It’s estimated that around 40 per cent of people suffer from some type of allergy – some serious and some not so serious. It can be hard to determine why and when some allergies are triggered and who is most at risk, but luckily, management and prevention can be fuss-free.
The immune system is what controls the body’s defence mechanisms and helps to battle dangerous foreign invaders – particularly illness and infection. The body’s job is recognise and react to dangerous foreign substances – these are known as antigens. However, the human body is exposed to millions of antigens a day and the body doesn’t necessarily react adversely to all of them.
Put quite simply, the immune system acts to destroy any foreign body that it sees as threatening. The most simple and common way it does this is by creating antibodies to specifically combat particular strains of substances. Normally, people develop certain agents that attach themselves to the foreign bodies and make it easier for cells to kill the antigen, in people with specific allergies though; the body creates these protein molecules in defence of normally harmless substances. Through learned responses and continued exposure, the body builds up a pattern and continued allergic reactions to the same substance.
Each person’s body is different and the extent to which certain chemicals in the body are triggered following exposure to an allergy-prompting substance, dictates how severe the body’s response will be. The eyes, nose, lungs, skin and stomach are the most common parts of the body through which allergic reactions are manifested and is hence why the most common allergic responses are observed through itchy eyes, a runny nose, a rash or hives, vomiting/cramping and sometimes even breathing restrictions.
So what are allergens?
They can be varied and diverse – from plants, animal proteins, dust, mould, insects – almost anything! Sometimes they’ll be floating through the air, sometimes it’s what we eat that triggers a response, or perhaps just something we’ve come into contact with. Common responses and allergens include pollen (hay fever), asthma (breathing problems) and nut allergies.
Treatment has traditionally included some form of medication and while these can be effective in extreme cases, building up the body’s natural defences is extremely important. Of increasingly valuable significance is the importance of gut health to the overall functioning of the body. Particular strains of probiotics can help to achieve a better balance in the microbiome which can regulate the immune system’s response to allergens. Whilst this is not necessarily a strictly chiropractic approach, chiropractors have long recognised this importance which has only recently been acknowledged by modern medical doctors. The help of an appropriate naturopath may be recommended also.
In addition, regular chiropractic care boots the body’s nervous system which has recently been more definitively linked to immune system function and helps control immune defences and the strength and stability of body functions. Continued care, coupled with a healthy diet and regular exercise promotes optimum well-being and long-term good health for yourself and your family.
If you have any questions, concerns or would like to discuss allergy management with Dr Goran, please do not hesitate to ask at your next appointment.