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Could it Be…Allergies?

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The common cold is caused by a virus.  There are more than 200 known viral types that may be responsible for causing those miserable symptoms.  Because there are so many different viruses and serotypes involved it makes it nearly impossible to develop a vaccine to prevent colds or an effective treatment such as an antiviral.   Since a typical cold lasts only 5-7 days and does not cause any long term health problems, it would probably not be worth the effort to develop a medication anyway.  There are many ways to alleviate symptoms and shorten the duration of a cold however.

Symptoms of the Common Cold

  • Sore throat
  • Runny, stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • No fever
  • Aches and pains are not commonly associated
  • Usually you will still have an appetite

Onset and Duration

  • Usually comes on gradually
  • Most common Sept-April
  • Adults often get 2-4 colds/year
  • Children can get up to 12 colds/year
  • Colds are a powerful asthma trigger
  • Typically last about one week

Prevention

  • Frequent hand washing
  • Healthy diet of fruits and fresh vegetables
  • Adequate sleep & plenty of fluids
  • Exercise for 30-45 minutes, 3-5 times per week
Treatment
Begin treatment at the first sign of a cold in order to shorten the duration of cold symptoms.
  • Avoid simple sugars
  • Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Zinc
  • Sleep and hydration
  • Homeopathic cold and flu remedies
  • Acetaminophen or aspirin for headache
  • See a physician if cold lasts more than 10 days or respiratory symptoms develop
Consider herbs to support immune function
These herbs can be taken as teas, tinctures (Wishgarden makes non-alcoholic for children) or in freeze-fried capsules (adult)
•  Echinacea  Hydrastis (Goldenseal)
•  Myrrh
•  Trifolium (Red Clover)
•  Ligusticum (Osha)
Home hydrotherapy
Wet sock treatment acts to reflexively increase circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat.  It has a sedating action and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment.  This treatment is also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections. The wet sock treatment is best if repeated for three nights in a row, or as instructed by your physician.
Throat or Chest Compress– Warm the throat or chest with a warm  wash cloth or hot shower.  Dry the skin thoroughly and apply a thin cotton wrap (to throat) or a thin cotton T-shirt (to chest) that has been soaked in cold water and wrung out so that it is not dripping wet.  Cover this with a wool scarf (throat) or a wool sweater (chest).
Can go to bed this way.  By morning the scarf or T-shirt will be dry.  This treatment increases circulation and increases white blood cell activity.
Allergies/ Hay Fever can be common year round in the Pacific Northwest.According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 1 in 5 Americans between the ages of 6 and 74 develops an allergy to something and the numbers are growing.  About $600 million/year is spent for allergy relief, and most over the counter (OTC) allergy medications cause drowsiness or even have stronger, more dangerous side effects.The is most likely a genetic predisposition associated with allergy development.  Statistics show that if both parents are allergic, 67% of the children are allergic and if 1 parent is allergic, 33% of the children have allergy problems.Symptoms of Allergies
  • Congestion
  • Runny or stuffy nose (clear, white thin mucus)
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, throat and eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes (allergic shiners)
  • Watery eyes
  • Swollen tongue or lips/ hives, other skin rashes
  • Cough is rare
  • No fever

Cause:

Allergies are among the most common chronic conditions worldwide. Symptoms of allergies range from mild to making you miserable to putting you at risk for life-threatening reactions. An allergic reaction begins with the immune system. Our immune system protects us from invading organisms that can cause illness. With allergies, your immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance as an invader.  This substance is called an allergen. The immune system overreacts to the allergen by producing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These antibodies travel to cells that release histamine and other chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.

Most common triggers:

  • Dust mites
  • Animal dander
  • Pollen
  • Mold spores
  • Allergies

Duration

Weeks, months or all year.  Symptoms can last as long as you are exposed to the allergen.

Prevention

  • Avoid triggers. For example, remove carpeting to reduce dust mites and mold.
  • Air conditioning may help reduce mold indoors
  • Use mattress and pillow covers to reduce dust mites
  • Balance immune system to increase resistance to allergies, see your naturopathic physician!

Testing

  • Scratch (prick) IgE testing used for inhalants, pollens and foods
  • Intradermal testing with the suspected allergens (like TB)
  • RAST IgE and/or IgG -blood testing.
  • Therapeutic trial of abstinence from suspected environmental exposure

Treatment

Conventional Injection Desensitization (allergy shots)– Injection dilution is 0.1 ml from 1:100,000 (5X) to 1:100,000,000 (8X). The dose is increased (made more concentrated) by 75% (or less) until a maximum toleration concentration has been reached.

Naturopathic Treatments for Allergies

Diet: Abstinence from known or suspected food allergens for 3 months
Natural anti-histamines (quercetin, rutin, hesperidin)
Temporary avoidance of high in histamine foods such as chocolate, shellfish, sausage, sauerkraut, wine, etc. as a trial to see if allergy symptoms improve
Avoid the use of antibiotics, cortisone, birth control pills and other drugs when possible as they interfere with immune function.
Consider drug induced nutritional deficiencies or mal-absorption problems
Chemical & Industrial exposures such as exposure to heavy metals & mercury amalgam fillings
Environmental Controls
Maintain a clean home to minimize exposure to airborne allergens such as mold, dust, animal dander.
Dust with a moist rag
Air filter in bedroom ( <0.3 micron) – use room airflow to max. location
Central air filtration units
Vacuuming out duct work from room down to furnace
Replacing carpets with hard surface material
Replace with hypoallergenic mattresses and pillows
Plastic covering over old mattresses (unless chemical sensitivities are an issue)
Clean moldy areas fully
Keep pets outdoors
Vacuum using water trap, HEPA or central
See your naturopathic physician for specific treatment to help you during this cold and allergy season.

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