Allergies 101

Allergies 101—part 1 of a series

The change of season brings new life and abundant beauty. But not everyone looks forward to this time of year. If you are one of the millions with seasonal allergies, spring and fall can be a real drain – both physically and financially.

Today we begin a series highlighting my approach to treating allergies.

  1. Today’s Focus: Allergies 101
  2. Juice Your Way to Health
  3. Allergy Myth or Truth?
  4. How to Stock Your Allergy Medicine Cabinet

My hope is that the information presented in this series empowers you to take steps toward overcoming your allergies once and for all.

The Statistics—It’s Shocking

Last year in the U.S., about 24 million adults and children were diagnosed with seasonal allergies. (1) That’s roughly how many people live in the 11 most densely-populated cities combined (New York, LA, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose and Austin).

What is the cost? Americans spend a staggering $14.5 billion on allergies each year. Seasonal allergies account for roughly half. This figure includes doctor visits and medication costs, but does not take into consideration the indirect costs of lower productivity, absenteeism and reduced quality of life. (2)

Unfortunately, things aren’t improving.

Data shows that allergy prevalence is on the rise as pollen counts soar and the allergy season grows a little longer each year. Why is this happening? Most blame climate change and the overabundance of male trees in landscaping.

The Body’s Allergic Inflammatory Response—simply explained

When allergens make it past the first line of defense (the nose), they come into contact with the immune system. In people who are “allergic,” the allergen is mistakenly seen as a threat, prompting white blood cells to release histamine in an effort to protect the body from further invasion. This protection comes in the form of swelling & inflammation and the leakage of fluid.

The symptoms of this over-reactive immune response can be very uncomfortable and in some cases, debilitating. They range from sniffles, sneezing fits and irritated eyes to more serious reactions such as difficulty breathing and hives.

Myth: An over-reactive immune system is too strong.

A hyperactive immune system is not too strong. It is misfiring, which is a sign of weakness. A healthy immune system is discerning. It targets real threats such as pathogens and parasites, while ignoring harmless pollens.

Next week we’ll explore more allergy myths (and the truth). You’ll come away with some great tips for getting through this allergy season!

In the meantime, I welcome your questions & comments.

Dr. Taz MD, the living healthy, naturally™ doctor.


1) “Allergies and Hay Fever”, CDC Fast Stats, December 12, 2012

2) “Allergy Facts and Figures”, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America