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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

When Allergies Seem to Come from Nowhere

Apr 02, 2012 06:43AM ● By Colleen Chausse


Most people have sensitivities that the body can handle naturally and uneventfully. But sometimes medications, processed foods, pollutants and excessive stress create a toxic overload that makes a person more susceptible to allergic reactions. Any additional stressors can set the body off and trigger a phenomenon known as the rain barrel effect, in which allergy symptoms come on suddenly or more strongly than before.

For example, someone with a historically mild cat allergy who is undergoing a stressful life event, eating poorly, or experiencing hormonal shifts may suddenly experience a profound allergic reaction when coming in contact with a cat. This rain barrel effect plays out seasonally with pollen as the trees start to burst and people begin to suffer despite a lack of symptoms at other times of the year.

The sudden onset or reappearance of allergy symptoms after a long period of relief can also be due to physical injury or trauma. Someone who was successfully treated for allergies and later endures an accident, illness, infection or surgery may once again be vulnerable to allergic symptoms. Women who go through pregnancy and other hormonal shifts can likewise experience sudden, dramatic allergic reactions that seem to come from nowhere.

Sometimes what people call allergies are actually sensitivities that are harder to detect in blood tests. Symptoms such as brain fog, depression, eczema, rashes and hives can come from environmental, chemical and seasonal triggers or from sensitivities to food, medications and perfume. People whose mouths get itchy with certain raw fruits and vegetables may be suffering from oral allergy syndrome (OAS), which is often due to cross-pollination. In other words, people who have an allergy or sensitivity to birch pollen or ragweed may also have a problem with carrots or watermelon, which have similar botanical proteins. Cooking or processing the fruits and vegetables breaks down the proteins that cause OAS.

Eating well, reducing stress and introducing organic and chemical free products into the home are great ways to reduce the toxic overload that can lead to the rain barrel effect. Antihistamines, chiropractic care, herbal supplements, acupuncture and neti pots can provide symptomatic allergy relief, as can a computer driven treatment called Advanced Allergy Therapeutics. Finally, when April showers bring May flowers and some uncomfortable reactions, is a good place to turn for local information.

Colleen D. Chausse, BS, RN, LMT is the owner and a practitioner at Mass Allergy Relief Center, 594 Marrett Road, Ste. 19, in Lexington. For more information call 781-274-7700 or visit