Its that time of the year again! As the temperature rises, trees, grass, and other plants rapidly activate their growth cycle. The reproduction of plants release pollen into our atmosphere which causes an estimated 10 million Canadians to suffer from allergy symptoms. Allergy season seems to get worse and worse every year because the global climate is becoming warmer than normal.
Allergic symptoms occur because our immune system is hyperactive and becomes oversensitive to allergens. Risks of allergy development include genetics, stress, allergen exposure, and body toxic burden.
Upon exposure to allergens, our immune system will produce specific antibodies to the allergens. These antibodies will trigger a cascade of immune reactions, which include the migration of mast cells towards the surface of our nose, eyes, throat, and lungs. Once the mast cells are in place and the allergens come into contact, they release a chemical called histamine in response to exposure. Histamine causes dilation of blood vessels, which translates into swollen skin, contraction of smooth muscles, and hypersecretion of fluids.
The histamine release explains why we have a stuffy nose, itchy watery eyes, scratchy throat, sneezing, coughing, and asthma attacks (in asthmatic patients).
The pollen schedule of British Columbia:
March to May – Trees
May to July – Grass
July to October – Weeds
1) Over-the-counter antihistamines such as Benadryl, Reactine, Allegra, Claritin, Aerius, etc.
The majority of seasonal allergy sufferers have used these at some point in their lives. Eventually, none of these medication will become ineffective because the immune systems became adapts to them.
2) Allergy shot
Allergy shots are done at the specialist’s office. It can be time consuming and painful as you will need it done as frequently as on weekly basis. This will require a referral by your family doctor. So far it is proven to work well for severe allergy cases. But what about the rest of us who aren’t the extreme cases?
Latest allergy treaments:
1) SLIT (Sublingual Immunotherapy)
This type of treatment represents 70% of allergy treatments in Europe. In Canada, we are slowly transitioning towards SLIT instead of allergy shots because of its effectiveness and practicality. It has been proven to work in over 60 clinical trials.
How does SLIT work?
Patients will be screened to find out their specific sensitivities at our clinic first. This will confirm their allergen type(s) and allow specific solutions to be compounded for them.
SLIT is given as drops under the tongue three times daily. It works by building immune tolerance to the allergen. Every drop introduces very small amount of allergen(s) to gradually teach our body to tolerate the allergens. The daily drops simulate exposure and the immune system will be desensitized to the allergens in time. SLIT is initially used during allergy season, but as symptoms improve, we recommend using it pre-season which means 30 to 60 days prior to allergy season to prepare our body’s defense.
SLIT will reduce your dependency to antihistamine medications. It is easy to use even on young children. Unlike allergy shots, it is painless and requires no time away from work or school due to appointments at your specialist’s office.
The majority of patients experience significant symptom relief within the initial few months of SLIT. As with all allergy immunotherapy including shots, it is recommended to continue for three to five years for permanent desensitization.
SLIT serums are compounded with a Drug Identification Number (DIN) which is recognized by most extended health care plan for cost reimbursement. This is the best treatment for allergies because of its efficacy and cost saving benefit.
For more information on SLIT, visit www.westernallergy.com or ask us at Revive Naturopathic Health Clinic.