Wednesday, April 12, 2017

So Irritated!

Hey everyone...once again, a lull in my posts...  I have had a challenging Winter/Spring, I am now enrolled in a course and have lots of homework, my back and neck went out consecutive weeks, and my son just got over having the flu for a week-and-a-half, yada, yada, yada...I'm tired.  Hahaha!

I have had all sorts of grand ideas for posts since you last heard from me...insomnia, a great Spring hand lotion you must try, and more, but here I am sharing what is absolutely top of mind, and top of season for me right now.

Unfortunately I am having a "flare-up" of some sort right now, and that is not all that uncommon for me this time of year.  The bonus about having a "chronic" illness is that you start to notice very helpful patterns, and you are able to make very interesting connections, and therefore come up with solutions.

A few weeks ago I woke-up very early one morning and my neck had completely seized up...such an awful "surprise" to have just appear like that.  Before that my back was out, and in the last week I have developed a "problem tooth."  I started freaking out and worrying that I would have to go to the dentist...and since I have never had dental work (knock on wood), I was painting a picture of how awful it was potentially going to be (thoughts can also be an unhealthy contributor, of course...which I will address in another post).  All of these issues have something in common...inflammation.

For my tooth I did what I usually do when I have a significant symptom...head to my acupuncturist...then the next day I hit my craniosacral therapist for a little jaw/mouth work...etc...  All the while throwing every home remedy I could come up with at my tooth in hopes of avoiding the dentist.  Well, here I sit today, pain-free (in the mouth, anyway), and seemingly not having to go to the dentist.

However, my insomnia is back, and it's not the old "Damn, I can't sleep" kind, it's the full-blown waking up gasping for air, heart racing, shaking, having to poop immediately (TMI?!), feel-like-you-are-dying, kind.  I like to call it "Seasonal Sleep Apnea" nasal and oral tissues get so inflamed from allergens that the poor breathing sends me into fight-or-flight/panic.  Not a fun way to "wake up."  Unfortunately I have had this off and on for the last 6 years of dealing with a chronic illness, and it is by far the worst symptom I have had.  Usually it hits me in Spring and Fall (or after a chemical exposure), but in my strongest, healthiest times it isn't as bad.  I know that the cumulative stress I have been dealing with lately set me up for the perfect storm this time.  Just a reminder that stress management and self-care are KEY!

I have written about allergies before (you can check out my allergy tips and tricks here), and I could go on and on about the crazy, Private-Investigator-dots I have connected for myself and the people I coach (things like allergies AND digestive issues, sleep disorders - teeth grinding/insomnia, dental issues, muscle/joint/nerve pain), but I really want to highlight the connection between what you eat and histamine intolerance/allergies.  About three years ago I discovered an absolutely AMAZING resource ("Foods, Food Families, and Other Food Lists") that lists many foods and what "family" they are in.  This can serve like a key or a legend to a map that will help you figure out some pretty incredible cross-reactivity stuff...for instance I was always insanely allergic to poison ivy as a kid (so reactive I had to have prednisone every Summer to reel it in)...cashews, mangos, and pistachios are in the same family!  AVOID!  I have shared this resource with anyone who is interested in decoding their sensitivities...including my son's former Kindergarten teacher, because her son has major allergies.  She looked at his diagnosed food allergies on the list (mostly tree nuts), and she found that some of the trees in their yard were in the same "family" as her son's biggest food offenders, so they cut them down, and it helped!  Knowledge is power...and sometimes even very powerful medicine!

Just this week a new MindBodyGreen article popped up: "The Surprising Foods That Are Making Your Seasonal Allergies Worse."  This is such important information to be aware of.  You may be like me, no real "obvious" signs of seasonal allergies, but just experiencing an overall not feeling well.  It could be digestive issues, body aches and pains, a general sense of agitation or anxiety.  There may be foods that you are fine eating most of the year, but can't tolerate during allergy surges...for example, you might want to skip that chamomile tea or sunflower seed butter during ragweed season!

The last few resources I am going to share with you are absolutely BRILLIANT "must reads."  The first gives an excellent overview of why so many more people have allergies in today's world...and that number is growing all the time.  I found it in one of my favorite magazines, "Experience Life" - "Taking On the Allergy Epidemic."  You will learn so much about the many factors that contribute to allergies.  "Pollen Is Not The Problem," by "The Healthy Home Economist" goes hand-in-hand with the previous article.  Sarah gets right to the heart of the matter...and per usual, it all comes down to your gut!

The other very timely article that showed up in my inbox today is by one of my fave docs of all-time, Dr. Aviva Romm - "Histamine Intolerance: Could It Be Causing Your Symptoms?"  The reason I was inspired to bust out this blog post TODAY, is because she is having a Facebook Live tonight (4/12/17 @7:00PM Eastern) to go along with this super informative article.  You might be (pleasantly) shocked by learning more about Histamine Intolerance, because much like other things (Lyme, etc.) it can be in disguise and causing significant misery...and it just might be the answer you (or a loved one) have been searching for!  Speaking of Lyme, Histamine Intolerance is sometimes triggered by (and shows up following) a virus, bacterial infection, or the onset of an autoimmune illness...think immune system overreaction (or one that can't calm/shut off after the threat is gone) if you have a chronic infection (like Lyme, Mono/EBV, etc.), a thyroid condition, or a digestive condition like Inflammatory Bowel Disease, H.I. just might be more common for you.  Though it is not common in the general population, as a whole, it is quite common in the chronically unwell/ill (especially those with "mystery"/undiagnosed conditions).

Not sure if you have allergies and/or histamine intolerance?  One clue would be you (or your child) having a "flu" or cold for a week or more, at the same time every year (this is not reserved for Spring only).  A personal example I can share of the initial immune response someone can have to a change in the air is when we bring our live Christmas tree into the house my son always has a "cold" for about the first 3-5 days until his system adjusts.  This year we didn't have one, and NO "cold."  I highly recommend keeping a detailed journal noting days you don't feel your best and adding details about what that day was like (weather, food you ate, pollen count/noticing buds/green stuff in the air).  Over time you will be able to connect your own dots and improve your quality of life!  What's better than getting more deeply in touch with yourself and how to cultivate your optimal wellness?!

If you do suspect histamine intolerance, run to this AWESOMELY AMAZING RESOURCE: Healing Histamine, created by a former CNN journalist who went through her own battle and won.

Again, I have only given a few examples and clues...allergies and histamine intolerance can come in MANY shapes and sizes.  You could be on an anxiety medication, when really you just need to cut out some of the foods you are eating and focus on healing your gut.  This is why I am studying to be a Functional Medicine coach, because in FM we investigate, connect the dots, and tend the soil, instead of spraying the leaves repeatedly with a chemical...hoping the tree will just survive, instead of thriving as it has the innate potential to do.  Inform yourself and you heal yourself in the process!
BONUS TIP: 2 "Quick Fixes" I use to stop a reaction (chemical, allergy, etc.) are 1. Activated Charcoal & 2. Alka-Seltzer Gold.  They are not meant for long-term healing but can relieve the most intense symptoms while you eliminate foods/triggers and work on a longterm wellness solution.  These are about bringing some much needed RELIEF!  (And always make sure you are drinking plenty of water!)