Environmental sensitivities and allergies are on the rise. Around a quarter of the population has an allergy or environmental sensitivity of some sort. But not everyone suffers equally. Some people have more allergies or sensitivities than others. What’s going on, and what can we do about it?
For most, the concept of an allergic reaction is the immune system’s response to a chemical or “allergen” that the body sees as a threat. The allergen may be harmless to many, but for those with an allergic reaction, their immune system will produces antibodies to fight off the foreign substance. This creates an inflammatory response that can range from mildly uncomfortable in some to life threatening in others.
Symptoms vary and can include swelling of tissues like those in the nose, sinuses and airways, redness and itching around the eyes, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, eczema, hives, bloating, vomiting and diarrhea. Allergies are commonly treated with medication and immunotherapy. Immunotherapy involves the introduction of controlled quantities of an allergen into the body to desensitize it, decreasing the allergic reaction.
Environmental sensitivities are sometimes referred to as “multiple chemical sensitivity” (MCS) or “twentieth century disease”. This condition results in symptoms that mimic allergies, the key difference being that there is no specific allergen and that the sources of irritation do not directly affect the immune system.
Symptoms of environmental sensitivities include headaches, nerve pain, dry eyes, dry mouth, weakness, trembling, tendonitis, seizures, overactive bladder, joint pains, dizziness, insomnia and problems with eyesight, like an inability to focus and blurring of vision. Taking steps to reduce stress, such as regular exercise or behavior modification can help improve the body’s ability to cope with triggers is important for managing environmental sensitivities.
In 2007, the Canadian Human Rights Commission officially recognized environmental sensitivities as a disability. This affects Canadian anti-discrimination laws, prohibiting employers from taking action against employees who suffer from this type of ailment and encouraging companies to help reduce the potential impact of chemicals on workplace sufferers.
Some of the possible triggers for environmental sensitivities include,
- Video display screens
- Furniture and carpets
- Glues, paints and varnishes
- Air fresheners, perfumes and personal care products
- Tobacco smoke and vehicle exhaust
- Bacteria or molds in ventilation systems or other parts of buildings
- Fluorescent light bulbs
When it comes to allergies and sensitivities, you cannot ignore the relationship between the body’s immune system as it relates to the brain itself. The left side of your brain initiates or activates your immune system while the right brain controls the immune system by inhibiting it. Therefore it becomes important in the examination of any allergy patient to include a thorough functional examination of the left and right sides of the brain.
Although this may seem complicated, any medical or chiropractic doctor can perform such an examination in their office. What if your allergies are the result of an overactive left hemisphere or an underactive right brain, wouldn’t you like to know? There are all natural solutions available for allergy sufferers, including an opportunity to regain control of your immune reactions, and better cope with stress. When was your last chiropractic checkup?