To Your Health
At the kickoff of hay-fever season, 5 surprising things to know about allergy causes and treatments
If you suffer from food or airborne sources, you know the routine for treating allergies: Avoid the allergen, take medication as necessary.
Even if you’re a self-styled expert, I bet you don’t know these five surprising things. Just a reminder: Never embark on a treatment program without the advice of a physician.
Hay Fever Can Trigger Food Allergies.
Most sufferers know that hay fever can be a signpost on the road to asthma. Far fewer realize that a pollen allergy can lead to sensitivity to vegetables or fruit. So-called oral allergy syndrome occurs because proteins in these foods can be so similar to pollen in molecular makeup that your immune system can’t tell them apart. Such confusion afflicts more than two thirds of all hay fever sufferers, whose mouths can itch and swell when they eat the produce in question. If you’re allergic to ragweed, likely irritants will be squashes, cucumbers and melons. A grass allergy can result in sensitivity to tomatoes, potatoes and oranges. How to avoid? Cook the food, which changes the protein.
Running After Work Can Ease Your Allergies.
Pollen is released early in the day, so an early-morning workout outdoors can exacerbate respiratory allergies. The solution: Exercise later in the day, showering immediately afterward (don’t forget to wash your hair) to remove any pollen that has stuck to you.
Blood Tests For Allergies Can Lead You Astray.
Drawing a vial of blood is an easier way to evaluate sensitivity to certain foods than skin testing or “challenges,” in which a suspected food is given under doctor’s supervision. But recent research has shown that blood tests can exaggerate or underestimate your immune system’s response. In one study reported in Pediatrics, the results agreed with the patient’s symptoms less than half the time. Scientists speculate that blood tests may be unable to distinguish between proteins in different foods that are similar in structure. The gold standard: the person’s actual reaction to the food.
The Remedy for a Peanut Allergy Is Peanuts.
It’s counterintuitive, but that’s what researchers at Duke University are finding. In a carefully controlled experiment, children with peanut allergies were given minuscule amounts of peanuts, a dose that was gradually increased over time. Half of the children who completed the program are no longer allergic to peanuts. Clearly, this is not anything to try on your own, but it’s a hopeful new direction for parents of kids with raging peanut allergies.
Red Pepper Spray Can Blunt Hay Fever Symptoms.
But wait a second, don’t reach for your can of Mace. The spray in question is a homeopathic remedy called Sinol-M, with the active ingredient capsaicin, or red pepper. In a study conducted at the Institute for Asthma and Allergy in Wheaton, Maryland, the spray relieved sneezing, as well as a runny or stuffy nose.
Find out more offbeat ways to battle the change of seasons: 6 Weird Ways to Kill a Cold…