The September 20, 2012 segment of NBC Nightly news entitled, “Sniffling in September: Will Allergy Season Ever End?” stuck a chord. This time of year it’s common for me to hear people complaining about seasonal allergies, but this year was different and this news story confirmed it. It turns out more people are suffering from seasonal allergies this fall than ever before.
According to the report, 1 million Americans who have never suffered from seasonal allergies before are experiencing symptoms, from infants to the elderly. Everything from hot and dry weather, wildfires and global warming are being blamed.
NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman admits the standard medications, inhalers, and shots may not be the best treatment options. She goes on to list some simple tips for relief, including cleaning your eye-glasses frequently and bathing the family pet. She also offers a grim prognosis for relief, stating allergies and all their symptoms will continue until colder temperatures hit, and predicts two unseasonably warm months and prolonged suffering for those with allergies.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. Many of my practice members at Healing Touch Chiropractic find that regular chiropractic adjustments can help reduce the severity and frequency of seasonal allergy symptoms.
How can this be? First, it’s important to understand that chiropractic does not work like an anti-histamine; as a direct, short term relief from allergies. Chiropractic helps relieve the symptoms and discomfort associated with seasonal allergies by allowing the body to better respond and fight allergic reactions.
Here’s how it works…An immune system reaction is triggered by an allergen (substances that normally have no effect on people) resulting in the obvious symptoms like sneezing, congestion, coughing, and scratchy and watery eyes (some allergies can cause other discomfort in the form of hives, rashes, and in severe cases, seizure and anaphylactic shock). These symptoms are caused by the histamines your immune system creates in an attempt to protect your body against the allergen. It’s a natural and protective response as long as your immunity is high and your body is functioning optimally.
Now, if your spine is misaligned it can interfere with your nervous system. The nervous system controls every function, organ and cell of the body, including immunity. When your nervous system is under stress and not functioning properly, your immune system cannot work at an optimal level and allergens become a problem.
As a Chiropractor, I work with the nervous system by aligning the spine to relieve any stress on nerves that may be affecting how your body functions. Making these corrections to the alignment of the vertebrae of the spine allows the immune system to work at a higher level, making it easier to fight off infections while recognizing allergens. When your immune system recognizes allergens, it will not overreact to them (or at least not react as severely).
Traditional allergy treatments only deal with the symptoms of seasonal allergies, without addressing the cause. Anyone who has taken allergy medication knows that it will work for a period of time and then its effect will gradually begin to decrease. Chiropractic on the other hand, relieves the underlying cause of allergies, without drugs and side-effects (like foggy thinking and drowsiness).
When an allergy sufferer asks me if chiropractic can really bring them relief I ask them this question: “What’s different about the air you breathe that causes you to have symptoms while others, who breathe the same air, do not?”
That gets them thinking because for the most part we all breathe the same air, which contains the same pollens and allergens. It’s how the body and our nervous system respond to these allergens that produces symptoms, or not.
As Dr. Snyderman states at the end of the Nightly News story, “…our immune systems are turning on like they never have been before because our environment has become so much more complex.” If you suffer from allergies, an immune system tune-up may be all you need and chiropractic may offer you the relief you seek.