Laurie Menk Otto, ND, MPH

Naturopathic Medicine | Portland, Oregon


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Beyond Allegra and Flonase: Naturopathic Tips for Portland’s Allergy Season

Allergy treatment from Dr. Laurie Menk OttoYou know that feeling…the little itch in your nose or eyes. That’s when you know allergy season is on its way. Last year in Portland we had what felt like a very long allergy season. Did you know that you don’t have to suffer from allergies forever?

Immunotherapy is the only treatment for allergy that changes the way immune system reacts to allergens, ultimately leading to fewer or no symptoms after treatment. In other words, immunotherapy re-trains your body to stop reacting. I use sublingual immunotherapy or “allergy drops” to treat allergy. This treatment is very convenient—it’s as easy as taking drops under your tongue each day, and it does not require frequent office visits or shots. Relief can be felt as early as several weeks into treatment.

Your allergy drops are mixed specifically for your allergy. This is important, because drops allow you to receive treatment for all of your environmental allergens. Treating for just one or two allergens would not bring about strong symptom relief. If you are allergic to trees, dust, and dogs, you can be treated for all of them at the same time.

Is this different from taking an antihistamine?

Yes. Antihistamines and nasal sprays are often recommended to control allergy symptoms, but many people don’t like the side effects or don’t want to rely on medications forever. That’s where I can help develop treatment that is very specific to your symptoms.

What else can be done?

Identifying what you are allergic to, controlling your environment to reduce exposure, and starting immunotherapy are your best bets to feel lasting relief and stop symptoms for good.

First, allergy testing is used to identify exactly what you are reacting to. It’s an easy test that takes one hour, and you have results by the time you walk out the door. You will leave the appointment that day with a list of actions that you can take to remove allergens from your environment, which alone will help to reduce symptoms. But it doesn’t stop there. Diet or other changes can help to reduce symptoms further, and if you are looking for alternatives for symptom control, I can help you with other options.

When should I start?

Ideally, start the process of identifying your allergies with skin prick or blood tests about three months before your allergy season. Allergy evaluation and immunotherapy, however, can be started at any time.

Make this your year to start treatment to end your allergies. Stay tuned for future installments on my blog to learn about naturopathic allergy treatment options, or give me a call to schedule a consultation.

 


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Why see an ND for comprehensive allergy treatment

Comprehensive allergy treatment – what does this mean?

Naturopathic doctors are well known for addressing diet and lifestyle with every single patient, regardless of their underlying health condition. Treating allergy is no exception.

The most powerful direct tool I have for treating allergy is immunotherapy, which changes the immune system to relieve symptoms. But there might be more to the picture for complete symptom relief, and this is where working with me, or a naturopathic physician, will benefit you. We go deeper to figure it out.

Some patients come to see me to inquire about sublingual immunotherapy having had allergy treatment in the past, usually through allergy shots, or medications to reduce symptoms, and they tell me that those therapies “helped a little bit,” or “ I think that helped mostly,” but their symptoms weren’t completely relieved. Why is this? There must be an answer, right?

This is where you gain the most benefit from working with me, or a naturopathic physician. We’ll go deeper, and here is what is different:

  • We look at the local environment. Irritant triggers like smoke, perfumes and other chemicals in the environment, as well as hormones and weather changes can cause allergy-type symptoms that have nothing to do with allergy, so we find and reduce or minimize them as much as possible.
  • We pay attention to diet. What we eat and how our body uses the food is one of the foundations of health. Getting the right nutrients in and reducing foods that are irritating to the system reduces inflammation, improves nutritional status, and reduces allergy symptoms.
  • We make sure digestion is working well. Digestion and absorption must be strong in order to use all of the great foods that are being eaten. Elimination is also important, so we correct diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive disturbances.
  • We evaluate energy, stress, and sleep. All of these comprise the greater environment of the person. High stress and poor sleep cause inflammation and tax all body systems, and poor energy is a sign that something is out of balance. Think of it this way – will your garden produce with deficient, sandy, or nutrient deficient soil? No, it won’t. If your body has underlying inflammation or is depleted due to any of the above imbalances, or is deficient due to poor diet or high stress, or if the underlying environment is unhealthy, symptoms are an expression of this.

What would it feel like to live without allergy symptoms next spring? With some work and investigation, along with directed therapies, it is possible.