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Asthma and Allergies

Addressing the Cause

One of the most important things you can do if you suffer from asthma and allergies, is to avoid common allergy triggers such as dairy products, corn, soy, peanuts, shellfish, eggs, sugar and gluten. People can be allergic to most any food, and it is often foods that they eat most often and crave that are the culprits. 

Some people benefit from following an elimination diet which eliminates all the common allergens (and suspected allergens) from the diet for a specific amount of time.  Usually after a short "detox" period during which time symptoms worsen temporarily, the person begins to feel better than they have in a very long time, or perhaps ever.

 Then they slowly begin adding back one suspected allergen at a time (usually beginning with foods that are least suspected of being the problem to the most) noting any increase of symptoms.  This allows the person to determine which foods cause or contribute to their allergies.

Because gluten sensitivity is so prevalent today, many people simply eliminate gluten in all its forms, and find that is sufficient to alleviate their symptoms.  Eating gluten free is easier than ever with many gluten-free products being carried in most grocery stores, and an internet filled with recipes and advice.

It is also important to make sure that you're drinking enough water each day - preferably about eight cups over the course of the day. And no, coffee, tea, juice, and soda don't count. If you're not used to drinking water, start with four cups per day, get used to doing that, and work your way up to eight cups per day.

To put it simply, if you're not drinking enough water, your internal metabolic environment is toxic. For those with allergies and other sensitivities, failing to drink enough water can exacerbate the problem.

Another very important factor in lowering your toxic load and reducing hypersensitivites is to avoid all fragrances (including those in personal care products like shampoo and conditioner,) laundry detergents, dryer sheets, and toxic cleaning chemicals.  Opt for fragrance free products, and clean with baking soda and vinegar instead.

Asthma and allergies are big business.  Approximately 20 million Americans suffer from asthma, and approximately 50 million suffer from allergies. Taking into consideration the overlap between these two conditions, more than 60 million Americans suffer from either asthma, allergies, or both.

In total, the costs for medications, emergency room visits, hospital admissions, and the loss of business productivity are huge - reaching upwards of $18 billion annually.1 Additionally, the negative impact on children is ongoing and significant, resulting in 14 million school days that are missed annually due to asthma and allergies. These two disorders are the number one reason for school absenteeism.2

Conventional treatment of allergies and asthma relies upon a variety of medications, and if you suffer from one of these disorders, you know all about the meds. The medications typically used to treat allergies include corticosteroid nasal sprays, and antihistamines. Allergy patients may also undergo immunotherapy, receiving a course of desensitization injections that are given regularly over a number of years.

For asthma, the gold standard of medication is inhaled corticosteroids. Asthma inhalers have become so commonplace that they even appear regularly as props in films and television series. It is not unusual to see a character on screen pull out an inhaler and take a quick dose during "challenging" moments and stressful situations.

One of the frustrations with asthma and allergy medication is that there is no end-point. As of now, there is really no cure, although some lucky people do seem to "grow out of it", and there have been some promising results from specialized breathing exercises in cases of mild asthma.  Most of the time however, allergies and asthma continue to be an ongoing challenge that requires continuing medication. Is it possible that there could be an alternative solution?

"Alternative" is the key word. Conventional medical treatment typically focuses on addressing a patient's symptoms rather than the underlying cause.  With allergies and asthma it's successful to some extent, though the downside is that these symptoms continue year after year, often worsening over time. Is there anything else that could be done?

Consider chiropractic care. The chiropractic health care approach is unique and comprehensive, offering positive benefits to a variety of ailments and conditions. In the case of "hypersensitivity conditions" such as asthma and allergies, chiropractic care can help to normalize the body's flow of nerve signals, thereby reducing symptoms. Chiropractic treatment can also help remove the blockages to the body's innate healing abilities. By correcting these imbalances, chiropractic treatment may help reduce hypersensitivity reactions.

Chiropractic care often includes nutritional counseling, which can be a critical component for people with asthma and allergies. Such individuals need to optimize their physical health as much as possible, and nutritional awareness can play an important role. A balanced diet can help support all metabolic systems, reduce chronic inflammation and irritation, and provide the energy necessary to participate in regular exercise.

The benefits of chiropractic care are wide-ranging, and may be very useful in cases of hypersensitivity disorders such as asthma and allergies.

1Weiss K: The costs of asthma. Asthma and Allergy Foundation, 1998 [updated 2001].
2The Condition of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2001.

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