Spring and summer bring warm weather and sunny days. Unfortunately, for allergy sufferers, these days are often accompanied by pollens, molds and other things that cause environmental allergies known as hay fever. Doctors often recommend taking an antihistamine (of which there are many), but sometimes that is not enough. Also, people with less severe allergies might find they can use natural methods to get allergy relief and not need antihistamines at all.
Here are some suggestions to try for environmental allergy relief.
Control Your Environment
As the weather warms, many people enjoy opening their windows and allowing the breeze to blow through their homes. Some people like to have a window fan blowing into their bedrooms at night. During your particular peak allergy season, this is a bad idea. Having a window fan blowing in greatly increases the amount of pollen that is brought into your home, leading to a greater allergy load on your body and increased reactions. The same is true of riding in your vehicle with the windows open. If the things you are allergic to are pollinating at that time, you are asking for a reaction.
If possible, use an air conditioner in your home. If you don’t have an air conditioner, you can open windows during periods of time when there is less pollen in the air and close them during the times of day when pollen is at its highest. Most plants release their pollen in the early morning hours, roughly between 5AM and 10AM. While not the greatest option, this will reduce your exposure to pollen in your home. Use fans around your home to circulate air, but not in the window blowing in, if you can help it.
An air purifier in the bedroom can be a great addition to help you reduce the pollen in your sleeping area and help you to get quality sleep. Look for one without an ionizer, as these can irritate some people’s lungs—the jury is still out as to whether ionizers help with allergies or if they cause long-term damage to health. Also, look for one that will circulate the air in your room, as not all of them do this well.
It is a good idea to vacuum often. A true HEPA filter is needed to trap the pollen, rather than blow it all over again.
Change your bedding at least once a week. If your windows are open, pollen builds up over time and you get a concentrated dose when you are trying to sleep (not to mention dust mites and dander, two common allergens).
Shower before bed if you or your spouse has spent time outdoors. This will help keep the pollen out of your bedroom and your allergy load light.
Check Out Your Diet
Oral Allergy Syndrome is a condition that has fairly recently come to light in relation to environmental allergies. OAS occurs when the body mistakes the proteins from food you eat to be the same as the proteins from pollens you are allergic to, creating a similar allergic response. Science has shown that, indeed, the proteins of certain foods should be avoided by allergy sufferers with this condition, especially during peak allergy season. Identifying and avoiding the foods that pertain to you should help to lessen the severity and number of reactions.
Foods to avoid vary by what your allergy is, but for ragweed allergy sufferers, the main foods to avoid during ragweed season are: bananas, melons (all), cucumbers, and squash. Do an Internet search and find out which foods apply to your particular allergies.
Water Treatment: Flush Your Sinuses And Drink Enough Water
The Neti Pot has been around for decades, and is still a helpful tool for those suffering from nasal and sinus symptoms. A related product is the Neilmed Rinse Kit. There are other similar products out there, and their main purpose is to flush the pollens and excess mucus out of the nasal passages and sinus cavity, allowing for more normal function.
When the sinuses are rinsed, this lessens the pollen load, thus helping the body to feel better and have less allergic reactions. Make sure to use either the commercial saline solution, or make your own from boiled or distilled water. Warm it to body temperature and add salt if making your own solution (about ¼ teaspoon non-iodized or sea salt per cup of water). Decide which nostril to start with, place the opening of the pot at that nostril, tip your head the opposite direction and over a sink, and allow the water to flow into your nostril and out the other nostril. Experiment with exactly how you need to tilt your head to encourage flow; it’s slightly different for each person. If the water comes out through your mouth, it helps to hold your tongue as if you are saying the “k” sound and tipping your head a bit more forward; this encourages the water to go through to the other side of your sinus cavity rather than through your mouth.
Drinking enough water will help your body to function at its optimal level. It will help to thin mucus and alleviate some of the allergic nasal and upper-respiratory symptoms. When the body does not have enough water, the body is overall stressed, making you more miserable. In other words, a well-hydrated body is a healthier body. Drink up!
Options abound for natural remedies for hay fever, but most work best when started about three weeks prior to the expected allergy season. Even if you are already into the allergy season, it might not hurt to try one or more of these remedies, keeping in mind that it might take about three weeks to have a good effect on your allergies. If you are on medication or have severe allergies, check with your doctor before changing your regimen.
Honey: Honey is made by bees that fly from plant to plant, and pollen is present in the finished product. A tablespoon or so a day of raw (unfiltered), local honey is said to have a vaccine-like effect on the body. The small amount of pollen in the honey helps to desensitize the body to the pollens, thereby lessening the effect of the pollen on the body later in the season. If you have severe allergies, use caution, as the extra pollen might make your allergies worse.
Omega 3s: We have all heard that few people get enough omega 3s into their diet. Omega 3s help to reduce inflammation in the body, a plus when you are talking about allergies. Eat more fish high in Omega 3s, walnuts, and flax, or try taking around 1200 mg of fish oil/day. There are many options of fish oil products to take, many of which leave very little to no aftertaste or fishy burps later. I personally find that if I eat a green salad after taking my fish oil supplement, I am not reminded later that I have taken my fish oil.
Stinging Nettles: According to one study, a dosage of 300 mg/day of stinging nettles helped to lessen symptoms of hay fever. Stinging nettles can also be used for acute hay fever reactions, with a dosage of two 300mg capsules when the reaction starts. Look for a standardized product for best results. Be aware that stinging nettles may lower blood sugar and blood pressure, so keep that in mind if you are on any medication(s) involving these issues.
Butterbur: A recent Swiss study published in the British Journal of Medicine showed that a dosage of 32mg/day, divided into four doses throughout the day (a standardized 8mg of petasin per dose), worked as well as cetirizine (Zyrtec). Butterbur had this effect on allergies without making people drowsy or causing dry mouth. Look for a standardized product for best results, and a product free of pyrrolizine alkaloids, which can be toxic to the liver. High doses (over 50 mg taken three times/day) are known to cause nausea, so don’t overdo it!
Quercetin and Vitamin C: These are often available in a blend to help aid in allergy care, as they have been shown to work well together.
Quercetin: works by helping to calm the mast cells in the body that are responsible for starting an allergic reaction. Grapes, onions, apples, and black and green tea are just a few foods where quercetin can be found and consumed in the natural form. If you prefer to take quercetin in supplement form, dosage ranges from 250 to 600 mg, taken before meals.
Vitamin C is a supplement that is often touted as helping to aid the immune system in functioning normally. Because it also helps to moderate inflammation, vitamin C fits well with the above supplement. Too much can cause diarrhea, as your body flushes the excess vitamin C out of your system; if this happens, back off on your dosage of vitamin C.
There are many options for the allergy sufferer to try in preventing and alleviating allergies. Controlling one’s environment, preparing your body by starting early with supplements, and trying different supplements to find out what works best with your body are proactive ways that should help you to have better health. I hope you are able to find a solution that works for you so that you can enjoy the warmer months of the year.
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Disclaimer: This article is meant to be a general sharing of information as to what might be used to treat your environmental allergies. Do not use them without doing further research if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. As always, consult a doctor before changing or adding to your prescription regimen and for assistance for dosages specific to your needs. Be responsible with your own health!
©2012 Off the Grid News