Asthma is a repeated tendency for the small airways between your mouth and the very tiny ends of your lungs to ‘close up’ too easily and too often. It is also associated with those airways producing mucus. Sometimes people get it from doing sport, or pollution but some people experience it because they are allergic to something that they inhaled.
We can treat all forms of asthma from mild to severe with a focus on preventative therapy if recurrent. We try to deal with underlying allergic triggers.
What is an allergy?
‘Allergy’ is a word commonly used to describe a bodily reaction to something from the environment. It might be a rash, itchy eyes, sneezing, snot, asthma or some kind of gut upset just to name a few. It may be in response to food, medications or some kind of environmental factor that can take years to hunt and find.
What kinds of allergy are there?
In general, there are a few categories of allergy:
Food reactions that cause rash, skin reactions, diarrhoea or serious life threatening reactions
Nose allergies: runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing
Airways Allergy: asthma, wheezing, coughing
Skin: red itchy rashes, hives
The Allergic Runny Nose
Allergic Rhinitis: describes a runny nose, sneezing, full sinuses and a mucus drip down the back of the throat (often described as a throat clearing) that is usually in response to an inhaled agent. The most common agent is House Dust Mite (a tiny critter that eats our dead skin cells and inhabits our home) and grasses, pollens, animal fur etc.
Allergic rhinitis can be acute, or chronic and it can further stimulate red rashes or bad asthma as well.
Food allergies, or intolerances are a much more diverse set of problems. Some foods will outright make your body react badly and potentially kill you; such as shrimp, peanuts. In other cases, the gut is a sensitive part of the body that interfaces with the immune system of the body and can act unexpectedly when it meets certain foods such as gluten in wheat.
Some people who think they have allergies actually have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) where certain foods feed the abnormal bacteria and cause bloating and discomfort. Sibo treatment is straightforward and works very well.
How do we test for allergies?
Allergies can be tested by looking at immunoglobulin E or IgE. This is a protein the body makes to target foreign molecules and in a way, ‘drive’ the allergy. For example, a person might have IgE to house dust mites or animal dander. This will point to the cause of their sneezing, rashes and so on.
Other tests that can be done include looking at your general wellness and vitamins, to make sure your immune system is working without restraints. Sometimes, hidden infection diseases (especially parasites) can promote your body to make histamine, the substance that promotes red rashes. Evaluating for this is important
What is histamine?
Histamine is a chemical stored in certain immune cells placed all over our bodies that causes allergies when released. It can cause swelling, itchiness and inflammation that can lead to asthma, runny nose itchiness virtually anywhere. Histamine is a key cause of allergy in almost any part of the body.
Some people eat foods that promote histamine production. Also, some people have less of the enzyme that gets rid of histamine. It is possible to test this histamine and for people prone to having more histamine, dietary modification can be recommended. It is of note that many people with allergy such as skin, gut or allergic sneezing will take ‘antihistamines’ such as cetirizine or claratyne to deal with the problem.
What can be done to really solve the problem of allergy?
Anybody with chronic rashes, nasal obstruction, worsening asthma and a falling quality of life should have investigation into the cause of the allergic reaction. We can then either remove it, assist with histamine reduction or consider immunotherapy.
Sublingual immunotherapy is available in our clinic.