WELL BEING: Seasonal Allergies

25 Apr

Eyes red? Throat burning? Uncontrollable sneezing?

It’s that time of year when folks get “Spring Fever”, literally. Here in Texas, between the Pine trees and Red Cedar pollens, ragweed and mold spores, it’s no surprise when our immune systems go haywire trying to keep up with all the allergens.

It’s estimated that over 50 million Americans suffer from respiratory difficulties and sinus problems related to seasonal allergies.

Having an allergy attack is the body’s natural response to inhaling normally harmless but allergenic foreign particles. The foreign substances aren’t always dangerous to us but the discomfort arises when our immune system over-reacts to histamine, which the body releases to protect itself against the pollen, dust and mold spores all around us.

The good new is, if you’re experiencing allergies, your immune system is working hard to protect you. 

In my experience, there is no “one size fits all” remedy for everyone with seasonal allergies. What may alleviate illness in one person may not help another at all. Each person comes with their own physical strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important we honor that individuality. 

Besides medications, antibiotics and allergy shots, there are plenty of options to soothe the effects of allergy season. Don’t forget check with your doctor before trying any of the suggested remedies. 

Here are 10 helpful hints that may soothe your seasonal allergies. 

1. Vitamin C
 
Since your immune system is working so diligently to protect you from allergens, it only makes sense to boost your immunity. Vitamin C is an antioxidant with powerful anti-histamine properties which detoxify foreign substances in the body. Vitamin C supplements are readily available at your local health food store and pharmacy. 

Also, build your immunity by enjoying Vitamin C packed fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, kiwi fruit, citrus fruit, brocoli and sweet potatoes. 

2. Over-the-Counter Medicine
 
There are countless anti-histamine medications and immune boosting supplies found over-the-counter at your local pharmacy. In addition to saline solution to cleanse the sinus passages, there are also cough syrups and vitamin infused lozenges. 

There could be some negative interactions with other medications you are taking, so be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new medications or treatments. 

3. Tea
 
A warm cup of tea is especially soothing when you’re suffering from sinus pain. Peppermint tea is the most commonly suggested tea for allergy sufferers. Peppermint gently decongests and the warmth of the tea eases and opens respiratory passageways. 

Chamomile tea is calming and has been shown to help some people sleep better. Chamomile may come in handy in the evening to alleviate the stress of having to breathe through your mouth, as well as aiding in a better nights sleep. 

4. Essential Oils 
 
Just as Peppermint and Chamomile teas are highly effective for decongesting and calming the effects of seasonal allergies, so are their essential oils. Putting a few drops of these essential oils on a cloth and inhaling gently may be as relieving as drinking their teas.
 
5. Warm Compress 
 
Teas and essential oils may also be used to make warm compresses for your sensitive headache and sinus pain. 

Soak a cloth in warm Peppermint tea, Chamomile tea or Ginseng infused water then compress across the forehead or over the cheekbones for soothing relief. 

6. Honey
 
Consuming local honey is an effective remedy for local allergies as honey has anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. 

For seasonal allergy attacks, you may take honey as a cough syrup or make a restorative drink by blending a tablespoon each of honey and apple cider vinegar into a glass of water. 

NOTE:  Anyone who experiences sugar imbalances or sugar sensitivity will need to consult their physician before consuming honey.

7. Traditional Chinese Medicine

T.C.M. practitioners suggest that everyone get a seasonal tune-up Acupuncture appointment to align the body with the changing weather patterns and attune our immune systems to the stressors of each season. It’s also a good idea to take a few short walks outside as the seasons change so as to attune the body to natural changes in our surroundings.

8. HEPA Filter

An air cleaner with a HEPA filter traps allergens, so they are not released back into the air and re-circulated throughout your home. Placing an air cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter into the room you spend most of your time in significantly decreases the allergens in the air. Purchasing several air cleaner units to be placed in the different rooms of your home and office is ideal but if your budget is limited, purchase one for your bedroom so you can rest in a clean air environment. 

Some vacuum cleaners come complete with HEPA Filter. Using a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner regularly reduces your daily exposure to dust mites, pollens and dander.

9. Home Remedies

Home remedies are passed down from generation to generation.  They don’t always make a lot of sense or have any hard evidence to back them up but if Grandma suggests something, I trust her. 

Grandma’s chicken soup may be all the home remedy you need to relieve your sinus congestion. I would also take it on good authority if she tells you that your allergies will be relieved by wearing wool socks, by rubbing Mentholatum on your chest under your favorite old plaid shirt or by soaking your feet in a warm epsom salt bath.

10. Common Sense

Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Enjoy spicy foods to naturally decongest blocked nasal passages. If hot and spicy foods are not congruent with your palate then try a warm drink for sinus relief. Stay indoors during the height of pollen production when the pollen count is at its highest. It’s helpful to shower in the evening, making sure to get all pollens and microbial matter off your skin so allergens don’t transfer to your sleep area.

By taking this common sense approach, you are ensuring the most clean and relaxing environment for a good nights sleep so you can be well rested and allow your immune system to recover.

The information in this column is not intended as medical advice. Its intention is solely informational and educational.

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