In a recent CME (continuing medical education) course we were given clinical practice guidelines to treat allergic rhinitis (AE) AKA hayfever. AR is defined as an inflammatory response of the nasal mucous membranes after inhaling an allergen, such as grass pollen, dust mites, or pet dander, which can trigger symptoms that can include runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, and itching.
The guidelines for treatment of AR don’t even bother to remind doctors to ask about allergen exposure and how to eliminate them but cut right to the chase and say the first line of treatment is steroid medication sprayed into your nasal passages. The next step in treatment is antihistamine pills.
It turns out that AR is extremely common – the 5th most common chronic disease in the US affecting 1 in 6 Americans. It is the most common disease in children. Medical costs of the condition run from $2-$5 billion – half of that amount goes to prescription drugs.
Here’s my take on hayfever. Our nasal mucus membranes, including nasal hair protect us from things we inhale so that they don’t irritate us. Three things can go wrong – we are in an environment with a lot of pollen, dust and dander or our nasal mucus membranes are dried out or already irritated and thus susceptible to inhaled allergens.
To deal with the first problem – use air cleaners during pollen season, vacuum more often and put the pets outside. The second problem, dried out mucus membranes, occurs in the winter when the heat is on, or in terribly hot and dry climates like parts of Arizona. My free Module on Nasal Lubrication in my Completement Now Online Wellness program will tell you how to overcome this problem. (Use the password – nose – to access in The Members Only Area.
The third problem, I call Leaky Nose that may go along with a Leaky Gut because yeast (Candida, fungal) organisms are irritating the mucus membranes of the nose and the gut. When the nasal passages are involved they make you susceptible to tobacco smoke, the cleaning products aisle of the grocery store, perfumes as well as pollen, dust and dander.
The unfortunate thing about treating hayfever with steroid sprays is that they encourage yeast overgrowth. And one commonly used spray, Nasacort, has an extra fluoride atom attached, which may create magnesium deficiency because fluoride binds to magnesium making it unavailable. Another nasal spray, Flonase, has 3 fluoride atoms.
When the mucus of allergic rhinitis builds up, it can block the sinuses and lead to sinusitis. The two conditions are commonly linked. When you have symptoms of sinusitis you usually end up on antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off good and bad bacteria allowing yeast to overgrow. But here is a real zinger that many of you may not know: According to the Mayo Clinic “most chronic sinus infections may be caused by an immune system response to fungi.” They say that “Our original study linking chronic rhinosinusitis to fungi in the nose, which was published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings in September 1999, has been reproduced and confirmed by a sinus center in Europe (ENT University Hospital in Graz, Austria). The evidence was so convincing that the National Institute of Health (NIH) has given Mayo Clinic a $2.5 million grant to further investigate the mechanisms behind this immunologic response to the fungi. There are currently 16 studies at Mayo Clinic Rochester to further investigate the role of fungi in inflammatory diseases of the respiratory tract.”
It’s been over 15 years since the first study and, I guarantee that most doctors don’t have a clue that nasal and sinus symptoms are fungal-related. What do you do in the meantime? Go on a yeast free diet – Paleo is the closest. Take a good probiotic – Prescript Assist is the best. Eat antifungal foods – garlic, onions; drink pau d’arco antifungal tea. Take the Total Body ReSet formulas: ReAline to help detox yeast; ReMag for inflammation and much more; ReMyte for the immune system; and RnA Drops. We’ve had many testimonials where people eliminated their allergies when they began this approach.
Carolyn Dean MD ND
The Doctor of the Future™
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