Allergies have become a major health concern over the past decade with the number of individuals suffering allergies or sensitivities reaching crisis levels. Australia has one of the highest levels of both adult and childhood allergy rates in the world.

An allergy occurs when the immune system initiates an inflammatory response to an allergen that may not necessarily be harmful in other individuals. Allergens may be contained in foods, they may be synthetic products such as perfume or cleaning agents or they can be present in our surrounding environment such as pollens, mould or smoke.

Identifying the severity of the allergy or intolerance is important in the management of these conditions. Reactions can range from severe and life threatening to mild, they can present as an immediate reaction or as a delayed onset reaction.

Numerous factors can trigger or predispose individuals to allergies or intolerances including bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, genetic predisposition, environmental changes and stress. Some studies suggest that the changed nature of our food chain with the inclusion of preservatives, additives, artificial flavours and colourings, genetically modified foods and significantly changed farming practices have led to increased food allergies and intolerances.

The symptoms of food allergies and intolerances are so diverse that it can be difficult to initially identify the underlying cause of the symptoms. Symptoms can range from nasal congestion/hay fever, eczema, anxiety, headache, joint and muscle pain, poor concentration and fatigue to the more common gut disturbances of constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and cramps etc.

An allergic reaction can be life threatening in the case of anaphylactic reaction and many children and schools are now having to carry EpiPens due to the rise in serious allergy rates. An EpiPen contains epinephrine which causes the blood vessels to contract and dilates the airways to the lungs which rapidly narrow during anaphylactic shock.

Allergies are a complex condition which can implicate several systems in the body, the most common being the immune system, digestive system, integumentary system and the respiratory system.

If you suspect allergies or intolerances, there is testing that can be performed to determine the severity of the allergies or intolerances as well as the actual identity of the allergen itself. A Naturopath can order testing, analyse and interpret the results and produce a treatment or management plan tailored to the individual.

Keeping a whole food diet and avoiding allergenic foods can be helpful. Specific nutrients including the B vitamins, zinc, essential fatty acids and vitamin C are useful in modulating the immune-mediated inflammatory response. Some herbal medicines are particularly helpful in down-regulating the allergic response, inhibiting the release of histamine and balancing the function of the immune system.

If you or your child is suffering from symptoms associated with allergies or intolerances/sensitivities, book an appointment with our qualified Naturopath, Belle. Bookings can be made by phoning 8406 0679 or 0405 128 213 or emailing belle@nbip.com.au

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