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Guest Post: Seasonal Allergies – Suffer No More!

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Amy Myers, MD:

Dr. Myers is the Medical Director of Austin UltraHealth. Her practice specializes in functional and nutritional medicine.

Amy Myers, MD

It’s estimated that 55 million Americans (that’s one in four people) suffer from allergies of some kind – seasonal, food, skin, and medication. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology states that as many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children suffer from allergic rhinitis each year.

Austinites are no exception to these statistics. In fact, in 2004, Austin was named the number one fall allergy capital by the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America – and continually ranks in the top five worst US cities for seasonal allergies overall.

With fall approaching, if you’re like most Austinites, you’re looking for ways to prevent, reduce, and even eliminate your seasonal allergy symptoms. Here’s some perspective – I hope you’ll find it useful. When it comes to seasonal allergy symptoms, I take a three-part approach: an Elimination Diet, IgG Food Sensitivity testing, and a Comprehensive Stool Analysis looking for Candida and leaky gut.

All my patients go through an Elimination Diet no matter why they’re coming to see me, because food sensitivities can be the underlying cause of many chronic diseases. Seasonal allergies are no exception here – in fact, many environmental allergens cross-react with foods. Here’s an overview of the three approaches to seasonal allergy prevention:

Elimination Diet
First, start by eliminating all gluten (from foods containing wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, triticale and oats), dairy products (milk, butter, yogurt, cheese), yeast (found in baked goods, bread, beer, wine, cheese, vinegar, and on the surfaces of many fruits), eggs, corn, peanuts, citrus fruits (except lemon), and nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant) for a minimum of two weeks. If symptoms improve, you can then gradually add one food back in at a time every three days, making sure to eat at least three servings a day for three days and taking note of any symptoms such as headache, sneezing, fatigue or rash that may arise. If you notice any negative symptoms, continue to remove this food for your diet for at least 3-6 months. If no symptoms arise, repeat the above steps with each of the remaining foods. If no improvement is noted after you’ve added back in all of the foods, then you may need to do a more comprehensive food elimination diet under the guidance of a trained professional. I would also recommend a specialized blood test for IgG food allergies and begin to think of leaky gut and/or Candida intestinal overgrowth as a contributing factor.

IgG Food Sensitivity Testing
The premise behind IgG Food Sensitivity Testing is that high circulating levels of IgG antibodies correlate with clinical food allergy signs and symptoms and these reactions can take 72 hours to develop and are called delayed sensitivities. The test is an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test which involves coating a 96-well plate with food antigens, adding a persons’ sera (component of blood) and looking for a classic antigen/antibody interaction. More traditional food allergy testing, such as those done by an allergist, are based on IgE or immediate reactions.

Generally speaking, food allergies cause quick physical reactions such as swelling, hives, itchiness, and difficulty breathing – if you have a true food allergy you likely already know about it. Food sensitivities, on the other hand, can develop over time, often because of a poor diet and a leaky gut. The consequences of improper food choices can manifest as delayed allergic reactions (food sensitivities) and cause weight gain, fatigue, sinus problems, acne, mood swings, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Because the reactions can take up to 72 hours to occur, they can be very difficult to recognize. Eating a diet low in these inflammatory foods reduces excess swelling and fluid accumulation in your tissues, which will assist with your body’s healing, detoxification processes and reduce seasonal allergies symptoms.

Comprehensive Stool Test
With the over usage of antibiotics for suspected sinusitis many people suffer from intestinal yeast or Candida overgrowth. Candida alone can worsen seasonal allergy symptoms, as well as cause intestinal damage leading to increased intestinal permeability, or leaky gut. Leaky gut then further increases one’s susceptibility to food sensitivities, which exacerbates the problem and worsens seasonal allergy symptoms.

Typical symptoms of Candida include itching, bloating or gas, eczema-like rash or diaper rash, intense sugar cravings, headache, brain fog, anxiety and even hyperactivity in children. Candida infections can be confirmed by either a blood or stool test.

If you or a family member is suffering from any of the above symptoms, it’s recommended that you get tested and begin a Candida free diet. With this approach you eliminate all sugar, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, vinegar, fermented foods, mushrooms, cheese and peanuts from the diet for 3-6 months. For patients at Austin UltraHealth, I also prescribe an antifungal medication for 30 days to eradicate the intestinal yeast infection.

Conclusions
I’ve taken the above three-step approach with each of my patients suffering from seasonal allergies and then end result is always the same – complete resolution.

Questions?
To reach Dr. Myers, call her office at +1 512 383 5343, or contact her via her website.

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