Unfortunately, fall allergies are rarely discussed. A tragic story has prompted a lot of articles about “Asthma Peak Week,”1which is the third week in September. Laura Levis, a vibrant, young woman, died after suffering a sudden asthma attack during Asthma Peak Week. During the third week of September, the allergenic load becomes so high that it can trigger spontaneous asthma attacks in asthma sufferers. Sadly, this information has not been made widely known to the general public until now.
Asthma/Allergy Triggers that Peak the Third Week of September
Ragweed pollen (seventeen different species)2
Cold/flu season begins (especially for school children and teachers)
Dust mites, pet dander, and cockroaches are also common contributors to allergies and allergic asthma.6
What's an Allergenic Load?
The allergenic load is “an individual's total allergic or chemical burden from exposure. Also called allergen load.”7 In other words, a person's “load” or burden of different types of allergens can become so heavy that the system becomes overloaded, and an allergic reaction can ensue (which can manifest in different ways).8 In some asthmatics, this reaction can be extremely dangerous, and even deadly.
Food Sensitivities Can Contribute to the Allergenic Load
Many people do not realize that food sensitivities can also contribute to one's allergenic load.9 When tested for food sensitivities, some of my patients have been quite surprised when they showed a medium or high reaction to a certain a food or foods they'd eaten for years. It's common knowledge that some people who are allergic to certain foods, (e.g., peanuts) must carry an Epipen and exercise extreme caution at all times to avoid the food to which they're allergic, or risk a medical emergency or even death. However, MANY people have food sensitivities (also known as food intolerances)10 of which they're unaware that cause an ongoing low-grade inflammation-allergenic burden. For instance, a patient of mine who had eaten eggs nearly every day of her life discovered, after food sensitivity testing, that she had a very high reaction to eggs! She then realized that must have been the reason she'd always felt ill in the mornings, but for years thought it was “just normal” for her. She's no longer eating eggs and feels much better in the mornings!
What You Can Do to Reduce Your Allergenic Load
If you have asthma, by all means, avoid exerting yourself (especially outdoors) during and around the third week of September. Stay inside as much as possible, and keep inhalers handy.
*I do The KBMO FIT test which is a very specific food sensitivity test. It not only tests for food sensitivities but for something called “complement,” which really is the endpoint of any food sensitivity that is causing inflammation in the body. Therefore, the test is much more specific, and you end up with fewer foods to avoid—only avoiding those foods that actually cause inflammation, and not foods that cause antibodies.**Please discuss any dietary supplement you take or wish to take with your physician. Dietary supplements can react with prescription medications as well as with one another.
The Doctor Emi Team
1. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. September Asthma Epidemic. https://community.aafa.org/blog/september-asthma-epidemic
2. Ragweed Pollen Allergy. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. https://www.aafa.org/ragweed-pollen/
3. Mold Allergy. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. https://www.aafa.org/mold-allergy/
4. Dan DeRoos. September 24, 2019. Doctors in Northeast Ohio warning asthma sufferers of 'Peak Week' after husband's plea. https://www.cleveland19.com/2019/09/24/doctors-northest-ohio-warning-asthma-sufferers-peak-week-after-husbands-plea/
5. Christina Oehler. What Are Asthma Peak Week Allergies, And Why Are They So Dangerous? September 25, 2019. https://www.health.com/allergy/peak-week-allergies-asthma
6. Allergens and Allergic Asthma. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
7.Allergenic Load. (n.d.) Jonas: Mosby's Dictionary of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2005). Retrieved September 26 2019, from: https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/allergenic+load
8. ALLERGIC REACTIONS. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
9. Mayo Clinic Staff. James T C Li, M.D., Ph.D. Allergies and asthma: They often occur together. Nov. 06, 2018
10. Healthline.com Food Allergy vs. Sensitivity: What’s the Difference?
11. NATIONAL ALLERGY BUREAU - POLLEN COUNT STATIONS. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. https://www.aaaai.org/global/nab-pollen-counts?ipb=1