This time of year, articles about seasonal allergies abound in newspapers and magazines. Most of them give great advice on how to avoid pollen exposure. But these articles rarely explain the crucial concept of total allergen load.
What is Total Allergen Load, or Total Allergy Load?
Sometimes people experience allergy symptoms in the presence of a certain allergens, and sometimes they don't. Why is that?
Allergy symptoms appear only after you have reached your Allergic Threshold. A previous article about total allergen load explains the concept using the analogy of a bucket: Allergens, toxic chemicals, and other stressors fill up the bucket, and you experience allergy symptoms only when the bucket begins to overflow - when you reach your allergic threshold.
In this article, let's look at another analogy: building blocks.
Several different factors can contribute to your total allergen load, and each factor adds another block to the stack. Factors include not only exposure to inhalant allergens like pollen and mold, but also exposure to food allergens, chemical toxins, hormonal stressors, emotional stressors, nutritional stressors, and infectious stressors. When the stack of blocks grows higher than the allergic threshold, symptoms appear.
As the allergy epidemic gains momentum in our modern society, more people are becoming sensitive to multiple allergens and toxins, and they experience fluctuations in their total allergy load. Sometimes pollen bothers them; sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes dairy causes indigestion; sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a cleaning chemical triggers an asthma attack; sometimes it doesn't. It all depends on how many blocks are stacked up in the individual's total allergen load.
Here's the key to reducing your total allergen load and eliminating symptoms: You must treat all of the different contributing factors - not just one. For example, if you experience uncharacteristically severe reactions to pollen this year, of course you should try to reduce your exposure to pollen, but you should also take a look at the other blocks in your stack. Place an Allergy Armor cover on your pillow to reduce inhaled dust mite allergen, and you may find that your seasonal allergies fade. Likewise, you should reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals, find ways to reduce stress, and eat healthy and exercise to strengthen your immune system.
On his personal blog, Dr. George F. Kroker, MD FACAAI, illustrates total allergy load treatment with the tale of a man who has three splinters in his foot. The man finds one splinter and removes it, but he's still in pain, so he puts the splinter back in place. Then the man finds another splinter, removes it - and he's still in pain. The man in this parable is missing the big picture: It's the combination of all three splinters that's causing his pain.
All too often during allergy season, people focus on avoiding pollen but lose sight of other treatment options that would make them feel better.
To learn more, see How to Decrease Your Total Allergen Load.