma. A number of remedies are available to help bring your allergies under control.

Allergen avoidance. Record your symptoms in a diary, then try to avoid allergy triggers that you identify. For indoor allergies, this may mean washing sheets weekly in hot water and keeping carpets and pets out of the bedroom. For outdoor allergies, staying indoors when pollen levels are highest between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. can ease symptoms.

Natural remedies. Dietary change, essential oils, herbal remedies, dietary supplements, and mind-body therapies are among the alternative approaches that can help your immune system unlearn allergic reactivity.

Antihistamines. Available in over-the-counter and prescription forms, this mainstay of treatment for hay fever helps relieve nasal itching, runny nose and sneezing. Ask your pharmacist about less sedating brands.

Nasal sprays. Over-the-counter cromolyn sodium or prescription steroid sprays can treat nasal drainage and stuffiness.

Allergy shots. Getting weekly or monthly injections for several years can cut the risk of developing asthma in half, according to some studies. Allergy sufferers who should consider consulting a doctor about the shots include those who fail to get relief from drugs as well as children and anyone with both hay fever and asthma.

For more information: Allergy Guide: Alternative & Conventional Solutions by Elizabeth Smoots, MD, published April 2013, www.drsmoots.com/books

Dr. Smoots is an integrative physician and author of the health column Practical Prevention. Dr. Smoots’ articles are not intended as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Before adhering to any recommendations in this article consult your healthcare provider. ©2013 Elizabeth S. Smoots, MD, LLC.

 

 

 

 

More in Life

Wastemobile returns to Bothell Sept. 13-15

Bothell residents can safely dispose of hazardous household items for free.

Last year’s grand prize winner, Laurie Ascanioi of Bothell. Photo courtesy of Marella Alejandrino
Kenmore Heritage Society launches fifth annual Northshore Fun Photo Contest

The contest has expanded to include entries from communities within the NSD.

Jaeden Luke, 19-year-old singer-songwriter releases his first album, “Free of Me.” Madison Miller/staff photo
Bothell singer-songwriter releases first full-length album

Jaeden Luke, 19, has opened for Chris Isaak and Little Feat.

Strong America tour makes a stop in Kenmore

Strong Towns was founded in 2008.

Art thieves come from all backgrounds

Former FBI art theft investigations manager speaks during Pub Night Talk in Bothell.

Local woman launches event to celebrate Kenmore

21 Acts of Kindness Challenge will celebrate Kenmore’s 21st birthday.

Sustainamania arrives at Bothell City Hall this week

The annual function provides tips on how to sustainably live effectively.

Annual Imagine Scholar Yard Sale event comes to Kenmore Aug. 15

The two-day event will take place in the Northlake Lutheran Church parking lot.

Pop-up dog park debuts at park at Bothell landing

The pop-up park will be in Bothell from Aug. 1 to Sept. 15

Applying mindfulness into your daily life

Being mindful is the act of staying present, being aware of your surroundings and noticing new things without judgment.

Mindful goal setting

What are the roots of you life goals?

Bothell awarded grant to create cultural plan

This work will be led by the newly formed Bothell Arts Commission and city staff.