Meditation & Health No 15 - Table of Contents


and Care


     A significant number of people probably know of someone who suffers from some form of allergy, or are themselves allergy sufferers. Allergies to pollen, dust mites, mold, and animal dander are increasingly common. Spring and summer can be seasons of suffering for people allergic to pollen. Air pollution also places a heavy burden on the respiratory and immune systems. Pollution can provoke the same symptoms, such as itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose, as an allergy to pollen.


Allergic Disorderse


    An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. If a person is born with certain genes, his immune system may overreact to substances in the environment that are normally harmless to most people. A person develops an allergic reaction when the immune system inappropriately reacts and releases chemicals like histamine to attack a harmless protein as if it were a threat. Histamine produces many of the symptoms associated with allergies. There are hundreds of proteins that may trigger allergic reactions, from pollen to pet dander to various foods. Common allergic disorders include allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, allergic pharyngitis, allergic bronchitis, and allergic asthma.




Know Your Enemy and Know Yourself


    The type of symptoms an allergy sufferer presents depend on the type of allergen. Respiratory allergens cause symptoms like sneezing, sniffling, wheezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat, etc. With any allergy, your first method of treatment should be to avoid the offending allergen if possible.

    The following is a brief introduction to the common types of allergic disorders.


Pollinosis (Hay Fever)


    This is a type of allergic rhinitis. Hay fever is caused by an allergic reaction to airborne plant pollens or fungi, which are typically only present for part of a year, such as spring or fall. Symptoms of hay fever include frequent sneezing, runny or blocked nose, cough, and clearing your throat. Severe hay-fever symptoms may include headache and itchiness that spreads from the eyes to the ears and throat.


Allergic Asthma


    Allergens that give some people a runny nose can cause an asthma attack in others. Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma, and it is most likely to affect infants and young children. If the allergy is left untreated, the child is more likely to have persistent, lifelong allergic asthma. Typical allergy triggers are airborne allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold, and pet dander. Sufferers may also be allergic to foods such as milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shrimp, crab, or other shellfish. One of the reasons why some people suffer an allergic asthma attack in autumn, winter or even in an air-conditioned room is that cold air exacerbates the condition. Symptoms of allergic asthma include itchy and watery eyes, coughing, breathing difficulties, and chest tightness. People with more severe asthma have shortness of breath while at rest or wake up with this symptom during the night.

        If you have allergic asthma, it may get worse after you exercise in cold air or after breathing in smoke, dust or fumes. Sometimes even a strong smell can set it off. Because allergens are everywhere, it’s important that people with allergic asthma know their triggers and learn how to prevent an attack.



Allergic Rhinitis (Sensitive Nose)


    Allergic rhinitis is a diagnosis associated with a group of symptoms affecting the nose. The characteristic symptoms that occur shortly after you come into contact with the substance you are allergic to may include: sneezing fits, itchy nose, stuffy nose, runny nose. Symptoms that may develop later may include clogged ears, dizziness, headache, and even a reduced sense of smell since sinusitis is a common complication of allergic rhinitis. These symptoms occur when you breathe in something you are allergic to, such as pollen, dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold, or when you are chronically overexposed to dust and certain types of cosmetics. Symptoms can also occur when you eat a food that you are allergic to.


Allergic Bronchitis


    Allergic bronchitis occurs when allergies set off an immune-system reaction that inflames the bronchial tubes. It is often a short-term condition that results from seasonal allergies, which distinguishes it from asthma. Like asthma, however, symptoms include wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing. Other possible symptoms include sore throat, fatigue, bluish cast to the skin, swelling of the lips, chest pain, and headaches. Allergic bronchitis is a direct result of exposure to allergens, unlike non-allergic bronchitis which is the result of a viral or bacterial infection that manifests as a cold or flu. Allergic bronchitis can also be triggered by serious food allergies causing respiratory-tract infections.


Allergic Pharyngitis


    If you have seasonal allergies or ongoing allergic reactions to pollen, dust, pet dander, or molds, you’re more likely to develop a sore throat than are people who don’t have allergies. The problem may be complicated by postnasal drip, which can irritate and inflame the throat. If your allergies are acting up, that can make your throat feel scratchy. A sore throat is the primary symptom of allergic pharyngitis, which is inflammation of the throat (pharynx).

     Symptoms of allergic pharyngitis include itchy throat, a sensation that there is a lump in the throat, a dry cough. In the case of a severe allergic reaction, your throat may swell up because of increased levels of histamine. Because your immune system reacts as if it’s under attack, a flood of chemicals attempt to fight off the allergen, causing inflammation and swelling throughout your body. Your lungs may become constricted and the lining of your esophagus swollen, which may cause difficulty in breathing, chest tightness, dizziness, headache, etc.



What Causes Allergies?




    Spring is not the only allergy season. Many plants pollinate year round. Summer and autumn are known to be allergy seasons too.


Food Allergy


    Allergens exist in our daily diet too.For example, foods such as kidney bean, mushroom, coriander, pepper, garlic, pineapple, mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, dairy products, wheat and other gluten-containing grains, bean products, certain types of seafood and meat, peanut, and cashew can cause reactions in some people. In addition, some people may experience allergy symptoms after drinking alcoholic beverages or caffeinated drinks such as coffee.


Genetic Inheritance


    Allergies have a genetic component. If parents or grandparents suffer from allergies, there is a tendency for their children or grandchildren to suffer from allergies too. Studies show that if only one parent has allergies of any type, there is a 50 percent chance their children will have allergies. If both parents have allergies, the chance of their children suffering the same way jumps to 90 percent.




    You may think of mold growing in your basement or bathroom — damp areas in the house — but mold spores also love wet spots outside. Many molds grow on rotting logs and fallen leaves. The primary allergen in mold is the mold spore. Inhaling the spores causes allergic reactions in some people. Allergic symptoms from mold spores are most common from July to early fall.


Pet Allergy


    People who are sensitive to the proteins found in a pet’s dander, skin flakes, saliva, and urine may experience respiratory-allergy symptoms. Furthermore, pet hair or fur can collect pollen, mold spores and other outdoor allergens. For some people, a contact allergy to pet fur may aggravate their asthma symptoms.


Dust Mites


    Dust contains a large number of dust mites which are too small to be seen with the naked eye. If you don’t clean your home or office regularly, dust mites will accumulate. Over time, you could experience increased allergy symptoms as you continue to breathe in the dust mites’ waste particles.



Do Not Mistake an Allergy for a Cold


     Respiratory allergies and colds share some common symptoms, so it may be hard to tell the two apart. At the initial stage, most people will mistake an allergy symptom for a cold. So how do we identify whether it is a cold or respiratory allergy?

     Here are four signs to look for:

    1. Most respiratory-allergy attacks go along with the change of seasons and occur immediately after exposure to pollens in spring, summer or fall. If symptoms tend to show up at the same time every year, it may well indicate seasonal allergies rather than a cold. Common colds are caused by viruses, while seasonal allergies are immune-system responses. Colds do not follow any season, and they often take several days to show up after exposure to a virus or bacteria.

    2. Respiratory allergy is a chronic disease; there will be repeated allergy attacks. Allergies can last as long as you’re exposed to the thing you’re allergic to. The symptoms will ease once you distance yourself from the allergen. Allergies don’t usually cause fever or body aches, whereas people with a cold may experience these symptoms. Colds generally last about seven to 10 days.

    3.In general, people with respiratory allergy tend to sneeze more strongly and repetitively. They produce clear nasal discharge, have a dry cough and frequent wheezing. Cold sufferers don’t usually sneeze repeatedly and sometimes there is a thick yellow nasal discharge.

    4.Anti-inflammatory and antiviral treatments do not significantly improve the allergic condition. However, once you avoid the allergen as much as possible, your symptoms may improve or disappear. Conversely, anti-inflammatories and antiviral treatments may reduce your cold symptoms.



Prevention of Respiratory Allergy


Reduce Allergen Exposure


Avoidance Therapy

    The key to managing allergies is to prevent exposure to the allergens. It is far better to avoid contact with the substances that trigger your allergic reaction than rush to a doctor. One way is to  create a healthy living environment:

    Reduce humidity by increasing ventilation. Open the windows daily for at least 10 minutes to ventilate the house.

    Use a good anti-dust air filter for air conditioning which can filter away smoke particles, dust mites, odors, and other pollutants that you breathe in.

    Vacuum and clean the rooms regularly to reduce the dust so as to avoid accumulation of dust mites.

    Frequently wash the bedsheets, duvet and pillowcases in hot water. Same goes for the curtains and carpets —regular cleaning will reduce mites and other triggers.

    If you love fresh blooms in the house, choose flowers that have both male and female parts as they can pollinate without air travel, thus reducing the likelihood of floating pollen. Such “perfect flowers” include roses, lilies, tulips, and hydrangeas.

    If you want to keep pets, it is recommended to bathe them at least once a week. Keep them out of your bedroom.


Take Precautions When Outdoors


    It is recommended to avoid places where air quality is poor such as crowded malls and cinemas. In recent years, many areas in the world are plagued with air pollution. Reduce your outdoor physical activity and wear a mask.

     On hazy days, there are a large number of particles floating in the air. The size of the particles is very important. Those particles 10 micrometers or less in diameter tend to pose the greatest health concern because they can get deep into the lungs. When a sensitive person inhales an excess of these particles, it can increase their risk of developing viral and bacterial infections, which will then cause an infection of the upper respiratory tract.


Prevention of Seasonal Allergies


    To combat peak allergy season, keep indoor humidity at a suitable level, drink more water, and increase your intake of protein and nutrient-dense foods. Some people find that eating raw, local honey at the start of allergy season helps them to develop a tolerance to local pollen. There are studies that support this, although research is mixed. It’s worth giving it a try.



Daily Routine and Healthy Diet


Positive mindset and relaxation

    During stressful situations, the body releases cytokines, which have an effect on the severity of your allergy attacks. Furthermore, stress and anxiety cause the immune system to function improperly, setting the stage for more intense allergic reactions. Maintain a positive mindset and engage in relaxing exercises in order to strengthen your immune system.

Pay special attention to the daily dietn

    If you have food allergies, make use of a food diary to determine which foods trigger your allergy symptoms. By keeping a food diary and recording what you have eaten throughout the day and the symptoms you experienced, it will help you to discover the offending food or foods. As well, Traditional Chinese Medicine says that people who are prone to allergies should not drink ice water or eat cold food, so as not to stimulate the cause of allergies.

    Eating foods that have the potential to curb allergies is always a smart idea. A diet high in antioxidant-rich foods and low in sugar and junk food will reduce overall inflammation in the body. Eat foods that contain quercetin, a plant flavonoid that is a natural antihistamine. Quercetin-containing items include apples, peppers, berries, leafy greens, as well as many other plant foods. Be sure to make foods rich in probiotics a part of your diet, as these healthy bacteria regulate your immune system and may treat or prevent allergies. Good probiotic options are miso, kimchi and kefir. Tea, particularly green tea, contains natural antihistamines, so sipping a cup regularly can be a good allergy-calming measure. Try drinking green tea in the morning if you are prone to morning sneezing. When pollen is flooding the air, avoid spicy foods, as they can increase histamine in the body.       

Make it a habit to get adequate sleep


    Try to go to sleep before 11 p.m. Good-quality sleep of adequate duration helps to boost the immune system. Having a strong immune system could reduce the severity of allergic reactions.


Exercise Is Essential


    Respiratory allergy is caused by an immune-system disorder. If you pay attention to your diet and avoid the allergens, it is possible to reduce the incidence of allergic reactions. Studies have also shown that allergy symptoms improve as fitness improves. The right amount of exercise such as walking, cycling, swimming, or hiking can boost your immune system.

     Besides the aforementioned exercises, the walking meditation Energy Bagua and prostration can help to strengthen the immune system and internal organs. If you persist in practicing for a period of time, you may experience significant improvement in allergy symptoms due to deep cleansing at a cellular level.

     By strengthening the immune system, eating a nourishing diet, getting proper rest and exercise, and avoiding known allergens, it is possible to breathe easy and experience a new allergy-free lease on life.




Meditation & Health No 15 - Table of Contents