Allergies: Worst in Years

An Associated Press article on April 10 reports that allergies this Spring are worse than they’ve been in many years. This is being attributed, especially in the Southeast, to the unseasonably cold weather this winter, in addition to an especially wet winter in other parts of the country. The cold delayed the gradual blooming of the trees, so that now there’s a massive release of pollen all at once. In addition to the increased pollen in the air, the allergy season is expected to last longer than it normally does. April is typically the heaviest month for tree pollen allergy, but this year it appears that May might also be just as miserable for hay fever sufferers.

Although I live in Colorado, far from the southeastern states, I was shocked this past weekend when I experienced several allergy attacks – sneezing, itching, dripping, and congestion. This is the first time I can remember ever having allergy symptoms in April. In fact, for most of my adult life I’ve been relatively free of any allergies. As a young boy, I had severe ragweed allergy in late Aug/Sept; and in recent years, brief episodes of grass pollen allergy, usually in mid-June. But since I developed the Sinus Survival Allergy Treatment Program, the symptoms have been either minimal or have been totally prevented. Unfortunately when my allergy symptoms began this weekend, I was far from home and unprepared. Now that I’ve returned, I’ve started using the entire Sinus Survival Allergy Support Kit, in addition to Sinusin Spray (a homeopathic nasal spray) and have had no nasal allergy symptoms. If you or anyone else in your family has hay fever or pollen allergy, or even a history of having had it, I’d suggest you be well prepared for this Spring and Summer. It’s beginning to look like we’re in for a severe sneezin’ season.

The Sneezin’ Season

For those of you who dread the spring because you spend much of your time with a drippy, stuffed up, sneezing and itchy nose; or you just feel tired and irritable from either the allergies themselves or the antihistamine you’re taking to eliminate the nasal symptoms; I have good news for you.

Sinus Survival has recently added a new addition to their product line –Allercide for adults and Allercide Jr. for children – that will help considerably to relieve your allergy symptoms. Formerly sold as Natural D-Hist or D-Hist Jr., each product has the same ingredients but in different dosages. Stinging Nettles Leaf and Quercetin are both natural anti-histamines, and Vitamin C and N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine help to reduce inflammation of the mucous membrane.

April and May are the heavy tree pollen months while May and June are the peak season for grass pollen. The ragweed season is typically at the end of summer during the months of August and September. If you start taking the Allercide at the very beginning of the season, or with the first allergy symptom, you will probably have a much more enjoyable spring than you’ve had in many years.

March Madness of the Mucous Membranes

Having lived in Denver for almost 40 years I’m well aware of the extreme dryness of the air in the Mile-High City. There are some who have even referred to this city as the “nose-picking capital of the world.” However, during the winter months it isn’t just Denver that suffers from dry air. By the month of March, almost everyone north of the southernmost states has had the heat turned on in their homes and has been breathing relatively dry air for nearly six months”…creating ideal conditions for sinus infections.”

I’ve noticed for the past several years there seems to be a trend with sinus suffering reaching a peak by March. There are more requests for help on the website: sinussurvival.com, and my practice is busier. What’s happening is that the degree of inflammation of the mucous membrane is worse than it’s been all winter. Most of us spend nearly all of our time indoors (or in heated cars) in the winter, which can wreak havoc with an already inflamed mucous membrane.

This is the time of year when we can most appreciate the benefits of moisture for our nose and sinuses. A warm mist humidifier in the bedroom and in your office (if it’s an enclosed space) can make quite a difference. Remember to keep the temperature in the room between 65 and 68 degrees. The higher the temperature the drier the air, but if you go much below 65, then the colder temperature is also irritating to the mucous membrane.

Perhaps the most effective way to keep the membranes moist throughout the day is to use the Sinus Survival Spray every couple of hours. In addition to saline, it contains three anti-inflammatory herbs: aloe vera, calendula, and yarrow leaf, that help to soothe the membranes and reduce inflammation. I also suggest swabbing the outside of your nostrils with a very small amount of peppermint oil immediately following the spray. The Sinus Survival Eucalyptus Oil is also highly anti-inflammatory and can be inhaled by spraying it on a tissue, or by spraying it into a Steam Inhaler (any brand) along with a drop or two of peppermint oil (any brand is OK). Following the steamer (for 15 to 20 minutes, 3x/day), I’d suggest irrigation with the SinuPulse. Although this is the most effective way to irrigate, if you have another irrigating device, then use it. Don’t forget to drink lots of water (at least ½ ounce per pound of body weight). If you follow these recommendations on a daily basis, you’ll go a long way towards preventing March madness of the mucous membrane.

Gluten Sensitivity

Dr. Ivker: I’ve read your info for many years. I’ve recently been diagnosed with gluten-intolerance and right after that was tested for vitamin D levels, which were very low. After changing my diet and taking more Vit D, I slowly noticed my immune system getting stronger, even in the winter. I think this gluten issue should be discussed with more patients. Thanks.
Nancy H.

Gluten sensitivity is in fact a very common but often overlooked problem. What is gluten? In short, it is the glue or the protein that gives dough its elasticity, allows leavening, and contributes chewiness to baked products like bagels. Gluten is found in wheat, seminola, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, triticale, oats and many wheat starch products, such as binders in prescription drugs as well as supplements. Even some baking powder has wheat starch. It comprises about 80% of the protein contained in wheat seed and is an important source of nutritional protein worldwide.

Gluten sensitivity has long been known as the cause of celiac disease. Although frank celiac disease is relatively uncommon, there is a remarkable association of gluten with virtually every known disease, including asthma, all autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and addictions. I’ve also suspected gluten sensitivity with many of my patients with chronic and fungal sinusitis.

The candida-control diet that I recommend for treating fungal sinusitis (found in Sinus Survival) is also a gluten-free diet. It’s not easy, but after closely adhering to it for a few weeks, the symptom improvement can often be dramatic.

THE OVERUSE OF ANTIBIOTICS

Since the early 1990s I’ve considered yeast or candida overgrowth, what’s now being called fungal sinusitis (since Mayo Clinic identified this condition in ’99), as a leading cause of moderate to severe chronic sinusitis. The primary reason for this…the overuse of antibiotics.

Most sinus infections begin with a cold virus. Antibiotics are not only worthless when treating a virus, but they cause harm by killing the body’s beneficial bacteria (often resulting in candida overgrowth) and causing a number of serious side-effects, sometimes life-threatening. According to a 2008 article in Clinical Infectious Diseases, more than 142,000 people are rushed to the emergency room each year from adverse reactions to antibiotics, and an estimated 70,000 of those cases may be a result of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions. Over 100,000 Americans die every year from prescription drugs, many of which are antibiotics. In fact, medical treatment is the third leading cause of death (250,000 per year) in the U.S., behind heart disease and cancer.

Children are more likely to suffer side effects such as diarrhea and abdominal pain from antibiotics. In addition, recent studies have repeatedly shown that antibiotics are not indicated for most ear infections and may also increase the likelihood of getting another ear infection.

If you believe, as do most sinus sufferers, that an antibiotic is necessary to stop a sinus infection, please read the following conclusion of a study that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in December 2007.

The study should lead to a “reconsideration of antibiotic use for acute sinusitis (sinus infection). The current view that antibiotics are effective can now be challenged, particularly for the routine cases which physicians treat,” said lead author Dr. Ian Williamson of the University of Southampton in England.

Challenges

By Dr. Rob Ivker

The body is a self-healing organism is one of healthcare’s most fundamental principles.  We’re always reminded of this fact with both illness and injury.  Long before you became a sinus sufferer, whenever you got a cold, no matter how severe, it was usually completely gone within a week.  And if you’ve ever had the misfortune of breaking a bone or had a severe sprain, the injured part was usually placed in a cast, splinted, braced, or you used crutches, and were instructed to not use it for several weeks (6 weeks if it’s a broken weight-bearing bone).  In most cases, the injury is completely healed after the recommended period of inactivity.

With chronic sinusitis, the primary physical dysfunction is an inflamed mucous membrane lining your nose and sinuses.  Your body does have the capacity to heal this congested, weeping, and painful tissue, but the challenge with which you’re confronted is that you can never put it at rest.  As long as you’re alive, you’re breathing about 20,000 times a day, with your nose and sinuses serving as your body’s air filter, humidifier, and temperature-regulator.

Knowing that your mucous membrane is always at work filtering, humidifying, and regulating the temperature of the air you breathe in order to protect the lungs, your next step in helping to heal it by reducing inflammation is to provide your nose and sinuses with clean, moist (between 35 and 55% relative humidity), and warm (between 65 and 85° F.) air.  In most homes, especially during the winter months, this too can be a challenge. Adding to the problem is the fact that the majority of the world’s cities are plagued with polluted air.  Your job is to breathe “healing” air, rather than irritating or inflaming air, to the best of your ability without having to move to a tropical island.

It is relatively easy with most parts of the skin to apply a medicinal cream or ointment to an inflamed or infected part in order to assist in the healing process.  However, the mucous membrane, which can be considered a specialized part of the skin providing the lining for the nose, sinuses, and lungs, is difficult to reach.  There are nasal sprays and emollients that can be applied to the nose, but steaming with essential oils and irrigation are required to directly benefit the sinuses.

A primary cause of most cases of moderate to severe chronic sinusitis, is some degree of fungal sinusitis, typically resulting from a candida/yeast overgrowth.  Treatment is directed at substantially reducing the number of candida organisms, but the major challenge is that candida is a normal inhabitant of the body and thrives on sugar.  Therefore, your objective is to maintain a normal level of candida while eating a somewhat restrictive candida-control diet.

These are all significant challenges confronting the sinus sufferer and help to explain why chronic sinusitis is the world’s most common respiratory condition.  It’s neither a simple nor an easy problem to treat.  Your body is capable of healing it, but it needs your help.

The Causes of Sinusitis

By Dr. Rob Ivker

Since this is my initial Sinus Survival Blog entry, I’ll cut right to the heart of the matter by telling you why this holistic approach to treating sinus problems, asthma, and allergies is so effective – it addresses all of the causes, in addition to treating symptoms.  In subsequent blogs, I’ll discuss a variety of different methods for treating, mitigating, or eliminating each of the causes for the growing epidemic of respiratory disease.

Sinusitis, either acute (sinus infections) or chronic (recurrent infections and long-term misery), has been the world’s most common respiratory condition for the past 30 years.  Why?  There are several reasons.  But unfortunately a key factor has been the inadequate therapeutic response of most members of the international medical community.  They have for the most part refused to broaden their perspective, while continuing to simply treat the symptoms and not the causes of this complex problem.

The job of the nose and sinuses is to protect the lungs, and they do so by serving as the body’s air filter, as well as the humidifier and temperature-regulator.  Since 1980, when I first made the commitment to cure my own chronic sinusitis, my belief has been that the modern-day plague of air pollution has been a primary cause of this global respiratory epidemic.

In most cases, a lifetime of sinus suffering begins with inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the nose and sinuses that never completely heals.  For the majority of sinus sufferers this inflammation persists as result of breathing polluted and dry air about 20,000 times a day for much of the year, but especially during the winter months.  The inflammation worsens with every cold, sinus infection, and allergy attack, and is often compounded by a gradually weakened immune system.  Major contributors to diminished immune function are the overuse of antibiotics, which in turn can lead to a yeast/candida overgrowth; and emotional stress, typically repressed anger and/or suppressed tears or grief.

Allergic fungal sinusitis, a condition first identified by the Mayo Clinic in 1999, is present to some degree in the vast majority of people with moderate to severe chronic sinusitis.  The more acute inflammation in these patients results from the release of massive amounts of toxins from the many millions of candida organisms. These sinus sufferers require an aggressive antifungal treatment program in order to overcome this highly challenging condition.

Sinus dis-ease, a multi-faceted condition, with several significant contributing factors, requires a whole-person (body-mind-spirit) approach to both cure the ailment and to heal the life of the sinus sufferer.

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