In 1906, “allergy” was first defined as an “altered reaction” to a substance, meaning a reaction that most people did not get. Later, four types of classical allergy were described with specific immune system involvements: Type I- Immediate, Type II-Cytotoxic, Type III- Immune Complex, and Type IV-Delayed. Although these four categories are still used today, expanding our definition of allergy to include “hypersensitivity” explains many altered reactions that are not caused by the four classical types.
A person can be hypersensitive to many different substances…including mother’s milk in which case a formula must be substituted. Foods (any food), grasses, trees, molds, dust, animals, insects, fragrances, solvents, and pesticides can all cause hypersensitivity reactions. Exposure to even minute amounts of these substances can wreak havoc with your health. Headaches, sinus problems, rashes, abdominal bloating, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, and memory loss can all be the result of your body’s abnormal response to a chemical or another substance in your environment.
How can you tell if your symptoms are caused by hypersensitivity? A diary is a good place to start. Record your symptoms, then determine what you just ate, smelled, or touched. Do your eyes burn and get watery or itchy during Spring or Fall pollen season? Do you get headaches every time you’re near someone wearing perfume? Does your belly bloat after eating milk products? Do you get tired after washing your dishes. Do you get short of breath when you walk into a particular building, maybe one that had water damage? These are all hypersensitivity reactions caused by something in your environment.
Several approaches can lead to a reduction in your symptoms. Avoidance of the offending substance is the first step. Wear a mask and limit outdoor time during pollen season, avoid anyone wearing perfume, take the problematic food out of your diet, have your building tested and remediated for mold contamination.
Medications may also be used, but are not a substitute for avoidance or desensitization treatments. Taking symptom-suppressing medicines without identifying your specific hypersensitivities may not resolve all of your complaints.
An Environmental Physician can assess areas of hypersensitivity and develop a treatment program for you. Skin testing helps identify specific substances causing distress and can allow an allergy desensitization treatment to be developed for you. Measurements of solvents and pesticides in your body can give clues to your symptoms and can be cleared by specialized treatments.
For a list of qualified environmental physicians in your area contact the American Academy of Environmental Medicine at www.AAEMonline.com
On another note:
“Passion and Poison – The Vindication of Vincent Van Gogh” is a documentary film project that I am currently involved with as Head Researcher. Through re-enactments and sound medical science, I have discovered the environmental reasons for Van Gogh’s erratic behavior. He wasn’t crazy, and I can prove it. For more information go to our website www.passionandpoison.com