Breathing through Allergies with Hyperbarics
An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system perceives a substance on or within the body as a threat. An allergen can be environmental or man-made and can come into contact with the immune system via direct contact with the skin, inhalation, ingestion or injection. Common allergens include some foods, mold, pollen, venom, pet dander, toxic chemicals, pollution and much more. Some patients are born with the potential to be allergic to substances while others develop their allergies throughout their lifetimes. These variances are mostly due to genetics and the body’s ability to turn select genes on or off in response to their environment and nutritional input.
When an allergen comes into contact with the body, an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE) is released. These antibodies bind onto immune cells called mast cells and basophils, which causes them to degranulate and break down. When mast cells and basophils break down, over 30 chemicals (mainly histamine) are released that lead to allergy symptoms. As histamine spreads over the site of the allergic reaction, itching and swelling occurs. Other chemicals call for more release of IgE, creating a cascade of further symptoms. Mild to moderate symptoms of an allergic reaction include skin irritation, redness and pain in the eyes, increased pressure on sinuses, runny nose, and swollen throat and lungs.
In severe cases of allergies, histamine is released uncontrollably. Patients with severe food allergies may experience a completely cut off of oxygen to the lungs due to the swelling. These cases can quickly lead to brain damage or death if emergency protocols aren’t introduced immediately. Epinephrine is the most common drug used to stop the allergic reaction and reduce swelling in order for the patient to breathe again. For less severe allergic reactions, anti-histamines are used to reduce swelling and subsequent symptoms.
Hyperbaric therapy has been a popular modality for all types of allergies including seasonal, mold, and toxic chemical reactions. The combination of increased pressure and oxygen may help alleviate many symptoms triggered by the inflammatory process during an allergic reaction. Many patients have reported a reduction in sinus pressure, swelling in lungs and other affected areas, brain fog, pain, redness, and itchiness. Hyperbarics has also been shown to help direct toxins, including histamine and mycotoxins, out of tissues towards detoxification pathways for elimination. Anecdotal evidence has claimed that long-term use of hyperbaric therapy may eliminate seasonal allergies completely for some patients. The mechanism of action in allergic predisposition may stem from HBOT affecting up to 8,101 genetic expressions. If genes that express an overactive immune response are downregulated, the patient may be able to fight off exposures without the cascade of inflammatory effects and symptoms.