An allergy is an adverse immune system reaction to a substance that most people find harmless.
Allergies can manifest in many ways. Common examples include headaches, fatigue, sneezing, watery eyes, stuffy nose or sinuses and skin rash. Exposure to dust, pollen, dust mites, animal skin flakes, certain chemicals or food and a host of other materials can trigger allergic reactions.
What is worse is that an allergy can worsen other disorders. These include asthma, bronchitis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, ear infection, eczema, hives, migraine, chronic fatigue syndrome, gastrointestinal disorders, glaucoma, kidney problems, weight gain, seizures, heart palpitations, depression and even cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis.
Types of Allergies
An allergen is a protein that the body judges to be foreign and dangerous.
Allergies fall into two categories:
The most common cause of environmental allergies is the pollen of plants such as trees, weeds, and grass. House dust mites, mold and tobacco smoke are other common causes. Less common, but equally serious, are products often found in the house such as cosmetics, perfume, household cleaning agents, gas for cooking, clothes and even the metal used as teeth filling.
Other types of environmental allergies that can trigger an attack are pesticides in foods, heavy metal in water, vehicle exhaust fumes, synthetic chemicals in personal hygiene products, cleaning supplies and building or construction materials.
As we now spend most of our time indoors, and often in air-conditioned rooms or buildings that re-circulate the same stale air, indoor air irritants are triggering more cases of allergic attacks than outdoor sources.
Food allergies can be defined as abnormal or adverse immunological responses to foods that other people deem harmless.
Foods most commonly found to cause allergies include wheat, corn, milk and other dairy products, egg whites, tomatoes, soy, shellfish, peanuts, chocolate, as well as food dyes and additives. Most adverse reactions to foods are sensitivities and not true allergies. Some will experience true, antibody-mediated allergy and some suffer from food sensitivities.
Symptoms of food sensitivities can be immediate or delayed. They often show up as gastrointestinal problems, such as belching, bloating, gas and diarrhea, headache, or a lack of mental clarity and fatigue. Additives in foods such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame (found in NutraSweet, Equal) and sulphite have been shown to trigger adverse reactions, including headaches and hyperactivity in children.
What Causes Allergies?
The underlying causes of allergy and sensitivity are dietary and lifestyle factors that break down our immune system and barrier defences. Specifically, imbalances in our immune function, a faulty barrier function (such as leaky gut) and toxic overload can cause the development or continuation of allergy and sensitivity in varying degrees.
Imbalance in Immune Function
An unbalanced immune system substantially increases the risk of allergic reactions. These can result from repeated childhood and adult vaccinations and immunizations and damage to healthy intestinal flora due to over-reliance on antibiotics and steroids, especially the birth control pill.
In particular, the increasing use of antibiotics can cause allergic reaction. In many cases, their use is unnecessary. Antibiotics add to a confused immune system which cannot differentiate friend from foe.
When that happens, it reacts to every input – even those that are not harmful – and treats them as allergens. Consequently, the immune system breaks down with fatigue, allowing viruses and bacteria to enter and attack the body.
As our everyday food and environment become saturated with pollutants and chemicals, our body’s ability to eliminate toxins cannot keep up.
All organs involved in detoxification, including the allergy barrier systems of the intestines, skin and respiratory tract can become overloaded. This overload weakens the barrier functions and can lead to sensitization.
The immune system attacks its own unprocessed toxic load and a pattern of chronic allergies may develop. An over-burdened immune system ultimately becomes hypersensitive and allergic to food, airborne agents and chemicals.
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