Decreasing Mold and Environmental Allergen Reactivity With Nasal Rinsing
Allergy season is here. In the spring, we tend to see more trees blooming and releasing their pollen into the air. We also see humidity levels rise making dormant mold spores, both outdoors and inside, start to “come alive” again. As a result, allergy symptoms, like itchy eyes, runny noses, nasal congestion, headaches, and asthma episodes become problematic for a large number of the population. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 60 million Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis or hay fever that occurs when allergens, like pollen or mold, enter the body and our immune systems identify them as a threat.
Why do Allergies Flare in the Spring?
Allergies are not just regulated to the Spring. Typically allergies flare during both the Spring and Fall. Spring is the heaviest time for pollen, though. Pollen is made up of tiny grains carried on the anthers (male parts) of flowers. Ragweed pollen can travel up to 400 miles out to sea and up to 2 miles high in the sky. Primary and secondary pollens and pollen loads in the air differ according to geographic location, but seasonal changes cause trees, bushes, and flowers to dump more pollen at certain times in the year. In the Spring, people feel their allergies more, because the temp is up, rainfall is often, and molds come alive from winter. When it is cold and dry, mold is without a water source, so essentially remains present, but “goes to sleep” and is not actively growing or reproducing as much.
Mold: The Master Antigen
Mold is the “master” antigen, meaning exposure to certain molds makes all other allergies increase. Why? Because mold antigens cause an immune reaction that increases inflammatory mediators in the body to ALL antigens. When someone who is allergic to mold is exposed, interleukins 5,13, and interferon Gamma increase. Interleukins (IL) are any group of naturally occurring proteins that mediate communication between cells. They are particularly important in stimulating immune responses, such as inflammation. Interferon-gamma is a cytokine critical to both innate and adaptive immunity, and functions as the primary activator of macrophages, in addition to stimulating natural killer cells and neutrophils. The increased presence of these inflammatory mediators also increases systemic inflammation which causes allergies to increase.
For anyone interested in the details, this is how it works: The IL 5 activates B cells to become antibody-secreting cells. IL 13 causes antibodies to switch to IgE (immediate allergic reaction) and IgG1 (delayed allergic reaction) which cause both immediate and delayed allergic reactions. This the reason why mold-sensitive patients often cannot just escape the allergen to feel relief. The inflammation from mold can be chronic and persist because, once the inflammatory cascade begins, it makes all other allergens MORE inflammatory as well. This “master antigen” role for mold also makes removing your exposure to it in an indoor environment key to addressing other allergies and inflammatory conditions; removing mold anywhere your exposure is more concentrated and frequent, improves ALL allergy and histamine response symptoms. In fact, I have had many patients who were able to get off allergy meds and even allergy shots after proper environmental remediation or moving into a mold-free, very low mold house and not taking mold-contaminated items with them.
Why is Nasal Rinsing Helpful?
Nasal rinsing is important because it removes the antigen (pollen, mold, etc.), which is causing the reaction from entering the body through the nose. This is more powerful than any medication because the cause of the entire reaction is removed, thus it stops quickly.
What Types of Nasal Rinsing Systems Work Best and Why?
I like the Nasopure Nasal Wash System because of its shape. The bottle is easy to squeeze and its shape allows the saline to go into one side and out of the other side. The bottle can also be held parallel, so the hand squeezing the bottle is out of the water flow. There are also two nasal irrigation systems that work well if you do not like the squeeze bottle: the Navage and the Grossan Hydro Pulse Nasal Irrigator System. The Navage puts saline into one side and sucks from the other side, allowing the saline to go up one nostril and to come out of the other back into the waste container. The nostrils can be rotated to change irrigation and suction sides. The Grossan delivers saline into the nose but does not suction. It allows for pulsatile sinus irrigation. All three of these nasal irrigation systems come with packets to mix to make a buffered saline solution to use as the main rinsing component as well. Buffered saline is naturally antimicrobial and antifungal but friendly to the mucosal cilia and does not destroy them.
Neti pots are not desirable for nasal irrigation, because when the head is turned with one side up and the other side down, all the irrigation debris goes into the ear Eustachian tube on its way out of the opposite nostril. This can cause inflammation and infection to spread or go deeper, which is obviously NOT the goal.
What Products Are Beneficial to Add to a Nasal Rinse?
For allergy symptoms, using a solution of salt and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is excellent. Multiple rinses can be done until all the antigens are removed and the symptoms are resolved. CitriDrops Dietary Supplement can also be put into the saline solution, 4-8 drops per 8 ounces of saline, to treat any infection symptoms. The CitriDrops also leaves a slight antifungal/antimicrobial residue behind in the mucosa which can be more of a prophylactic.
Nasal Rinsing 101
Nasal rinsing is really quite easy and quick if you know what you are doing and if you keep the right tools on hand. I made a quick video with my granddaughter to explain how to get your Nasopure bottle ready with your saline solution and CitriDrops Dietary Supplement and to show you how to do a nasal rinse properly at home.
Additionally, when rinsing, hold the head slightly down, and put the tip of the bottle into the nose making sure a small space is left so as not to seal the nasal opening. This prevents forcing saline into the Eustachian ear tube. When you squeeze the bottle, aim towards the throat, gently squeezing the Nasopure so that saline goes into one nostril and out of the other or out of the mouth. Leave your mouth slightly open to allow yourself to breathe easily while irrigating.
You should follow this nasal rinsing process 2 or more times daily in allergy season or until relief is obtained. Additionally, the xylitol in the CitriDrops Nasal Spray is excellent for drying up congestion and mucous after nasal irrigation.
Nasal Rinsing Should NOT Hurt
You have irrigated correctly if it feels good, does not hurt, and saline comes out of either the mouth or the opposite nostril or both the mouth and opposite nostril. If you have frequent or excessive nose bleeding or pain whenever you try nasal rinsing, you should not do it without a doctor’s supervision.
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About the Author: Dr. Donald Dennis is an Atlanta, Georgia, Board Certified Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Surgeon with more than 36 years of experience in treating over 30,000 patients with sinusitis. He combined his educational groundwork and clinical experience to develop a safe, effective sinus protocol that anyone can easily use to gain sinus symptom relief. He is still constantly learning new things to extend and improve his knowledge, so that I may better help his patients. He created Micro Balance Health Products to bring the same helpful information and products he gives to his patients to others who are also suffering from chronic sinusitis or whose health and well-being have deteriorated due to exposure to mold and mycotoxins.