TREATMENTS FOR ALLERGIES
Various treatment options are available to treat allergies, once the allergies are diagnosed. For an anaphylactic reaction, the usual conventional treatment is the use of an epipen. Milder and moderate allergies can be treated both conventionally and naturopathically with various different option some of which are listed below:
1. Conventional Allergy Medications
2. Naturopathic Approach To Allergies
CONVENTIONAL ALLERGY MEDICATION
These include antihistamines, decongestants, combination medicines, corticosteroids and others.
Antihistamines have been used for years to treat allergy symptoms. They can be taken as pills, liquid, nasal spray or eye drops. Over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops can relieve red itchy eyes, while nasal sprays can be used to treat the symptoms of seasonal or year-round allergies.
Examples of antihistamines include: (over-the-counter) Benadryl, Claritin, Chlor-Trimeton, Dimetane and Tavist. Ocu-Hist is an OTC eye drop.
How Do Antihistamines Work?
When you are exposed to an allergen -- like ragweed pollen -- it triggers your immune system to go into action. Immune system cells known as "mast cells" release a substance called histamine, which attaches to receptors in blood vessels causing them to enlarge. Histamine also binds to other receptors causing redness, swelling, itching and changes in secretions. By blocking histamine receptors, antihistamines prevent these symptoms.
Many over-the-counter antihistamines cause drowsiness. Non-sedating antihistamines are available by prescription.
Corticosteroids reduce inflammation associated with allergies. They prevent and treat nasal stuffiness, sneezing, and itchy, runny nose due to seasonal or
year-round allergies. They can also decrease inflammation and swelling from other types of allergic reactions. Some corticosteroids include:
- Nasal corticosteroids - Beconase, Rhinocort, Flonase, Nasonex and Nasocort, used to treat nasal allergy symptoms
- Inhaled corticosteroids - Advair, Beclovent, Pulmicort, Flovent, and Azmacort, used to treat asthma
- Eye drops - Dexamethasone, Alrex
- Oral steroids - Deltasone, also called prednisone
Weight gain, Fluid retention, High blood pressure, Growth suppression, Cataracts of the eyes, Bone thinning osteoporosis, Muscle weakness, cough and yeast infections of the mouth.
Decongestants relieve congestion and are often prescribed along with antihistamines. They come in nasal spray, eye drop, liquid or pill form.
How Do Decongestants Work
- Over-the-counter - Sudafed tablets or liquid, Neo-Synephrine and Afrin nasal sprays, and Visine eye drops.
- Prescription - Prescription decongestants include drugs like Claritin-D, Allegra-D and Zytec-D that combine a decongestant with another allergy medicine.
During an allergic reaction, tissues in your nose swell in response to contact with the allergen. That swelling produces fluid and mucous. Blood vessels in the eyes also swell, causing redness. Decongestants shrink swollen nasal tissues and blood vessels to relieve the symptoms of nasal swelling, congestion, mucous secretion and redness.
Increased blood pressure, insomnia or irritability and restrict urinary flow.
Some allergy medicines contain both an antihistamine and a decongestant to relieve multiple symptoms. There are also other combinations, such as those between an allergy medicine and asthma medicine and an antihistamine eye drop with a mast cell stabilizer drug (see below). Some examples of combination medicines include:
- Over-the-counter: Benadryl Allergy and Sinus, Tylenol Allergy and Sinus
- Prescription: Allegra-D, Claritin-D, Semprex-D,and Zyrtec-D for nasal allergies. Naphcon, Vasocon, Zaditor, Patanol and Optivar for allergic conjunctivitis
Bronchodilators are inhaled medicines used to control asthma symptoms and are available only with a prescription. A short-acting bronchodilator is used to provide quick relief for asthma symptoms during an attack. Long-acting bronchodilators can provide up to 12-hours of relief from asthma symptoms, which is helpful to people who suffer from night time asthma problems.
What Are the Side Effects?
Bronchodilators are potent drugs. If overused, they can cause dangerous side effects such as high blood pressure and a fast heartbeat.
Other Bronchodilators Over-The-Counter Medications
- Salt-water solution, or saline, is available as a nasal spray to relieve mild congestion, loosen mucus, and prevent crusting. These sprays contain no medicine
- Artificial tears, which also contain no medicine, are available to treat itchy, watery, and red eyes.
The most serious allergic reaction, anaphylactic shock, can come on suddenly and accelerate quickly. In some instances, survival may depend on an injection of epinephrine. If you have history of anaphylactic shock, you should keep a preloaded syringe of epinephrine with you.
NATUROPATHIC APPROACH TO ALLERGIES
The naturopathic approach to allergies is to identify why the individual has the allergy, and then treat the root cause of the problem.
If you are suffering from allergies that were present since birth or came back all of a sudden, or suspect that you may be suffering from allergies to the environment or certain foods, we can help you identify what caused the allergy to come about in the first place and help you treat the cause, we can also help you to decrease allergenic reactions to the environment and foods using natural supplements, along with other naturopathic modalities.
Alternative therapies help to reduce inflammation, minimize hypersensitivity reactions, modulate the immune system and heal the digestive tract.
An elimination / challenge trial may help uncover sensitivities. Remove suspected foods from the diet for two weeks. Reintroduce one at a time and watch for reactions. Do not perform a challenge with peanuts if there is history of anaphylactic shock.
A rotation diet, in which the same food is not eaten more than once every four days, may be helpful in minimizing allergic reactions.
Reduce pro-inflammatory foods in the diet including saturated fats (meats, especially poultry, and dairy), refined foods, and sugar. If you are sensitive to antibiotics, eat only organic meats. Increase intake of vegetables, whole grains, and essential fatty acids (cold-water fish, nuts [unless allergic to them], and
Omega 3 and certain Omega 6 essential fatty acids, such as flaxseed, borage, or evening primrose oil can be anti-inflammatory. Children should be supplemented with cod liver oil (1/2 to 1 tsp. per day).
Use a nasal rinse made with water and salt to taste like tears. Rinse each nostril and, with your head over a sink, hold your head sideways and let the water run from your upper nostril to your lower nostril. Keep your nostrils lower than your throat to prevent the salt water from draining into the back of your throat. This rinse shrinks your sinus membranes and increases drainage.
Evidence suggests that acupuncture is a useful complementary or alternative treatment option for people with allergic rhinitis. In one study that included 45 people with hay fever, acupuncture was as effective as antihistamine therapy in improving symptoms and the beneficial effects appeared to last longer.
Acupuncturists treat people with allergic rhinitis based on an individualized assessment of the excesses and deficiencies of qi located in various meridians. Allergic conditions often result from a liver or lung meridian deficiency. Treatment for this condition may include needling and moxibustion (a technique in which the herb mugwort is burned over specific acupuncture points).
HERBS AND HOMEOPATHY
Various herbs and homeopathic medicines have been quite helpful to reducing allergy symptoms and can also improve the body’s immune reaction to allergies.
* DISCLAIMER: The information on this article is the property of Dr. Sushma Shah, Naturopathic Doctor, and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any diseases or promote any services or products mentioned on the website.