Adult stage deer ticks are the primary vectors for Lyme disease and become active every year after the first frost. They're not killed by freezing temperatures, and while other ticks enter a feeding diapause, or suspended development, as the day-lengths get shorter, deer ticks will be active any winter day that the ground is not snow-covered or frozen. For the winter of 2017, in Washington D.C. and many other typically snow covered areas, the risk of coming into contact with these nasty disease vectors has been much higher as this February holds the record for the warmest February in D.C. history.
Allergy Symptoms Started in February
Not only is the DC/VA/MD area a hot spot for Lyme transmission, it is also a hot spot for seasonal allergies. The unique mix of pollens likely coming from plants donated from other countries as well as Washington’s temperate climate and level of pollution makes it difficult for those who are prone to seasonal allergies to function during these changes in pollen counts. In its 2011 State of the Air report, based on data from 2007 to 2009, the American Lung Association gave Washington an "F" for ozone and a "D" for particle pollution in a 24-hour period. Among 277 metropolitan areas in the country, our region ranked 14th for high-ozone days and 33rd for 24-hour particle-pollution levels. The winter of 2017 has been a particularly challenging time as the warmer than usual temperatures have led to early pollen release. Allergy sufferers, aware or not, have faced early worsening of symptoms from sneezing and watery eyes to more ambiguous symptoms such as joint pain and fatigue. Often, the more ambiguous symptoms lead me to evaluate not only the possibility of allergies, but the possibility of Lyme Disease as well.
Allergies and Lyme Disease
Those who do contract Lyme disease often report that they have “never had allergies until this past year or so,” or report no allergy symptoms at all but blood tests reveal that they are highly reactive to many different allergens. When this happens, treating the infection can often clear up the allergic response. However, the opposite can happen as well. I have treated patients for Lyme but until the allergies are addressed, they do not see drastic improvement in their symptom picture. Lyme Disease and allergies both fall under the autoimmune blanket of illness so if both are involved, it can be difficult for the immune system to discern where the invader is and it begins to attack everything it can, including our own cells.
Patients with autoimmune conditions including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Lyme disease, allergies, and many other benefit from a personalized desensitization therapy. Oral immunotherapy is a safe, convenient, and very effective method of treating patients for allergies. Not only can this method permanently treat environmental and seasonal allergies, but also chemical and food allergies/sensitivities as well using a simple once per week oral dose.
Autumn Frandsen N.D. is a Naturopathic Physician at National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, serving Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. As a naturopath, her philosophy is to use the least invasive and effective method to bring balance to the body and restore health. Her areas of focus include Allergies, Environmental Medicine and Chemical Sensitivities, Homeopathy and Herbal Medicine, Heavy Metal Detoxification, Anti-Aging and Weight Loss.
She was recently featured in Natural Awakenings magazine for an article on Helping to Solve the Mystery of Food Allergies.