Staying Active and in Control Despite Their Allergies
Meet four people with allergies who combine medication, alternative therapies, and the right attitude to maintain control over their lives.
Liz Erk: Runner, Rower, Skater continued...
As she grew into adulthood, her passion for activity was often curtailed by
unpleasant allergy symptoms that made athletics and even socializing a
challenge. Instead of retreating indoors, though, she decided to tackle the
problem head on.
First came the allergy medication, which helped ease her difficulty with
breathing and relieve her asthma symptoms. Next, she turned to acupuncture,
which provided more relief. Soon she noticed a marked improvement. The only
exception was when the foliage changed each fall and spring.
She still had a problem with cats, but then ironically fell in love with a
kitten named Mia. A doctor told her to get rid of the furry feline, but she
refused. Then a friend gave her some encouraging advice: Making a kitten part
of your home, her friend said, might allow your system to develop immunity to
the allergens as the cat matures.
So she did it, and it worked -- perhaps too well, she chuckles. Erk now owns
10 cats and volunteers at a cat shelter in her spare time. She even upgraded to
a three-bedroom home specifically so her cats would have room to roam. An
activity that she once considered "virtual suicide" has now become an
integral part of her life and lifestyle. No more wheezing. Her eyes no longer
swell shut when she hears a "meow" and the cat nuzzles her. She even
credits fighting against her cat allergy with improving her social life. She no
longer shies away from visiting friends who have pets.
Meanwhile, Erk's found a new athletic passion. Two years ago, she learned
how to skate and started to play ice hockey. That’s brought back her inner
competitor. "For my level, I'm pretty fast," Erk says. "And it's
all because I have the stamina for it."
Fighting back against the irritants that caused her such grief has altered
Erk's life both mentally and physically. "My life is completely
different," she says. "Tackling my allergens head on made a total
difference for me. I'm in the best shape of my life."
Fred Coe: Keeping Allergies Off the Court
Fred Coe spent part of the fifth grade encased in plastic. Having had asthma
from the time he was very young, Coe developed double pneumonia. It was so
severe that he was placed in an oxygen tent. He didn’t return to school until
his sixth grade class had already begun.
Coe’s list of allergic substances – both indoors and out -- contains all the
typical culprits: dander, dust, pollen, and other airborne allergens.
Sauerkraut is another trigger, but he admits it’s one that isn’t quite as
challenging to avoid.
Despite spending an entire winter of his life without leaving his home, Coe
is now determined to make his allergies an annoyance rather than a crippling