Every spring people with seasonal allergies to pollen and other allergens have to make a choice – either take an anti-histamine and enjoy the outdoors, or sit indoors watching others bask in the glory of the beautiful weather that has recently arrived. Well, I’d like to add a new option for all the chronic seasonal allergy sufferers out there – get rid of the fungus that is making your allergies more severe.
What Nose Fungus Has to Do With Your Allergies
People who suffer from chronic sinusitis and those who don’t, but an importance difference has recently been found. People who suffer from Chronic Rhinosinusitis are HYPERSENSITIVE to the fungus. This means that allergy sufferers tend to have a stronger response to the presence of fungi that is present in their mucus.
In hypersensitive people, one type of white blood cell (called an Eosinophil) tends to react more strongly to the presence of fungi in the sinuses after acute reactions to pollen and other allergens. These Eosinophils release granules that are highly toxic to the fungi, but are also toxic to the top layer of our cells (epithelium) on the sinus walls. Studies conducted at the Mayo Clinic have shown that patients with chronic sinusitis showed exaggerated responses to common airborne fungi, like Alternaria and Alternata, but healthy people have no response to these same fungi.
2 Important Questions to Ask Are…
“What is causing my white blood cells to be hypersensitive?” and “What other sources of allergic triggers am I exposed to?”
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There are many sources of hypersensitivity reactions from our immune systems. Breathing air through our airways is just one path for potential allergens to enter our bodies. The food and drinks that enter our gut are also potential sources of hypersensitivity. If you are eating foods that you have sensitivity to, your immune system will constantly be on high alert and could be a cause of hypersensitivity, even in your sinuses.
It is important to note that a food sensitivity is different from a food allergy, as an allergy causes a fast-acting, localized reaction (for example, a peanut allergy) while a sensitivity causes a delayed-onset, prolonged, diffuse reaction (for example, a gluten sensitivity). These reactions are triggered by different types of antibodies released by our white blood cells. Chronic sinusitis could very well be caused by hypersensitive white blood cells reacting to fungi, after being exposed to a trigger in the gut.
So what can allergy sufferers do for their chronic sinus inflammation?
1. Breathe In Through Your Nose
People who inhale through their nose tend to have decreased risk of sinusitis or allergic triggers. This is due to the hairs in our noses that filter out the air, blocking potential allergens from entering our airways and sinuses.
2. Identify Allergic and Sensitivity Triggers
Using an elimination diet can help to stop food triggers from putting your immune system on high alert. Eliminate foods that have a higher risk of sensitivity such as gluten, fermented cheeses, chocolate and beer. An elimination diet should only be performed under supervision of your health care provider.
3. Allergy and Food Sensitivity Testing
Visit a Functional Medicine doctor to get IgG Food Sensitivity testing done. This can identify foods that you have specific sensitivities to and thus, should avoid or eliminate from your diet immediately.
4. Get a Comprehensive Stool Test Done
If you have been prescribed antibiotics in the past for issues relating to your sinuses, you may have a disproportionate balance of gut bacteria remaining. Stool testing can determine if you need to take a probiotic to help heal your gut and help with digestion of meals.
Kita, H. (2015, June 9). Mechanisms of Chronic Rhinosinusitis. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic Research: http://www.mayo.edu/research/labs/allergic-diseases/mechanisms-chronic-rhinosinusitis
Myers, A. (2015, 06 09). Cure Your Seasonal Allergies Naturally. Retrieved from Amy Myers MD: www.amymyersmd.com/2015/04/cure-your-seasonal-allergies-naturally/
Ponikau, J. e. (2000). Role of Fungi in Allergic Fungal Sinusitis and Chronic Rhinosinusitis. Mayo ClinProc, Vol 75.
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