It seem to have fallen foul of the chemicals in the water of the swimming pool at my health club. I feel as if I have flu, with sneezing, itchy nose and lips, runny nose and achy limbs. I don’t like taking I don’t like taking steroids. What do you suggest?
The water in public swimming pools is treated with various chemicals such as chlorine, which can cause a short-lived localised reaction, such as a runny nose or itchy eyes, in many people. It’s much less likely for someone to develop a true sensitivity such as you report.
The word allergy derives from two Greek words meaning ‘other energy’. An allergic response is the reaction of the body to an invasion of foreign bodies (allergens) such as chemicals, particles, pollen, dust and so on. When living organisms such as bacteria enter the body, the white blood cells detect them and analyse their protein and develop antibodies to stop the bacteria multiplying or having a destructive effect When non-living things such as allergens enter the body, detective cells called lymphocytes identify the invaders, then produce protein antibodies called immunoglobulins, which attach themselves to defensive cells in the blood.
Some people react badly when there is repeated exposure or when large numbers of allergens enter the body. At the first exposure, the body gets ‘sensitised’ then on subsequent exposure to the same particles, the anxious immune system produces immunoglobulin, which stimulates the release of chemicals such as histamine and heparin. These produce an immediate local or general inflammatory effect. Other white blood cells rush to create a defensive barrier. Blood vessels dilate and fluid is produced so your eyes and nose run and you sneeze to try to eliminate the allergen. The fluid contains salt and chemicals, which irritate the nerve endings causing itchiness. Because there are numerous blood vessels in the muscles, these feel tired and achy too.
The body is trying to defend itself from what it perceives as an enemy invasion. Sometimes, an allergic reaction can be violent and potentially life-threatening( anaphylactic shock), where the airways swell and the heart can stop.
Allergic reactions are closely connected to the nervous and endocrine (hormone) systems. The hypothalamus is a tiny but very powerful part of the brain, which identifies all subtle changes in the body, including an invasion by allergens. It sends messages to the pituitary gland, also in the brain, to produce a hormone called ACTH, which stimulates the production of glucocorticoids, the main anti-inflammatory chemical in the body. The hypothalamus also interacts with the thymus gland in the chest cavity to develop lymphocytes.
Stress of any kind plays a role, because the hypothalamus and pituitary gland also help to stimulate stress hormones – so they can become overloaded and their function impaired by trying to do too much. This can be a major contributor to allergies, by weakening the immune system.
Conventional medicine uses antihistamines and steroids to suppress the inflammatory response. These can deal with the symptoms but not the underlying problem.
You cannot control the air you breathe, but you do have a say in the water you doing the food you eat and many of the other chemicals you expose yourself to. I advise you to avoid the swimming pool while you follow the programme below.
In general, avoid products of all kinds that are likely to cause an allergic reaction – by avoiding them you reduce the body’s reaction to other allergens. In particular, avoid eating yeast products, citrus fruits, shellfish, canned products, cheese and mushrooms. Also avoid smoking, and don’t use any cosmetic or hair products to which you may be sensitive.
Supplements: Soak one teaspoon of Dr Ali’s Detox Powder, which includes kadu, kariatu and neem, in a cup of hot water overnight. Strain and drink the water first thing in the morning. Do this for three months.
* Take one aloe vera capsule twice daily for three months to help the skin.
* Take one 15mg zinc tablet daily for two months to help the body deal with allergens.
Therapies: Contact Dr Ray Choy at the Nightingale Allergy Clinic for details of desensitization therapy, tel: 020 74362135.
* Homoeopathy and acupuncture can be very useful.
Massage: I use massage as an important therapy to combat allergies and food/chemical intolerances as well as stress. Details are shown on my Lifestyle DVD.