Archive for the ‘Immunities’ Category

Immunotherapy Insight

There are plenty of over-the-counter medications to help with allergy symptoms: antihistamines, decongestants, steroids and more.

However, continued use can lead to the drugs being less effective and, in some cases, can trigger significant side effects.

Allergy immunotherapy could be a long-term solution for people with chronic allergies such as allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, allergic conjunctivitis or even stinging insect allergies.

“Much like a vaccine, immunotherapy more commonly known as allergy shots, involves receiving injections of a particular allergen or allergens over a period of time so that your body develops an increased tolerance of these allergens,” said Ed Neuzil, PhD, MSN, ARNP, FAANP.  “It requires a patient come into the practitioners office on a regular basis to receive the injections.”

Neuzil says that patients may, although uncommon to his practice experience redness, itching and swelling at the injection site or they may experience some sneezing or nasal congestion. But the reactions are typically not serious and are temporary.

“The process which includes the build-up phase when the allergen is increasingly added to the body and then the maintenance phase, may last a year or so,” said Neuzil. Then if the immunotherapy is successful, maintenance treatment can go on for another three to five years.

Neuzil suggests that you speak with your medical practitioner to determine whether you’re a candidate for immunotherapy.  You can watch this video which explains how practitioners determine which allergens a patient may be allergic to.

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The little sleep disruptor

Many parents are now trying to get their kids back onto the regular “school sleeping schedule.” After a summer of late nights and lax schedules, this transition time is important so a child gets a good night’s sleep.

We know sleep is essential for good performance a.k.a. “doing well in school.” But did you know that one source of anti-sleep could be residing in your child’s bed?

allergy triggers, dust mites, asthma, indoor allergens

Dust mite allergens are the most common cause of allergy and asthma triggers.

Dust mites are miniscule insects that leave droppings to which many people are allergic.  They enjoy warm temperatures, eat dead skin from pets and humans, and burrow in sofas, beds and even stuffed animals. Believe it or not but we shed enough skin daily to feed a million dust mites.

Dust mite allergy sufferers can experience congestion, sneezing and for people with asthma, wheezing and difficulty breathing. These symptoms can make it difficult to get sleep soundly.

The best way to prevent dust mite allergy symptoms is to avoid exposure:

  • Put airtight, plastic dust-mite covers on pillows, mattresses and box springs.
  • Use pillows filled with polyester instead of feathers.
  • Wash bedding once a week in hot water and dry it in the dryer.
  • Vacuum carpets weekly and wipe up bare floors to get rid of dust.

There are some over the counter medications that help diminish the symptoms but do not treat the problem. Evaluation by your medical provider may help guide you in choosing the right medications and, in some cases, referral to a specialist who is trained in evaluating and treating allergies may be needed.

Allergy testing is used to help identify if an allergy exist and immunotherapy may be used to help stimulate your body’s immune system in developing anti-bodies to help protect against the allergy may be necessary.

One promising bit of news is that researchers are on the cusp of developing a vaccine that can combat dust-mite allergies. The University of Iowa scientists have had good success with this immunity-approach in lab animals. Here’s hoping tests on the new vaccine continue to go well for human consumption.

An unlikely source of seasonal allergies

There are few things as refreshing as biting into a cool, juicy fruit on a hot summer day. The sweetness and natural juices are ideal to help quench your thirst.22029048_xxl

For people who suffer from seasonal allergies, this seemingly healthy indulgence may possibly lead to other health issues that include an itchy feeling in the mouth, throat and on the lips.

“Some fruits and vegetables have identical proteins to those in pollen which can trigger allergic reactions,” said Frances “Ed” Neuzil, Jr. PhD, MSN, ARNP, FAANP and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Central Florida. “Eating these plant-based foods can cause what’s called oral allergy syndrome and can cause an immune response similar to when a person inhales airborne allergy triggers.”

For example, melons such as cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon, have a protein which mirrors what’s in ragweed pollen. Other fruits and vegetables which share similar triggers are banana, zucchini, cucumber and kiwi.

Apples are another common source of oral allergy symptoms for people who are allergic to birch pollen.

Neuzil notes that not everyone who suffers from seasonal allergies experience the oral allergy symptoms and that the itchiness may not occur each time the food is consumed. He says it may only happen during a person’s respective allergy season when those airborne proteins are more prominent.

The key is recognizing when you have symptoms and to stop eating the offending food. Sometimes, removing the skin or eating canned or frozen forms of the fruit may be better tolerated.

Neuzil recommends consulting with a medical practitioner to help determine the source of the allergic reaction to learn ways to avoid further symptoms.

Antibiotics prescribed less? Consider pumping up saline spray usage to prevent illness.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control issued a report that further backs concerns from medical practitioners over-prescribing antibiotics because of the potential for “super bugs” which become resistant to medication.  Officials urge more diligence in preventing the spread of infection while encouraging practitioners to avoid prescribing antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.

In the past few years, some medical professionals have been stingier about prescribing antibiotics for symptoms associated with virus-related colds, sore throats and respiratory infections because the medications are only effective with bacteria-borne illness.

If not antibiotics, then what? A saline spray can help ease symptoms associated with colds and viruses which include nasal congestion and irritated sinuses by rinsing away the thick nasal mucus.

nasal spray, nasal spray addiction, saline rinse, sinus rinse, allergy spray, When seeing patients at his own allergy, sinus and asthma practice in Central Florida, Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and developer of Dr. Neuzil’s Irrigator nasal cleansing spray (http://www.IrrigatorNasalSpray.com) will often encourage patients to use a nasal rinse with natural essential oils and herbal enhancements to:

  • Reduce congestion and cough associated with thick nasal mucus and post nasal drainage;
  • Soothe irritated sinuses;
  • Moisturize nasal passages thereby preserving natural protectants in our noses.

“Think of the saline spray as irrigating out the bad stuff that can lead to discomfort,” said Neuzil. “When the mucous is gone and the sinus irritation improved, the patient feels better.  A sinus spray is especially good for children because it is better tolerated than I sinus rinse, safe and non-irritating.”

Neuzil encourages his patients to regularly rinse their nose with the herbal-enhanced saline spray even when they’re not sick, as a preventative measure against illness.

  • It will rinse out dust, pollen, pet dander and other potential allergic triggers which cause sinus irritation and often lead to congestion, cough, itchy eyes, etc.
  • The spray will moisturize nasal passages thereby preserving the cilia or tiny hairs in the nose which trap airborne germs and irritants.
  • Saline sprays will help open up nasal passages so patients breathe easier throughout the day.

Time to Call in the Expert for Allergy Relief?

You’ve been suffering through the sniffles, itchy eyes and sneezing for the same three-week period every year. Despite trying many over-the-counter medications and other therapies, nothing works.

If this describes you, it may be time to call in the expert.

A health care provider who has specialized training and experience to evaluate, diagnose and treat this symptoms may be exactly what you need. They can identify if your symptoms are triggered by allergies or another non-allergic trigger. Your health care provider will take a thorough health history followed by possible allergy testing that can help determine what specific allergen you may be sensitive to. The health care provider will determine whether skin testing, (a process where you may be exposed to “tiny” bite of allergen) or blood testing would be the most appropriate for you.

Once specific allergens are identified, your health care provider will work with you to develop a plan to avoid the allergens that trigger your symptoms. For example, if you are allergic to dust mites or indoor mold, you will want to take steps to reduce these allergens in your house as much as possible.

Once diagnosed, your provider may prescribe immunotherapy or allergy shots, a proven treatment approach providing long-term relief for many people suffering from allergic rhinitis.

Your provider might also recommend medications to decrease itchy eyes, sneezing, allergy season, ragweed season, Ed Neuzil, sinus rinse, saline spray, natural allergy reliefallergic rhinitis symptom which may include nasal corticosteroid sprays, antihistamine pills, nasal antihistamine sprays or decongestant pills. A complete list of medications used to treat allergies can be found in the AAAAI Drug Guide.

“It is important to begin taking allergy medications for seasonal allergies before tree pollen and other irritants are in the air each spring,” says Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida “If you start taking allergy medications before you first come into contact with spring allergens, these medications can help reduce the effects of histamine and other substances responsible for your allergy symptoms.”

Neuzil recommends checking the The National Allergy Bureau TM (NAB) for the most accurate and reliable pollen and mold levels across the U.S. in order to help across the U.S. in order to help determine when to start taking preventative steps.

 

Give your immune system a workout

Years ago, it was thought that by protecting ourselves and our children from allergens, we would prevent development of allergies and the irritating symptoms that accompany them.

However, some recent studies indicate that living in a “clean bubble” may actually be detrimental.

The thinking is allergies and asthma are more prevalent in our society –especially among children–because our immune systems are not exposed to bacteria, germs and allergens which our bodies need to practice fighting off.

Some scientists believe the use of hand sanitizers and excessive cleanliness contribute to the increase in asthma, allergies and autoimmune disorders in a theory called the “hygiene hypothesis.”

Recently the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology began recommending parents to bring pets into their homes so that the children are exposed to the dander in animal fur so that the kids’ immune systems develop and fortify. Children’s immune system develop throughout their grow span and continue to develop throughout their teens and in some cases early twenties.

pet allergies, immune system development, allergens, germs, bacteria

Some experts believe exposing children to pet dander at an early age helps build up immunities to prevent allergy development

Ed Neuzil, ARNP, PhD and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Lady Lake, Florida suggests comparing building the immune system to working out.

“If the exposure is too great and we aren’t ready, we get symptoms. It’s just like overdoing it during when we first start exercising,” said Neuzil. “However, by exposing ourselves to allergens, germs and other irritants a little at a time, we can build and strengthen our immune system so that when we experience a large exposure, our immune systems can better protect us.”

While many of cringe at the thought of letting our children get dirty or exposing them to a classroom of other sniffling, sneezing and coughing kids, there is a happy medium which experts say we should aim for: common sense.

It is important to keep our homes and surroundings hygienic but, except in situations of extreme risk, you don’t have to sanitize everything. Remember that our amazing bodies have immune systems that, after a good workout, will do the job of keeping us healthy.