Allergic Rhinitis Vitamin D

Allergic Rhinitis Vitamin D

Dr. Rebecca Butler is Board Certified in Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is proud to be a resident of Lantana and the owner of Lantana Pediatrics. For more information on Lantana Pediatrics, Dr. Butler and/or Melanie Bitzer, CPNP or to schedule an appointment with one of these providers, call the office at 940.455.7200.

Allergic rhinitis (AR) is one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adults. It is characterized by the symptoms of nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, sneezing, ear and nasal itching, and watery itchy eyes. AR can have a significant influence on quality of life. I personally see children that have poor focus, trouble with school performance, and some disciplinary problems secondary to poorly controlled AR.

Allergic rhinits is an immunologic reaction and the prevalence of the disease has increased during the last few decades. The exact cause of AR has not been clearly identified, but it is known that genetic, and environmental factors play an important role in the development of the disease. Treatment options consist of drugs like anti-histamines, intranasal corticosteroids, decongestants, and most recently immunotherapy (allergy shots).

I frequently get questions from frustrated parents regarding options for diagnosing and treating their children especially when they feel they have exhausted all of the usual treatment options. Allergy testing to identify triggers and offending agents is a good first step and often provides some directions to avoidance of specific allergens. Immunotherapy is the best option, at this time, for ‘curing’ allergies. It is important to know that new allergies may develop at any age, so maintaining regular testing and treatment is vital to maintaining symptom reduction.

There is evidence that sufficient Vitamin D is very important in our immune function and has an effect on both innate and adaptive immunity. It helps to modulate, regulate, activate, and inhibit certain pathways of our immune system. Low Vitamin D levels may have a major impact on the outcome of allergic illnesses in both adults and children. So get outside, eat vitamin D rich foods, take a Vitamin D supplement if necessary, and talk with your doctor.

The association between low serum vitamin D levels and an increase in immune disorders is not coincidental. Current lifestyles have led people to spend more time indoors, leading to less sun exposure and therefore less vitamin D production by our bodies. Several studies have investigated the role of vitamin D in the treatment of allergic diseases; however the results are still controversial. There is good evidence suggesting that correcting a true Vitamin D deficiency can prevent AR occurrence, reduce severity of disease, and thus improve quality of life.

In AR, exposure to allergens like dust mites, cockroach residues, animal dander, molds, and pollen may cause certain immune cells to infiltrate the nasal lining. Then a further cellular inflammatory response occurs over the next 4-8 hours resulting in symptoms. Vitamin D aids in adaptive immunity in a way that inhibits many pro-inflammatory functions of our immune response to these allergens.

Unfortunately there are very few studies that have been done on pediatric patients to assess a direct correlation between AR and vitamin D deficiency, but it is important to evaluate for a deficiency in very allergic children. The hope is that further studies and advancements in science and medicine find a solid and direct correlation and, in turn, another treatment option for all of those who suffer from allergic rhinitis.

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