Seasonal Allergies and GERD
While many think of seasonal allergies happening in the spring along with blooming flowers, fall can also be a difficult time for those who are allergic. Ragweed, dust, mold, mildew, and the removal of fall crops are just some of the possible fall triggers for allergy sufferers.
It was not until we saw a GI specialist at Children’s National Medical Center did we understand the link between my son’s seasonal allergies and his acid reflux disease. Our doctor told us that our son’s allergic nasal drip was "part of the holy trinity of acid reflux." She explained that as his allergic response becomes more active, he will have more nasal drip, and more nasal drip leads to more acid, and that acid can then reflux up into his nasal passages and make the whole cycle even worse.
Tips to Help Manage Your Symptoms
There are a few things that you can do this time of year to help lesson your increased acid reflux symptoms due to allergies.
1. Even though the weather this time of year can be gorgeous, keep the windows closed in at least one room of your house. Spending time in this room throughout the day will give your entire bodily system a break from the environmental stress being placed on it.
2. Shower and change clothes after working or playing outside. Most allergens cannot be seen. Especially on a windy day, just assume that if you have been outside, you are wearing allergens when you come inside.
3. Be proactive with your reflux medication and your allergy medication this time of year. Reflux comes in waves. One of the best ways to manage reflux is to understand ahead of time when your reflux may be troublesome and manage accordingly. An antihistamine such as Benadryl can be helpful. It works by blocking a certain natural substance (histamine) that your body makes during an allergic reaction. This medication can also slow down your runny nose and nasal drip which in turn can help your reflux symptoms.
4. Do not experiment with new foods. If your reflux this time of year is worsened due to allergies, do not "add insult to injury." Keep your eating very simple and reflux friendly until at least the first frost in your area.
5. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables. Allergens can be found in our environment and also in raw fruits and some vegetables. These same foods can often be better tolerated cooked. When foods are heated, the proteins are distorted and the immune system no longer recognizes the food as a problem.
6. Make an allergist part of your reflux team. One of the best things we did for our son’s reflux was to include an allergist as part of his medical team.
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. Learn more about Tracy and what healthy living services and products she can offer on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.