Dr. Stella Seto

Preventing and Treating Spring Allergies

Spring brings warmer weather but for some people seasonal allergies as well. One in six Canadians suffers from seasonal allergies. Allergy season can start in spring and last till late autumn depending on what people are allergic to.

Seasonal allergies are an immune response to an otherwise harmless substance such as pollen or dust mites. Dust mites or pollen comes into contact with cells in the mucous membrane of your nose, mouth, throat. This triggers the release of histamine. Histamine is part of the immune system that causes the inflammatory symptoms associated with allergies.
The symptoms of seasonal allergies are: itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, itchy throat and ears, sneezing and congestion. This differs from a cold or flu that tends to last less than 2 weeks and can have a cough, fever and muscle aches. 

There are many ways to treat and help prevent seasonal allergies: 

  • Pollen counts are highest between 5-10 AM and on dry, hot and windy days. Try to limit time outside during these times.
  • Keep house and car windows closed.
  • A Hepa air filter can aid in removing allergens from the house. Keep in the bedroom when sleeping. 
  • Shower and change/wash your clothes after coming in from outside to avoid spreading pollen through your home and onto your bed.
  • Did you know hair gel attracts pollen? Hair products can be very sticky and cause pollen to stick to your hair, worsening allergies. Wearing a hat and washing your hair when you come in limits exposure.
  • Large sunglasses can reduce your eyes exposure to pollen.
  • Line your mattress and pillows with dust mite covers as the bed contains the highest concentration of mite allergens.
  • Wash your bed linens weekly in hot water (55C-60C) to help kill dust mites. If you prefer to use cold water, be sure to tumble dry the linens in a hot dryer for at least ten consecutive minutes at 55C to kill the mites. 
  • Nasal irrigation with a sinus rinse or neti pot to clear nasal passages of pollen and other allergens. Remember to allow to dry your nasal irrigation device between uses and replace at least every 3 months to avoid bacteria from accumulating. 

Diet plays a huge role in allergy control and inflammation. Your intestines and your immune system are closely linked. 70-80% of the cells that make up your immune system are in your intestinal lining.  A healthy microbiome (intestinal bacteria) has been shown to aid in allergy relief.

A 2015 review found that amongst 23 studies, probiotics significantly improved quality of life, while every human trial within the review noted improvement in at least one marker, including allergic symptoms themselves. 

Source: Zajac, Alexander E., Austin S. Adams, and Justin H. Turner. “A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Probiotics for the Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis.” International forum of allergy & rhinology5.6 (2015): 524–532. PMC. Web. 28 May 2018.

A 2016 trial corresponded with these findings.

Source: Güvenç, Işıl Adadan, et al. “Do probiotics have a role in the treatment of allergic rhinitis? A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis.” American journal of rhinology & allergy30.5 (2016): e157-e175.

Certain pollens have cross reactivity with foods. If you have a birth allergy you an have allergies to apples, almonds, apricots, carrots, cherries, hazelnuts and peanuts to name a few. An allergy to dust mites can cross react to prawns, crab, lobster and shrimp. Food sensitivity testing can test your blood for antibodies that your body produces towards foods. This test will determine how your diet affects your immune system and thus your antibody and histamine production. There are also many herbal or nutritional treatments that can tailored for your individual allergy concerns.

Please consult Dr. Seto, ND for a personalized health and allergy treatment plan. 

Dr. Stella Seto, ND is a licensed naturopathic physician with a special interest in sports and pain management, hormone balance and clinical nutrition/food sensitivities. She is covered by most extended health care plans. www.stellarhealth.ca

She is located at: Alliance Wellness
401-1177 West Broadway @ Alder, (604)737-1177

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4 Health Tips for a Strong Immune System

During the holidays we spend more time indoors enclosed with people who are sneezing/coughing with re-circulated air. Adding travel, stress, late nights and holiday temptations to make poor food and drink choices can be a recipe for getting a cold or flu.

Here are 4 tips to improve your immune health in this cold and flu season.

1. Wash your hands


Wash your hands frequently with regular soap (triclosan in antibacterial soaps not only breeds antibiotic resistance but in animal studies disrupts hormones) and warm water for as long as it takes for you to sing happy birthday two times, approximately 20 seconds.


2. Get your Vitamin D levels checked


We want levels not to prevent rickets but for optimal health so aim for levels 100 to 160 nmol/L. In Canada where we don’t get enough sunlight to produce sufficient vitamin D especially in the winter, most people require 2000-5000 IU VitD3 for optimal levels.


3. Limit refined sugar


Sugar can decrease the immune system up to 40% for up to 5 hours afterwards. Avoid artificial sweeteners.


4. Get your gut healthy


Up to 80% of our immune system is in our digestive tract. The gut lining has the surface area of a tennis court (200m2) and there are 10x the number of bacterial cells in our gut than all our human cells so it’s important to make sure the flora is balanced. If you have excessive gas, bloating, cramping, allergies, low immune or autoimmune disorders it maybe a sign you may have increased intestinal permeability or “leaky gut”. Probiotics and fermented foods can help restore the health of the gut in conjunction with eliminating foods, parasites, toxins and medications that can cause inflammation of the gut lining.

Please consult Dr. Stella Seto, ND for a personalized health and nutrition plan.

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