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Spring = Allergies

If you are suffering from allergy symptoms this spring, you are certainly not alone. Depending on which source you refer to, up to 30% of adults and 40% of children in the US population suffer from allergies, and the numbers seem to be increasing. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergic disease, including asthma, is the fifth leading chronic disease in people of all ages in the US, and the most common chronic disease in children under the age of 18.

If you notice that your symptoms are lasting longer than they used to, you may be right. Climate change is extending the allergy season, causing us to start sneezing sooner. Other symptoms include coughing, itchy eyes, a runny nose, and a scratchy throat. Severe allergy symptoms manifest as low blood pressure, rashes, hives and breathing trouble. The most common triggers are tree, grass and weed pollen, mold spores, dust mites, and animal dander.

The problem with many allergy drugs is that they may cause a rebound effect, so that when the drug wears off, you have an even stronger allergic response. Histamine, a compound involved in the body’s immune responses, gets released when we are exposed to an allergen. A natural product called quercetin has shown promising results for allergies. Quercetin, a bioflavonoid found in many fruits, veggies, leaves and grains, is a type of plant pigment that inhibits the cells that produce histamine, and can be taken in a capsule. The plant called stinging nettle also yields a similar result. Also think about the anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil for helping with allergy symptoms. Spring doesn’t have to mean allergy misery!

--Dr. Kate Kennedy

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