There are a lot more allergies these days than when most of us were in grade school. Of course, some kids would have an allergic response to something. These days, though? It seems rare to not have some sort of allergic reaction to something in the environment. That could be a food, animal, liquid, or plant. It becomes even more prevalent when you realize that IgE responses aren’t the only signal of an allergy. Things normally called hypersensitivity or intolerance are allergic reactions, as well.
And it’s not only food. The CDC1 published a report in September 2022 on the last 12 months. It reported how many people came in for certain kinds of allergic diseases. 5.2 million, or 7.2% of the population reported hay fever (allergic rhinitis). 9.6% of the population, or 7.1 million people reported respiratory allergies. Reported food allergies were at 4.8 million (6.5%). Skin allergies were the highest at 9.2 million or 12.6% of the population. Some version of eczema (atopic dermatitis) was the primary diagnosis in 217,000 ER visits.
This is not a small problem, these days. And people may not even notice their inflammatory response. The allergic inflammation may show itself in a way that isn’t a conventional allergy symptom. Why? What happened?
Allergies—More Than a Runny Nose
Mayo Clinic2 explains the immunology behind allergies. Allergies occur when your body launches an immune response on a foreign substance. This can be bee venom, pet dander, pollen, foods, or just about anything else that doesn’t belong in your body.
Your body produces a wide array of cell types. These include neutrophils, leukocytes, mast cells, T cells, basophils, cytokines, antibodies, and lymphocytes. These mediators work to kill off things that aren’t supposed to be in the body. Normally, these are viruses, bacteria, infections, and the like. Some things belong in the body, but not in the bloodstream—food, for example. When there is an infiltration in the bloodstream, the body labels it an antigen.
An antigen is treated the same way viruses and bacteria are. The immune system attacks this irritant because it’s not supposed to be there. As a result, we end up with allergy symptoms. This is like how we end up with cold symptoms when our body is fighting off a virus or bacteria.
The immune response your body has to a certain irritant can manifest in a few different ways. These can affect your skin, sinuses, airways, digestive system, and more. Take a look at the following symptoms and see if you recognize any.
- Breathing problems
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Red, Swollen, Itchy, Tearing Eyes
- Mental Fatigue
- Brain Fog
- Abdominal Bloating
- Skin rashes and redness
- Itchy mouth, nose, skin, and other areas
- Loose Bowels
- Allergic asthma
- Intestinal Cramping
You may recognize some of these as symptoms. Chances are, you don’t recognize all of them as allergic reactions. Few people consider the addition of poundage around their middle a possible allergy symptom. But, think about it. Allergies inflame your insides. Your organs catch and hold that allergen, throwing a flag up to summon the immune response. The allergen irritates the organ, causing it to grow inflamed like your finger would if you shut it in a door. It gets red, tender, and swollen. If your insides do that, where do they swell? Outward.
Of course, these symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening. Many people will wave off some symptoms because it isn’t anaphylaxis. This isn’t doing your body any favors, though. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consider that they might be an immune response.
How is it Normally Addressed?
What is the conventional standard form of treatment for allergies? Antihistamines, leukotriene receptor antagonists, glucocorticoids, corticosteroids, steroids, decongestants, or allergy shots. Nature Medicine3 also mentions methods to ensure that mast cells and basophils don’t respond to environmental proteins even in the presence of immunoglobulin E (IgE). These treatments all knock the immune response down so your symptoms disappear.
The problem with this form of treatment is that the allergies never go away. The treatment sets your body up for a never-ending cycle of chasing symptoms. It will never be strong enough to defend your body as it’s designed to if you keep working against it.
Does the conventional medical model even work? Look back at the statistics, above. Would you say this method is working to heal allergies? No. Which means we have to look at things from a different perspective.
Why is the Immune System Responding Exaggeratedly?
Nature Medicine3 says that:
A limited knowledge of the pathophysiology of these [allergy] disease subgroups has been the greatest obstacle to identifying consistent correlations between genes, the environment and the different disease subgroups.
While genes are often blamed, they have very little to do with the allergic response itself. Let’s take a look at things that can cause an exaggerated immune response:
- Insect bites
- Dust mites
- Chemicals (check your sprays, deodorants, hair care products, cookware, etc.)
Most of these things are very obviously ‘foreign’ to the body, and a few are not. Ever heard of mercury poisoning or allergies to bee stings? What about an allergy to apples? What happens if your body has an allergy to something? Chances are, your body will repeat that same response when introduced to both new stimuli.
But, here is where we can start to think differently. Most people that have allergies will avoid allergen exposure. This is missing a key question: what caused the substance to become an allergen in the first place?
That is the key question that no one bothers to ask, and, more importantly, no one seems to know the answer to. A few decades ago, the assault on our immune systems was a lot less. Vaccines were at a much reduced schedule. Foods were not as processed. Kids got more activity in. The environment was less toxic, and people were just not as sick and medicated as they are today.
It is often argued that vaccines don’t have anything to do with increased illness. This has been shown to be baseless due to clinical studies. Dr. Paul Thomas discusses some of his findings—including the correlation between vaccines and allergies—in this video.
The Bucket Theory
Imagine that everyone has a bucket when they are born. We encounter a lot of toxins in our environment, food, water, and home. These include vaccines and medications as well as chemicals like glyphosate. As this happens, our bucket fills up a little bit each time. Over time, all these toxins in our bucket become huge stressors to our immune systems. Eventually, our bucket will overflow, resulting in an exaggerated immune response.
Most would assume that we are born with an empty bucket, but, sadly, this is hardly ever the case. Most children born in the 21st century probably have buckets a quarter to half full. Some may already be overflowing due to the toxicity of their mothers. Pregnant moms take medications and get flu shots before their babies are born. Most moms can breastfeed their babies, but choose not to. They instead choose to give their children formulas that stress out the immune system. This is because Baby’s body isn’t ready for things like dairy and soy at the time formula is normally given. Add to that the stressful lifestyles that people have and it’s no wonder that our kids have so many allergies.
The Wellness Way Approach
We’ve been conditioned since we were children to take something when we feel bad to get fast relief. We grab for a medication to react to an immune response that we created. We suppress our immune systems and assault our bodies daily; doesn’t it make sense they’d react?
But, guess what? There is hope. Exaggerated immune responses can be changed. That medication that lowers your immune system, so you don’t have symptoms does not have to be your answer. There is another way.
We have to stop causing our immune systems to have an exaggerated response. We do this by choosing to support our immune systems properly—not train them to respond incorrectly.
What you now see as just one allergic response or an annoying ten pounds that won’t go away? It can turn into several responses. You can stop this by getting to the triggers of the problem and supporting your immune system correctly.
WE DON’T GUESS…WE TEST!
If you currently have allergies or suspect you may have some undiagnosed ones, you need to get tested. A simple blood test can result in a journey to a whole new you.
Once you’ve been tested, your doctor will be able to determine the best care for your specific needs. Contact a Wellness Way clinic, today!