“Total Allergic load” - an important concept in allergy treatment
Many people are allergic to dust and dust mites, pollens, mold, and animal dander. These allergens are invisible particles that float through the air, and they have to be inhaled to cause allergy symptoms.
Many allergy sufferers make the mistake of assuming that there is no point in trying to avoid the allergens if you can’t avoid all of them, all the time. However, airborne and food allergens are a problem that is cumulative. Your immune system is like a bucket, which starts filling up when it takes in allergens. Symptoms won’t appear until the bucket has filled up completely and starts overflowing. That is when the misery sets in.
Outdoor allergens change with the seasons and add to the indoor and food allergens that cause your bucket to fill up and overflow. Tree allergens are highest during the spring season, grass during the summer, and weed allergens during the fall. This explains why you may suffer more greatly from allergies during a specific time of year. For example, a person with severe ragweed allergies will be most strongly affected by allergy symptoms during the late summer and fall seasons. They may also find foods like melons bother them in the ragweed season. A person with tree allergies will get symptoms in the spring when tree allergen levels rise, causing his or her bucket to overflow. However, indoor allergens such as dust and pet allergens are present all year long. Avoidance or reduction of one of these indoor allergens may prevent your bucket from overflowing during your worst allergy seasons.
There are many preventative ways to deal with this problem. High on the list are various environmental controls which help you to keep away from enough allergens so that overflow is avoided. Successful avoidance can keep your bucket from overflowing, whether you’re allergic to just one or several different substances.
Pet Allergies: Animals naturally produce harmless proteins, but people with supersensitive immune systems treat them as foreign invaders and react, thus creating an allergy.
Dust Allergies: Dust is mainly made up of dead skin cells, but can also contain other allergens, such as pollen, pet dander, food crumbs, and dust mites.
Weed/Mold Allergies: Humidity control inside the house is an important part of keeping an allergen-free home.
Anaphylaxis: Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition in which a person suffers from a severe allergic reaction. Unlike most allergic reactions, anaphylaxis is a full-body reaction to allergens and should be treated as a medical emergency.
Recommended Environmental Controls
Recommended Environmental Controls: Simple ways of reducing allergens in the home include using HEPA air purifiers, vent filters, mattress and pillow encasings, frequent washing of sheets and curtains, etc.
Another important part of allergy treatment is immunotherapy (allergy shots or drops). When you get an allergy shot or drop, you are administered a small amount of allergens that you are allergic to. By doing this routinely, your body's immune system gradually reacts less and less severely to the same allergens. In other words, you build a tolerance for the things your allergic to. Receiving allergy shots is like making your bucket bigger so that it can hold more allergens before it overflows. This helps to reduce the severity and frequency of allergy symptoms. However, allergy shots (especially early on) may not completely eliminate the possibility of symptoms. Even the largest buckets can be overwhelmed by high exposures!
Are Allergy Drops Under the Tongue an Alternative to Shots?
A recent update was published to the landmark Cochrane review in 2003 which showed that sublingual immunotherapy (drops under the tongue) for allergies was safe and effective. In that study, 22 randomized controlled studies were reviewed and compiled. In February, 2011 that review was updated to include 38 new trials. So, now we have 60 studies totaling 4,589 patients. The study confirms that patients treated with sublingual drops experience a significant reduction in allergic symptoms and medication requirements. This was especially true for individuals suffering from seasonal allergies. The review also includes data from 15 studies in children involving 1392 participants. These pediatric studies showed that children see similar benefits to adults from sublingual therapy. The study showed no serious reactions, anaphylaxis, or fatalities - confirming the safety of sublingual drops for home-based therapy. So, in summary, there is plenty of evidence that allergy drops administered at home work equally well to allergy shots with less risk of adverse reactions. Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery Volume 144 Number 2 pages 149-153.