Surprising Allergy Anecdotes

What to know about common issues.

Approximately 55 percent of Americans suffer from allergies. Pollen, dander, dairy products, gluten, and mold are just a few of the most common allergens. In fact, if you don’t suffer from allergies, you are actually in the minority!

Countless people think that their low energy, problems with digestion, or headaches are “normal,” when in fact, they may be the signs of undiagnosed allergic reactions. People who suffer from one allergy also tend to suffer from many others because allergies are often a sign of a deeper dysfunction in your system. Only by getting to the root cause of these allergies can a person eliminate them.

So, what might you want to know about allergies?

There aren’t always visible or seemingly related signs.

Allergens don’t always affect the system the way you might think (like with an obvious rash or hives). Plus, symptoms may not appear related. For instance, respiratory allergies can affect more than just the respiratory system, and food allergies can affect more than digestion.

In fact, allergic sensitivities to food, such as sugar, can cause joint pain due to inflammation. Gluten sensitivity can produce lethargy and brain fog. Likewise, inhaling mold doesn’t simply affect breathing. It can also cause headaches and itchy skin. Finally, many chemicals, such as MSG or artificial sweeteners can even affect our emotional well-being, producing nervousness and anxiety.

The environment is loaded with allergens.

Allergens are carried in our furniture, our cars, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. Toxic chemicals and fungi are two very common types of allergens that may be hidden in our everyday environments.

Drugs and creams may worsen allergies.

Americans spend more than $4 billion a year to fight their allergies. The majority of that money is spent on doctor visits and medications. Antihistamines and other drugs may provide temporary relief, but their use may be accompanied by uncomfortable side effects. By loading their bodies with difficult-to-process chemicals, people who use such medications may be making their allergies worse.

If you’re using beauty products and soaps with chemicals in them (sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, and phthalates — just to name a few), you may be wearing your body down with chemical allergens. Pores are permeable; you absorb whatever is applied to your skin!

There are seven types of foods that cause the majority of food allergies.

These include: dairy products, gluten products (wheat, barley, and rye), sugar, alcohol, peanuts, eggs, and mold-containing foods (such as many dried fruits, moldy cheeses, and mushrooms).

By eliminating or even reducing your intake of these foods, you can help reset your body’s load of allergens and eliminate your allergy symptoms.

Are you using dairy alternatives?

Another common allergy is to soy. While avoiding dairy is essential for healing certain allergies, replacing it with soy can give some people terrible digestion and tiredness. Try almond or coconut options with your allergist’s guidance.

Runny noses and itchy eyes can be due to more than pollen.

Pollen is often thought of as the only airborne allergen. However, this allergy is seasonal and usually disappears once plants stop releasing pollen. If you have typical hay fever symptoms (runny nose, watery eyes, swelling, and itchiness) that last year-round, you may actually have mold allergies.

Mold is common in any damp area in the home, such as bathrooms and basements. While black mold is visible to the eye, many other forms of mold are not as easy to spot and will build up in humid areas. Mold can also be ingested when we eat certain foods, such as peanuts, dried fruits, green salads, and moldy cheese (Roquefort blue cheese, brie cheese). These should be avoided for mold-sensitive individuals.

We can be allergic to chemicals in our tap water.

Tap water in America won’t produce acute allergic symptoms. However, it is filled with numerous chemicals to which people have allergic sensitivities. The buildup of such chemicals in our bodies over time can wear them down and lead to even more allergic symptoms.

Many people experience itchiness and discomfort after swimming in a chlorinated pool, yet they drink chlorine almost daily in their tap water. Likewise, small amounts of other chemicals, such as arsenic, mercury, fluoride, and even uranium are allowed in our tap water. For this reason, having a carbon-filtered reverse osmosis water purifier is essential to help deal with water-borne allergens.

Bad gut bacteria can make you allergic to many foods.

There are more than three trillion bacteria in your gut. They help process and digest foods, as well as extract nutrients. However, through improper care of fruits and vegetables, untidy kitchens, and exposures in urban environments, we may ingest bad bacteria that hurt our digestive systems.

Bad bacteria in our gut make it more difficult to process what are known as fermentable carbohydrates. These are the short-chain sugars that are found in countless foods such as beans; broccoli; cabbage; and pitted fruits such as peaches, plums, and cherries. Humans have a difficult time digesting these fermentable sugars because we lack the enzymes to break them down.

The end result is intolerance to fermentable carbs, which can produce bloating, gas, cramping, and constipation. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is often the direct result of allergic sensitivities produced by bad gut bacteria.

Furniture and cars can trigger chemical allergies.

Increasingly, much industrial production depends upon what are known as volatile organic compounds or VOCs. These compounds, such as formaldehyde, are found in many glues, vinyl products, paints, fuels, carpets, and plastics that we encounter daily.

For instance, furniture made of particleboard will often use formaldehyde in its glue, while the “new car smell” is actually that of volatile organic compounds in the paint, leather, carpet and glue. VOCs can produce a host of allergic symptoms, such as an itchy throat, headaches, brain fog, and confusion. At high concentrations, it is especially harmful to human health.

Allergic sensitivities can make you feel hungover without drinking a drop of alcohol.

If you’ve ever woken up irritable, with poor concentration, and with low energy, you might be having a “sugar hangover.” If you eat too much fruit and sugar, the yeast and mold that are common in the gut will begin to ferment it. This fermentation produces an autointoxication that is similar to what happens when you drink too much alcohol. Your body has a “brewery” churning in the gut. As a result, you may feel exactly as you would when hungover!

With these bits of information in mind, you should be armed with the knowledge to ask more questions of your healthcare professional to get the answers you need for your family’s allergy care.