Inhalant Allergy - hay fever, house dust mite, animal dander etc

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These usually present with problems in the airways - rhinitis, sinusitis, itchy palate and/or throat, or asthma with cough, wheeze and shortness of breath. Contact sensitivity in the eyes causes conjunctivitis and on the skin, eczema. But allergy is the great mimic - any allergen can produce any symptom!

Diagnosis of inhalant allergy

This is best done by taking a careful clinical history.

Reactions to inhalants are usually type I allergies which are relatively easy to test for. Please see Wikipedia webpage on Type I sensitivities You can easily do tests at home simply by rubbing the suspect antigen, eg horse hair into the skin. Blood tests can be done as can skin tests, but these are not totally reliable. That is because the skin reacts differently compared to the airways which again react differently compared to the gut. Furthermore there are lots of different danders with different breeds - it is possible to react to one dog but not another. Furthermore people may react differently to saliva or urine. It is not uncommon for people working with laboratory animals to sensitise to rat urine.

The best test for mould allergy is a holiday in a hot dry or cold dry climate - eg above 3,000 feet where the air is too thin to support moulds.

Tests are a guide, but the clinical history is the most critical aspect.

Timing of symptoms

Broadly speaking, symptoms worse in:

  • Winter suggest house dust mite allergy.
  • Spring suggest tree pollen
  • Last week of May to the first two weeks of July suggest grass pollen
  • August to the autumn suggest moulds.

Hay fever

The classic example of inhalant allergy is hay fever - this may cause itchy conjunctivitis (the white of the eye may have a cobblestone appearance) with redness and watering. In the nose there is rhinitis with thin clear secretions and sneezing. There may also be blockage and loss of the sense of smell with sinusitis. Pollen in the nose, mouth and throat may cause itching, and in the lungs, asthma.

These effects are all mediated by the release of histamine. Conventional treatment of hay fever is about symptoms suppression with antihistamines (block the effect of histamine), sodium cromoglycate (stabilises the allergy cells) and steroid sprays or tablets (these turn off all immune reactions good and bad).

The environmental approach

This is about desensitisation and avoidance.

Desensitisation

EPD: My preference is to desensitise and I use enzyme potentiated desensitisation (EPD). This has been proven in many trials to be effective in treating hay fever. Only one injection is needed before the season starts (no later than 1st May) and because EPD is in the homeopathic range there are virtually no side effects.

Please see Enzyme Potentiated Desensitisation (EPD)

Neutralisation also works well. Ideally the concentration of vaccine should be worked out before the season begins but neutralisation can be used to turn off symptoms during the season - in this respect it is superior to EPD. Please see Neutralisation

For allergies which are perennial, I also use EPD, but injections need to be given regularly - the gap between injections runs: 6-8 weeks; 2 months; 2 months; 3 months; 3 months; 4 months; then play it by ear.

Avoidance

This is most important for house dust mite sensitivity - see Housedust and Mites.

A dry climate often brings relief from house dust mite and mould sensitivity.

For a list of practitioners offering desensitisation, see the practitioners list under fatigue, or see Practitioners of Ecological Medicine.

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