Living with Allergies

Imagine having a cold all the time…that’s allergies to some people. Sneezing constantly, runny nose that is like a dripping faucet, red irritated skin under the nose, cloudy thinking, congestion, sinus pressure, headaches, itchy eyes, watery eyes, and the list goes on. What causes these annoying symptoms is different for everyone. For some it’s just seasonal due to pollen, grass, ragweed, or flowers. Some people have allergies to animals like dogs and cats. Others have to watch every little thing they eat because of peanut or dairy allergies. Allergies come in all forms and sizes.

I have allergies to aspirin, codeine, augmenton, mold, dust, grass, cat, dog, scented things, and something that’s in food which still eludes me. My allergies are year round. My nickname in college was Stuffy because my allergies were so bad; they partially defined who I was. The person you could always count on to have a tissue if you needed one. I remember in middle school wanting my nose to be filled with cement, I didn’t care if I couldn’t smell, breathe, or ever use my nose again; I wanted my allergies gone.

When I talk to people on the phone that I have never met before they usually ask if I have a cold, sometimes I just play along and say yes because I don’t want to have to get into why I sound like this with them and hear about antihistamines. Other times I explain that it’s just allergies. The way I feel when I have a bad allergy attack is basically the same as a cold. I’m miserable. Sometimes I try to just wait it out for hours feeling horrible: unable to be social, productive, or focus on anything. Other times I resort to pills when I really don’t want to take them. I’ll take a Benadryl, antihistamine, decongestant, or afrin nose spray. This is when I’m desperate to feel better.

First, I usually try natural remedies to alleviate my symptoms. I try drinking lots of water, exercising, giving my sinuses a massage, or taking natural supplements. Natural things that sometimes work are: Sinatrol, Adrisin, quercetin, or zypan. For the past year or so I’ve tried to make small changes to be healthier: eat more organic fruits and veggies, try to take less medication, exercise more, lose weight, etc. I was surprisingly successful at eliminating my daily antihistamine about eight months ago. The first month or two off of it were absolutely miserable, but now I feel the same if not better off of it. This was a shock to me because I thought that I would have to be on it for the rest of my life. Next up I’m going to try to get off of my asthma medication and nose spray.

Allergies to me are the body’s way of saying “Hey, stop putting that in me or around me I don’t like it.” Unfortunately it isn’t always easy to listen to the body. Some allergy attacks, actually most, are hours after eating something. If it’s something I just smelled, like a candle, it’s clear when I immediately start sneezing. Those types of allergies are easy to figure out. They are not so easy to avoid as there are scents everywhere and in everything! An average person has scented perfume or cologne, shampoo, conditioner, hair product, lip balm, makeup, toothpaste, mouthwash, gum, and fabric detergent. This is horrible for people with allergies! It’s an assault on the nose! I can’t smell so I’m not bombarded with all of these scents which is nice, but it’s annoying when my allergies go off and I can’t tell if it’s due to something scented because I can’t smell it. There are too many chemical fake scent concoctions on the market today. Whatever happened to natural scents? Because there are actual flowers or cookies baking, not some fake chemical mixture that makes you think they are there but actually aren’t. I’d prefer the real thing if I had a sense of smell and no allergies to scents.

My tricky allergies come from food. I’ve had allergy testing done numerous times at my allergist’s office. Food allergies surprisingly never come back positive for me. I think many people are suffering from a sensitivity or intolerance to things rather than an allergy. It just is unfortunate that those are not as easy to get to the bottom of even though the reaction is very similar. My reactions to food are never the throat closing up type thank goodness. That is a very severe reaction. My reactions are usually a few hours after and have the same symptoms that I talked about earlier. They last for hours. Usually for the rest of that day I’m just off and don’t feel the best. I have tried doing various diets, eliminating certain foods (so far the ultra clear diet has been the most successful for me, it is just ridiculously restrictive), and keeping a log. It’s just never clear. Sometimes I eat something and I’m fine and another time I react. So then I start thinking about hormone levels, weather, and other factors. I’m still not to the bottom of this mystery but I’m not going to give up.

I’ve tried various allergy options. I’ve going to a typical allergist, a chiropractor, an acupuncture therapist, an ear nose and throat Dr., muscle testing…you name it, I’ve tried it. I’ve even tried cayenne pepper nose spray…not my favorite for obvious reasons. That burned like no other. But I was desperate. I heard some talk about it and tried it. I’ve done nasal rinses. I’ve been on terrible steroid drugs that made me eat ridiculous amounts of food, gain weight, and start getting another batch of symptoms just from the drugs. I stopped those somehow and feel so much better off of them. I almost feel like some medications make you sicker. They fix one problem only to cause 3 more. I just want a fix to my allergy problems and not have to create more issues.

So far my findings aren’t complete. I wish I cured my allergies but I haven’t. This is a work in progress. What I have found that works for me is losing weight (I’ve lose about 50 lbs), eating cleaner (think no labels: just fruits, veggies, meat, and nuts), exercising every day, avoiding allergens as much as possible, nasal rinses, getting off of my antihistamines (this is torture to go through, literally, my entire body itched for at least a month, but it was worth it), and using natural products from Whole Foods when I do have a flair up. Everyone is different, with different allergies and remedies. I truly hope if you have allergies you find a natural way to eliminate them that works for you.

Health | Medicine

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