Understanding Allergies

What is an allergy?
This material is provided by your allergist to help you understand the role substances in your environment play in the occurrence of symptoms. This information will make it possible for you to reduce your exposure to these items so your body can become stronger. Many patients have enjoyed feeling better after making a few changes in their indoor environments. An allergy is an over reaction to substances which are ordinarily- harmless to other individuals. It can be described as a hypersensitivity reaction to a sensitizing substance called an allergen which is recognized as foreign by the body. Allergy reactions are often due to excessive amounts of a natural antibody, antibody E. Allergic individuals produce too much antibody E and as a result may experience symptoms of allergy.

What are the common allergens?
House dust, pollen, mold, animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, and foods are common allergens. Medicines and chemicals can also cause allergic symptoms.

What is meant by the Total Allergy Load?
You Total Allergy Load is the sum total of the factors which contribute to the production of allergic symptoms.

Example: The Bucket Theory

  • Walls of the bucket = Your immune system's capacity
  • Water level in the bucket = Summation of your load
  • Water overflow = Symptoms
  • Mat under the bucket = Medications (Stress = Lowers walls of the bucket and increases water level)
  • Immunotherapy Raises the walls of the bucket
  • Avoidance therapy = Allows less water into the bucket

Avoidance should include not only the identified allergens, but also factors which may contribute to increasing your total load, i.e. environmental , physical, and emotional stresses.

Your allergy load can be increased by exposure to several allergens in small amounts, or a combination of allergens to which you are mildly allergic and some to which you react severely.

What are some things that will decrease my allergy load?

  1. Isolate the allergen or allergen producing item. For example, mattress encasings can keep you from coming in contact with dust mites, mold, and house dust.
  2. Remove the allergen or allergen producing items from your home and particularly your bedroom. Any of the common allergens or other items that bring on your symptoms should be taken from your breathing space.
  3. Ventilate to remove allergens or pollutants. This can be helpful to dilute tobacco smoke, odors, and chemical fumes. These should be avoided by the sensitive person.
  4. Filter allergens from the air. High performance filters in the central air system can remove dust, pollen, and mold which all contribute to total allergy load. Room Air Purifiers can provide a continuous supply of clean, allergen-free air for working and sleeping.
  5. Recognize the need to make your bedroom as allergen-free as possible. Breathing clean air all night gives your immune system an opportunity to recuperate from daytime exposures.
  6. Consult with your doctor about improving your nutrition.
  7. Lower your stress level. Stress lowers your resistance to allergen exposures.
  8. Get more rest.

Where to begin with your allergen avoidance program:

  1. Survey your home for any visible mold growth or any area with a musty smell. Remove the mold with a non-toxic cleaner such as Safety Clean, and treat the surface with a mold retardant such as X-158.
  2. Install a high performance, washable electrostatic air filter in your central air system.
  3. Cover your mattress and pillows with zippered, impermeable encasings.
  4. Remove pets from the home or at least from your bedroom.
  5. If you cannot remove carpet from your bedroom, treat with X-Mite, a tannic acid product.
  6. Keep your bedroom as dust free as possible.
  7. Use a portable room air purifier in your bedroom or where you spend the most time.