Environmental and Food Allergies
What is an allergy?
The body’s immune system normally protects against harmful substances such as bacteria and viruses, but it also reacts to less harmful foreign substances called allergens. To most people, these allergens do not cause problems. To a person with allergies, however; the immune response is oversensitive. An allergy is an exaggerated immune response to an otherwise benign foreign substance. One out of every five American suffers from either environmental, food or chemical allergies.
The most common food allergens are:
- Cow’s milk
- Cane sugar
- Tree nuts
The most common environmental allergens include:
- Pollen (from trees, weeds and grasses)
- Dust mites
- Animal dander
Chemical sensitivities may include:
- Cigarette smoke
- Auto exhaust
- Cleaning agents
- Other household chemicals
Many people can also react to environmental chemicals such as formaldehyde or petroleum-based products. These products are often found in new building materials and include carpet, sealants, paints, shellac, varnish, cigarette smoke, plastics, perfume, cologne, household cleaning agents, scented toiletry products, dry cleaning chemicals, fragrances and much more.
What are the symptoms of an environmental allergy?
- Sinus congestion
- Itchy throat and eyes
- Hives or skin rashes
- Sinus pressure, including headaches
- Aching teeth
What are the symptoms of food allergy?
- Hives, itching or eczema
- Weak pulse
- Repetitive cough
- Vomiting or stomach cramps
- Tingling or itching in the mouth
- Digestive issues
- Chronic fatigue
- Inflammation and swelling of the lips, face, tongue, throat or other parts of the body
- Wheezing, nasal congestion or inhibited breathing
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
- Anaphylactic shock
What is food sensitivity/intolerance?
A food intolerance is a negative reaction, often delayed, to a food or ingredient.
There are a variety of different mechanisms that can create a negative reaction to food. Collectively, these are known as non-IgE mediated food hypersensitivity, aka food intolerance.
Food intolerance is much more common than food allergies. Symptoms may occur immediately or may not surface for up to72 hours after eating the offending food. This can make it difficult to determine which foods you are intolerant to without help.
What are the symptoms of food intolerance?
While the symptoms can be sporadic and varied, the most commonly experienced are:
What is the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity or intolerance?
A food allergy will often cause an immediate reaction following ingestion of even the smallest amount of the offending food, while the onset of a food intolerance may occur immediately or sometimes hours or even days later.
An allergy reaction is generally immediate and involves the production within the body of an immunoglobulin called IgE. An allergy will evoke and immune response that can affect numerous organs and cause a range of symptoms. Rather than treating the food as nourishment, the body handles the food as a threat and creates antibodies, just as it would to battle a virus. Each time you eat this food, antibodies will be released, causing the symptoms associated with the allergy. In some cases, the allergic reaction can be severe or life threatening.
If you have an intolerance, you may be able to eat a small amount of the food with no reaction.
Symptoms of a food intolerance can occur anywhere in the body and are generally not caused by the production of IgE antibodies. These intolerances can be caused by other immune mechanism (non-IgE) or may not be immune mediated at all. For example, an intolerance to milk may be triggered if you lack the enzyme lactase which is necessary to break down the milk sugar, lactose. Another example of a non-immune mediated intolerance can occur with strawberries which contain histamine that can cause itching or hives in sensitive individuals. These responses are often delayed and sometimes occur a few hours after eating them and are generally more difficult to identify than the IgE mediated food allergy.
Common complaints such as fatigue, headaches, insomnia, muscle aches and pains, anxiety, depression, and frequent respiratory infections are just a few of the symptoms that may be triggered by food intolerances.
Traditionally, doctors will prescribe medication—an antihistamine to suppress the reactions to an allergen. Pollen, dust and mold allergies treatments will also often involve weekly injections, in addition to antihistamines. These drugs can cause their own set of side effects such as dry mouth, confusion, blurred vision, trouble urinating, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness and dizziness.
Often, patients will have only been tested for IgE mediated allergies and will not have been tested for food intolerances. We test for both because we understand the debilitating effects that an undiagnosed food intolerance can have on your system.
At the Magaziner Center for Wellness we treat allergies and food intolerance naturally—by training the immune system to respond appropriately to the allergens or food that effect each individual. This is done using sublingual desensitization, a safe and effective alternative to traditional allergy shots.
Desensitization can be self-administered by the patient through sublingual (under the tongue) drops. It is safer, causes no anaphylactic shock (a potential side effect of the common allergy shot), and much more convenient.
What are the expected results?
We have been performing sublingual desensitization for nearly 30 years, but recently, more and more people have been learning the benefits of treating allergies naturally. In fact, recent studies published in professional medical journals have shown that sublingual desensitization significantly reduces the symptoms of hay fever and nasal allergies, as well as the need for medication.
Because it takes time to train the immune system, it is generally recommended to start treatment a few months prior to your normal allergy season.
*If you believe you may have an allergy or food intolerance, Call 856-424-8222 or email to schedule an appointment today! The sooner you start, the sooner you can get back to enjoying the activities and foods you love!
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