Tree pollen season is in full bloom, as anyone with allergies can tell you, and it hits Houston pretty hard. Around this time last year, we had the dubious honor of being ranked #1 in the country for the highest pollen counts!
Although springtime is often referred to as allergy season, almost every season is allergy season in Houston. After tree pollen counts peak in the spring, grass pollens come into their own through the summer, followed by ragweed and other weed pollens beginning in September. And thanks to our high humidity, we are exposed to relatively high levels of molds, which also provoke allergic symptoms.
The Burden of Allergies
Allergies are nothing to sneeze at. In addition to a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion and sneezing, allergies may lead to throat and ear infections, sinusitis, bronchitis, and headaches. Allergies also trigger asthma flare-ups, depress your immune system, and reduce your resistance to colds and other viral infections.
Airborne allergies are often accompanied by food allergies or sensitivities, which can cause the same symptoms as inhaled allergens, not to mention digestive disorders, imbalances in intestinal bacteria and yeast overgrowth.
An estimated 40% of Americans have an allergic disorder, and 20% have allergies bad enough to undergo allergy immunization treatment. Yet far too many suffer in silence. If you are one of them, I want to reassure you that there are answers to this quite common problem.
The Hotze Health & Wellness Center was established in 1989 as an allergy practice. We have been a leader in the treatment of allergies for over 30 years, and I have served as President of the Pan American Allergy Society. Over the years we have grown and expanded our outreach, but allergy treatment remains a core focus.
Low Allergen Immunotherapy (LDI)
We have been offering immunotherapy to our guests who have allergies for 25 years. Initially we used allergy shots. They were the only thing available back then, and many doctors still use them. However, in 1996 we were early adopters of sublingual (under the tongue) immunotherapy drops. Sublingual drops work as well as allergy shots but eliminate the pain and inconvenience of injections.
Although most of our guests have done remarkably well on this protocol, we are always on the lookout for breakthrough treatments, and we found one in low dose immunotherapy (LDI). Our allergy specialist, Ronald Parker, P.A., calls LDI the most effective treatment he has seen in three decades of allergy testing and treatment.
LDI has quickly emerged as the star player in our allergy treatment program for these reasons:
- Desensitizes against over 300 allergens, including inhalants, foods and chemicals.
- Easy and effective, with sublingual dosing once every 7–10 weeks and potential resolution of allergies after a couple of years.
- Painless (no injections!) and safe for all ages, including young children.
- Convenient, requiring an initial office visit with phone follow-ups and delivery of refills directly to your home.
- More cost effective over the long run.
The Nutritional Approach
We also recommend a number of nutritional therapies that help with allergies. As noted above, food allergies can both mimic and exacerbate symptoms of airborne allergies. Identifying and avoiding problematic foods can make a big difference.
Several nutritional supplements also help tame the allergic response and/or address symptoms. They include:
- Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine that helps reduce the amount of histamine released in response to exposure to an allergen. Histamine kicks off the inflammation, mucus production, blood vessel dilation, etc., that result in sneezing, itching and nasal symptoms. I recommend 1,000 mg of vitamin C per 25 pounds of body weight, taken in divided doses. Back off if you get loose stools.
- Vitamin D3 plays an important role in the immune system, and deficiencies, which are quite common, have been linked with allergies. Take enough vitamin D3 to maintain a blood level of 50–80 ng/mL. For many of our guests, this requires 5,000–10,000 IU per day.
- Probiotics help restore a robust, diverse microbiota, which supports not only gastrointestinal health but also your respiratory and immune systems. Look for a high-quality product with a blend of beneficial bacteria and at least 40 billion CFU.
- Xlear Nasal Spray cleanses your nasal passages and sinus cavities and washes out allergens. Another plus is that it contains xylitol, which has antibacterial activity. Saline nasal sprays or rinses with a neti pot or nasal irrigation bottle also help remove pollen and other allergens.
Minimize Exposure to Allergens
It goes without saying that you should do your best to avoid or at least minimize exposure to allergens. Easier said than done, I know—especially in an area like Houston that often has high pollen and mold counts. If pollen is your trigger, try to stay indoors early in the morning and at dusk when pollen counts are highest, and keep your windows closed during these times.
Be aware that indoor air may contain more allergens than outdoor air. Take care to not track pollen in on your shoes and clothes. Brush or wipe your dog’s down before letting them in, as pollen easily collects on their fur. Wash bedding often, and clean surfaces and floors with a damp cloth or mop. Use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter, which picks up the tiniest airborne particles. Also, consider using a HEPA filter air purifier in the rooms where you spend the most time.
Whether you have been diagnosed with allergies and are looking for a real solution, or you have unexplained symptoms that could be allergy-related, I urge you to learn more about LDI and our other allergy treatments.
Have a blessed spring!
To schedule a Free Wellness Consultation—via telemedicine or at the Hotze Health & Wellness Center—call us at 281-698-8698 or visit hotzehwc.com. To learn more about supplements that help with allergies, call Hotze Vitamins at 281-646-1659.
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