Dr. Sanjiv Sur
Spring welcomes warm weather and sun, but it also is the height of allergy season. Dr. Sanjiv Sur, an allergist at Baylor College of Medicine, explains the importance of managing seasonal allergy symptoms and the best methods to combat them this year.
Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever caused by airborne pollen, is a significant issue in the U.S., Sur said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it affected almost 20 million people over 18 years old in the United States last year. Unfortunately, many people try to suffer through with no treatment, he said.
“When you leave your allergies untreated it may cause presenteeism, or working while sick, which is characterized by daytime drowsiness where people can become spacy,” said Sur, senior faculty in immunology, allergy and rheumatology at Baylor. “People will show up to work but may not be able to focus and perform as effectively as usual, and all it requires is starting over-the-counter medications if you are unable to see a doctor.”
The most common symptoms of allergic rhinitis include congestion, sneezing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. The most common ways to treat allergies are using over-the-counter intranasal steroids, oral antihistamines or allergen immunotherapy, Sur said. However, he said the best method is the intranasal steroids, such as a fluticasone or budesonide nasal spray that can be found at any local drug store.
“The intranasal steroids (nasal sprays) across the board work on all nasal symptoms, whereas antihistamines and leukotriene antagonists, which are also used for asthma, are very specific for runny nose and sneezing,” he said.
While nasal steroid sprays relieve congestion and itchiness in the nose, they are not as effective for itchy eyes. Sur recommends taking a non-drowsy oral antihistamine like cetirizine or fexofenadine, and highly discourages drowsy allergy medications.
If symptoms continue after using steroid nasal sprays, Sur recommends visiting a doctor for allergen immunotherapy. He explains that there are two kinds of immunotherapy – subcutaneous immunotherapy and sublingual immunotherapy to reprogram and improve your body’s ability to tolerate environmental allergens without causing allergy symptoms.
While allergies are irritating, they can also affect sleep quality, work performance and overall health. Sur emphasized the importance of reminding friends, family and colleagues that there are simple ways to treat their symptoms. “If someone is sneezing and suffering, and nothing is done it can be a huge cost,” he said. “You have to be proactive and point out to others that there are really inexpensive over-the-counter medications available.”
- 15 Home Remedies for Allergies
- Jenny’s Journey
- A Quick Guide to Allergy Relief
- Allergic Rhinitis
- 10 Natural Ways to Defeat Seasonal Allergies
- What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
- 9 ways to beat seasonal allergies without medication
15 Home Remedies for Allergies
Saline nasal irrigation
A 2012 review of 10 studies showed that saline nasal irrigation had beneficial effects for both children and adults with allergic rhinitis, which is often referred to as hay fever.
By trapping airborne irritants such as pollen, dust, and pet dander, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters reduce allergens in your home.
In a 2003 review, butterbur — also known as Petasites hybridus — was found to be equally effective for itchy eyes as a commonly used oral antihistamine.
Bromelain is an enzyme found in papaya and pineapple. Natural healers consider bromelain to be effective at improving breathing by reducing swelling.
A 2015 review of 13 studies concluded that acupuncture demonstrated positive results for both seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis.
A 2015 review of 23 studies indicated that probiotics may help improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Although there’s no scientific evidence to prove it, a popular theory suggests eating locally produced honey. According to the theory, you will lower your allergic reaction over time to the pollen that the bees collect in your area to make their honey.
Air conditioners and dehumidifiers
By removing moisture from the air, air conditioners and dehumidifiers can limit the growth of mildew and mold that can negatively impact allergies.
A 2015 study indicated that dietary spirulina — a blue-green algae — demonstrated antiallergic protective effects towards allergic rhinitis.
Natural healing practitioners suggest stinging nettle as a natural antihistamine to help with allergy treatment.
Quercetin is a favorite of natural healing advocates who believe that it stabilizes the release of histamines and helps to control allergy symptoms. It’s naturally found in broccoli, cauliflower, green tea, and citrus fruits.
Practitioners of natural medication suggest taking 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily to reduce histamine levels.
Peppermint essential oil
A 1998 study showed that peppermint oil treatment had enough anti-inflammatory effects that reduced the symptoms of bronchial asthma and allergic rhinitis to warrant clinical trials. Essential oils can be diffused into the air but should be diluted in a carrier oil if applied topically.
Eucalyptus essential oil
Advocates of natural healing suggest using eucalyptus oil as an antimicrobial agent by adding it to each load of wash during allergy season.
Frankincense essential oil
Based on the results of a 2016 study, frankincense oil may help against perennial allergic rhinitis. You can dilute it in a carrier oil and use behind your ears or use inhalation by diffusing it into the air.
Emergency Treatment of Severe Allergic Reactions
Most people with allergies experience mild to moderate symptoms — a runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes or rash.
However, anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that requires emergency treatment. (And beware: People with mild symptoms can develop more severe reactions in their lifetime.)
Most commonly associated with allergies to food, insect stings, medications and latex, anaphylaxis involves an over-release of chemicals that puts the body in shock.
Symptoms occur suddenly and progress quickly — from mild symptoms such as a runny nose and skin rash, to a strange feeling, to serious health problems such as difficulty breathing, throat swelling, vomiting, dizziness and fainting, low blood pressure and even cardiac arrest.
In the event of a severe allergic reaction:
- Call 911 immediately.
- Check the victim’s airway, breathing and circulation.
- Keep the person calm.
- Elevate the person’s feet about 12 inches, cover with a blanket and place nothing under his head.
- If necessary, perform rescue breathing and CPR.
Emergency personnel will administer epinephrine immediately to stop the anaphylactic reaction.
If you have had an anaphylactic reaction in the past, you are at risk of future reactions. Your doctor can prescribe emergency epinephrine (EpiPen®) to carry with you for emergencies.
Avoid Exposure to Allergens
Whether you have severe or milder allergic reactions, knowing what triggers your allergies is important so you can avoid them. Avoidance is the most effective way to prevent any allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis. Develop an avoidance plan with your doctor that’s customized to your age, lifestyle and home environment.
Carefully read food labels and labels of other products that could contain allergens. And be aware that fragrances and dyes can irritate your skin.
Source: Premier Health; Healthline.com; College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
A Quick Guide to Allergy Relief
How do you find out whether you’re allergic and what you’re allergic to?
A seasonal allergy can feel like a cold, with symptoms such as chronic congestion, a runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes. But allergies produce a thinner nasal discharge, won’t prompt a fever, are 14 times more likely than colds to trigger a migraine headache, and tend to last longer. If you’ve been sniffling for weeks on end, it’s probably time to get tested.
Luckily, that part is simple. The skin-prick test is the most common. A doctor introduces a number of allergens, sometimes as many as 60, by quickly pricking the patient’s arm or back. If redness, itching, or swelling occurs within 15 minutes, there’s an allergy match. “The process is so superficial, it’s quite painless,” says Cox. Alternatively, or if that test is inconclusive, a doctor might try a more sensitive intradermal shot, which injects allergens deeper below the skin.
What are the most effective treatments available?
Don’t be stoic. It’s important to seek relief from your symptoms, because without treatment, allergies may worsen over time. Allergic reactions can spread deep into the lungs, putting you at an increased risk for asthma. In fact, up to 40 percent of long-term allergy sufferers also have asthma. Another 40 percent will develop sinusitis, an infection of the sinuses.
For mild to moderate allergies, drugs―some prescription, some over-the-counter―are usually enough. All work similarly, by trying to stop a reaction in its tracks. “The earlier you hit the medicine cabinet, the better your results,” says Daniel Ein, an allergist at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. You might want to take something before going outside, or consistently treat yourself before the start of the season.
They prevent cells in the body from releasing histamines, which trigger the coldlike symptoms. Oral over-the-counter options are often combined with a decongestant (generally tagged with a D) for more relief.
Pros: Treat throat and nasal itching, watery eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing. Newer brands, like Claritin and Allegra, claim not to cause drowsiness.
Cons: Alone, they won’t help congestion or inflammation. Some brands can cause drowsiness.
- Nasal Corticosteroids
Stronger than antihistamines, these prescription sprays, like Flonase, block inflammation and have been shown in some clinical studies to be the most effective remedy for allergy symptoms. (An oral version is available for extreme cases.)
Pros: Very effective at treating congestion.
Cons: May take a week or so to bring noticeable improvement. There’s also a higher risk of mild side effects―including nosebleeds, irritation, and a burning sensation―than with other allergy medications.
Nonprescription and fast acting, decongestants are available orally or as a nasal spray. They work by constricting blood vessels, which in turn reduces the amount of fluid leaked from the nose.
Pros: Instant relief from congestion.
Cons: Duration is temporary. While the nasal sprays, such as Afrin, act faster than oral alternatives, like Sudafed, most doctors discourage their use for more than three or four days because of their strong “rebound effect.” Basically, once you start, you’ll need more and more to get the same relief. Long-term use can produce chemical burns inside the nose.
Want a natural remedy for your stuffy, runny, itchy nose? Natural treatments can’t replace your allergy medications, but they can work alongside them. From acupuncture to supplements, here are some simple things that might help you breathe easier.
Acupuncture. In this ancient Chinese therapy, an expert sticks tiny needles gently — and, many people say, painlessly — into your skin at specific points. Studies of acupuncture for the treatment of allergies have shown mixed results, with the most rigorous studies showing very modest clinical benefit. Acupuncture may be a reasonable option for interested patients with relatively mild disease who wish to minimize medication use and find the cost of therapy acceptable.
Allergy-proofing your home. You can’t stop pollen from blowing outside. But you do have some control over what happens inside your home. Keep your windows shut when pollen is in the air. Run the air conditioning instead. If you can, change your clothes before coming inside (or as soon as you get in), remove your shoes, and shower.
HEPA filters. Studies are mixed about whether air filters help with allergy symptoms. That’s because far more allergens rest on surfaces like rugs, furniture, and countertops than simply hang in the air. So cleaning is an important step in controlling your allergy and asthma triggers. If you buy an air filter, make sure it’s a HEPA filter. These capture fine, pollen-sized particles. It’s a good idea to get a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, too. Regular vacuums can blow allergens back into the air.
Nasal washes. You could use a saline solution (salt water) in a neti pot or a squeeze bottle to rinse out your sinuses. Use distilled or sterile water. If you use tap water, you must boil it and let it cool off first, or filter it with a filter that says “NSF 53” or “NSF 58” or says “absolute pore size” of 1 micron or smaller. Clean the bottle or neti pot after every use, also using distilled, sterile, boiled, or filtered water.
Protection. If it’s allergy season, keep your triggers at bay. Don’t do outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. Most pollen peaks between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. each day, and can also be high around midday when it’s warm and windy. And anytime you garden or clean the garage, wear a dust mask and sunglasses to keep allergens out of your nose, mouth, and eyes.
With all the flowers and trees blooming this spring and summer, seasonal allergies are at their peak as well. Whether you experience allergic symptoms every year around this time, or if this is your first year, you already know they can be quite a nuisance!
Trees, weeds, grasses, or blooming flowers can release pollen into the air, which in turn can cause hay fever. Hay fever or allergic rhinitis are fancy terms for your typical seasonal allergy symptoms.
Most of the time you can save yourself a visit to your doctor’s office (and the co-pay that goes with it) by treating your symptoms with one of the many different medications that are now available over-the-counter without a prescription.
If you are unsure of which medication to use, asking your pharmacist can help narrow your choices down. However, it’s important to let your pharmacist know some important information so that they can suggest the best over-the-counter treatment for you:
- Any allergies
- A list of medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, minerals, herbs, and samples from your doctor
- What medications you have already tried (if any)
What types of medications are used for seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergy medications come in many forms, including:
- Oral tablets, capsules, liquids
- Nasal sprays
- Throat sprays
- Eye drops
What classes of medications are available OTC to treat seasonal allergies?
Most over-the-counter medications treat different allergy symptoms, like runny nose, itchiness, or cough. Some categories include:
- Cough suppressants
- Nasal steroids
Still a little lost? Here’s a quick overview of the basic OTC allergy meds.
Antihistamines are a great go-to medication to alleviate many of the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies—particularly sneezing, runny nose, nasal drainage, and itchiness. Antihistamines work by drying up excess bodily secretions and blocking histamine, a natural substance released by the body during allergic reactions.
Some OTC antihistamines include:
- Claritin (loratadine)
- Zyrtec (cetirizine)
- Allegra (fexofenadine)
- Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
Decongestants are used to relieve nasal congestion, as well as the pressure and pain you may feel in your head or sinuses from seasonal allergies. Decongestants work by narrowing the blood vessels that are causing nasal congestion which results in the usual flow of air allowing a person to breathe normally.
Some OTC decongestants include:
- Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)
- Sudafed PE (phenylephrine)
- Afrin (oxymetazoline)
Decongestants may also be available in combination with antihistamines in medications like Allegra-D (fexofenadine/pseudoephedrine) or Claritin-D (loratadine/pseudoephedrine).
Cough suppressants are best used to alleviate a dry, non-productive, nagging cough that tends to linger. They work to control your cough by blocking the cough reflex. Delsym (dextromethorphan) is a common example.
Expectorants are used for chest congestion associated with a productive cough containing mucus. They work by thinning and loosening the mucus that causes chest congestion. Mucinex (guaifenesin) is a common example.
Nasal steroids can be used to treat not only the nasal congestion associated with seasonal allergies, but one in particular, Flonase Allergy Relief, is also approved to ease runny and itchy nose, sneezing, and watery and itchy eyes. Nasal steroids work by decreasing inflammation to help relieve nasal congestion.
The nasal steroids currently available OTC are:
- Flonase Allergy Relief
- Nasacort Allergy 24HR
The first approach in managing seasonal or perennial forms of hay fever should be to avoid the allergens that trigger symptoms.
- Stay indoors as much as possible when pollen counts are at their peak, usually during the midmorning and early evening (this may vary according to plant pollen), and when wind is blowing pollens around.
- Avoid using window fans that can draw pollens and molds into the house.
- Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to minimize the amount of pollen getting into your eyes.
- Wear a pollen mask (such as a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask) when mowing the lawn, raking leaves or gardening, and take appropriate medication beforehand.
- Don’t hang clothing outdoors to dry; pollen may cling to towels and sheets.
- Try not to rub your eyes; doing so will irritate them and could make your symptoms worse.
- Keep windows closed, and use air conditioning in your car and home. Make sure to keep your air conditioning unit clean.
- Reduce exposure to dust mites, especially in the bedroom. Use “mite-proof” covers for pillows, comforters and duvets, and mattresses and box springs. Wash your bedding frequently, using hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit).
- To limit exposure to mold, keep the humidity in your home low (between 30 and 50 percent) and clean your bathrooms, kitchen and basement regularly. Use a dehumidifier, especially in the basement and in other damp, humid places, and empty and clean it often. If mold is visible, clean it with mild detergent and a 5 percent bleach solution as directed by an allergist.
- Clean floors with a damp rag or mop, rather than dry-dusting or sweeping.
Exposure to pets
- Wash your hands immediately after petting any animals; wash your clothes after visiting friends with pets.
- If you are allergic to a household pet, keep the animal out of your home as much as possible. If the pet must be inside, keep it out of the bedroom so you are not exposed to animal allergens while you sleep.
- Close the air ducts to your bedroom if you have forced-air or central heating or cooling. Replace carpeting with hardwood, tile or linoleum, all of which are easier to keep dander-free.
Many allergens that trigger allergic rhinitis are airborne, so you can’t always avoid them. If your symptoms can’t be well-controlled by simply avoiding triggers, your allergist may recommend medications that reduce nasal congestion, sneezing, and an itchy and runny nose. They are available in many forms — oral tablets, liquid medication, nasal sprays and eyedrops. Some medications may have side effects, so discuss these treatments with your allergist so they can help you live the life you want.
Intranasal corticosteroids are the single most effective drug class for treating allergic rhinitis. They can significantly reduce nasal congestion as well as sneezing, itching and a runny nose.
Ask your allergist about whether these medications are appropriate and safe for you. These sprays are designed to avoid the side effects that may occur from steroids that are taken by mouth or injection. Take care not to spray the medication against the center portion of the nose (the nasal septum). The most common side effects are local irritation and nasal bleeding. Some older preparations have been shown to have some effect on children’s growth; data about some newer steroids don’t indicate an effect on growth.
Antihistamines are commonly used to treat allergic rhinitis. These medications counter the effects of histamine, the irritating chemical released within your body when an allergic reaction takes place. Although other chemicals are involved, histamine is primarily responsible for causing the symptoms. Antihistamines are found in eyedrops, nasal sprays and, most commonly, oral tablets and syrup.
Antihistamines help to relieve nasal allergy symptoms such as:
- Sneezing and an itchy, runny nose
- Eye itching, burning, tearing and redness
- Itchy skin, hives and eczema
There are dozens of antihistamines; some are available over the counter, while others require a prescription. Patients respond to them in a wide variety of ways.
Generally, the newer (second-generation) products work well and produce only minor side effects. Some people find that an antihistamine becomes less effective as the allergy season worsens or as their allergies change over time. If you find that an antihistamine is becoming less effective, tell your allergist, who may recommend a different type or strength of antihistamine. If you have excessive nasal dryness or thick nasal mucus, consult an allergist before taking antihistamines. Contact your allergist for advice if an antihistamine causes drowsiness or other side effects.
Proper use: Short-acting antihistamines can be taken every four to six hours, while timed-release antihistamines are taken every 12 to 24 hours. The short-acting antihistamines are often most helpful if taken 30 minutes before an anticipated exposure to an allergen (such as at a picnic during ragweed season). Timed-release antihistamines are better suited to long-term use for those who need daily medications. Proper use of these drugs is just as important as their selection. The most effective way to use them is before symptoms develop. A dose taken early can eliminate the need for many later doses to reduce established symptoms. Many times a patient will say that he or she “took one, and it didn’t work.” If the patient had taken the antihistamine regularly for three to four days to build up blood levels of the medication, it might have been effective.
Side effects: Older (first-generation) antihistamines may cause drowsiness or performance impairment, which can lead to accidents and personal injury. Even when these medications are taken only at bedtime, they can still cause considerable impairment the following day, even in people who do not feel drowsy. For this reason, it is important that you do not drive a car or work with dangerous machinery when you take a potentially sedating antihistamine. Some of the newer antihistamines do not cause drowsiness.
A frequent side effect is excessive dryness of the mouth, nose and eyes. Less common side effects include restlessness, nervousness, overexcitability, insomnia, dizziness, headaches, euphoria, fainting, visual disturbances, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal distress, constipation, diarrhea, increased or decreased urination, urinary retention, high or low blood pressure, nightmares (especially in children), sore throat, unusual bleeding or bruising, chest tightness or palpitations. Men with prostate enlargement may encounter urinary problems while on antihistamines. Consult your allergist if these reactions occur.
- Follow your allergist’s instructions.
- Alcohol and tranquilizers increase the sedation side effects of antihistamines.
- Do not use more than one antihistamine at a time, unless prescribed.
- Keep these medications out of the reach of children.
- Know how the medication affects you before working with heavy machinery, driving or doing other performance-intensive tasks; some products can slow your reaction time.
- Some antihistamines appear to be safe to take during pregnancy, but there have not been enough studies to determine the absolute safety of antihistamines in pregnancy. Again, consult your allergist or your obstetrician if you must take antihistamines.
- While antihistamines have been taken safely by millions of people in the last 50 years, don’t take antihistamines before telling your allergist if you are allergic to, or intolerant of, any medicine; are pregnant or intend to become pregnant while using this medication; are breast-feeding; have glaucoma or an enlarged prostate; or are ill.
- Never take anyone else’s medication.
Decongestants help relieve the stuffiness and pressure caused by swollen nasal tissue. They do not contain antihistamines, so they do not cause antihistaminic side effects. They do not relieve other symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Oral decongestants are available as prescription and nonprescription medications and are often found in combination with antihistamines or other medications. It is not uncommon for patients using decongestants to experience insomnia if they take the medication in the afternoon or evening. If this occurs, a dose reduction may be needed. At times, men with prostate enlargement may encounter urinary problems while on decongestants. Patients using medications to manage emotional or behavioral problems should discuss this with their allergist before using decongestants. Patients with high blood pressure or heart disease should check with their allergist before using. Pregnant patients should also check with their allergist before starting decongestants.
Nonprescription decongestant nasal sprays work within minutes and last for hours, but you should not use them for more than a few days at a time unless instructed by your allergist. Prolonged use can cause rhinitis medicamentosa, or rebound swelling of the nasal tissue. Stopping the use of the decongestant nasal spray will cure that swelling, provided that there is no underlying disorder.
Oral decongestants are found in many over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications, and may be the treatment of choice for nasal congestion. They don’t cause rhinitis medicamentosa but need to be avoided by some patients with high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure or heart problems, check with your allergist before using them.
Nonprescription saline nasal sprays will help counteract symptoms such as dry nasal passages or thick nasal mucus. Unlike decongestant nasal sprays, a saline nasal spray can be used as often as it is needed. Sometimes an allergist may recommend washing (douching) the nasal passage. There are many OTC delivery systems for saline rinses, including neti pots and saline rinse bottles.
Nasal cromolyn blocks the body’s release of allergy-causing substances. It does not work in all patients. The full dose is four times daily, and improvement of symptoms may take several weeks. Nasal cromolyn can help prevent allergic nasal reactions if taken prior to an allergen exposure.
Nasal ipratropium bromide spray can help reduce nasal drainage from allergic rhinitis or some forms of nonallergic rhinitis.
Leukatriene pathway inhibitors
Leukotriene pathway inhibitors (montelukast, zafirlukast and zileuton) block the action of leukotriene, a substance in the body that can cause symptoms of allergic rhinitis. These drugs are also used to treat asthma.
Immunotherapy may be recommended for people who don’t respond well to treatment with medications or who experience side effects from medications, who have allergen exposure that is unavoidable or who desire a more permanent solution to their allergies. Immunotherapy can be very effective in controlling allergic symptoms, but it doesn’t help the symptoms produced by nonallergic rhinitis.
Two types of immunotherapy are available: allergy shots and sublingual (under-the-tongue) tablets.
- Allergy shots: A treatment program, which can take three to five years, consists of injections of a diluted allergy extract, administered frequently in increasing doses until a maintenance dose is reached. Then the injection schedule is changed so that the same dose is given with longer intervals between injections. Immunotherapy helps the body build resistance to the effects of the allergen, reduces the intensity of symptoms caused by allergen exposure and sometimes can actually make skin test reactions disappear. As resistance develops over several months, symptoms should improve.
- Sublingual tablets: This type of immunotherapy was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2014. Starting several months before allergy season begins, patients dissolve a tablet under the tongue daily. Treatment can continue for as long as three years. Only a few allergens (certain grass and ragweed pollens and house dust mite) can be treated now with this method, but it is a promising therapy for the future.
Eye allergy preparations and eyedrops
Eye allergy preparations may be helpful when the eyes are affected by the same allergens that trigger rhinitis, causing redness, swelling, watery eyes and itching. OTC eyedrops and oral medications are commonly used for short-term relief of some eye allergy symptoms. They may not relieve all symptoms, though, and prolonged use of some of these drops may actually cause your condition to worsen.
Prescription eyedrops and oral medications also are used to treat eye allergies. Prescription eyedrops provide both short- and long-term targeted relief of eye allergy symptoms, and can be used to manage them.
Check with your allergist or pharmacist if you are unsure about a specific drug or formula.
Treatments that are not recommended for allergic rhinitis
- Antibiotics: Effective for the treatment of bacterial infections, antibiotics do not affect the course of uncomplicated common colds (a viral infection) and are of no benefit for noninfectious rhinitis, including allergic rhinitis.
- Nasal surgery: Surgery is not a treatment for allergic rhinitis, but it may help if patients have nasal polyps or chronic sinusitis that is not responsive to antibiotics or nasal steroid sprays.
10 Natural Ways to Defeat Seasonal Allergies
What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
Airborne agents (known as pathogens or allergens), such as pollen, grass, mold, cedar, ragweed, or even some chemicals, are breathed in. Once they enter our bodies, these allergens start to wreak havoc. The immune system mistakenly sees the pollen as a danger and releases antibodies that attack the allergens and release a chemical called histamine into the nose, eyes, and lungs. Histamine is intended to attack harmful agents and remove them from the body. One of the main things that histamine does is cause inflammation.
The good news is there are many natural remedies you can try to control your allergy symptoms:
1. Cleanse your nose
Pollens adhere to our mucus membranes. Try cleansing your nasal passages with a neti pot, sinus irrigator or nasal oils. Here are some tips on how to safely use nasal irrigation treatments.
2. Manage stress
Stress hormones wreak havoc in the body and especially in the immune system, making seasonal allergies even worse. Consider methods of stress management such as meditation, taking time out for self-care and avoid overcommitting your schedule.
3. Try acupuncture
When allergies are treated with acupuncture, underlying imbalances within the body are addressed. A treatment plan is developed to relieve the acute symptoms of allergies while also treating the root problems that are contributing to the body’s reaction to allergens.
4. Explore herbal remedies
Butterbur is an herb, which comes from a European shrub and has shown potential for relieving seasonal allergy symptoms, acting similar to antihistamines. Quercetin is a nutrient found in onions, apples, and black tea that research has shown to block the release of histamines.
5. Consider apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is purported to boost the immune system, help break up mucus, and support lymphatic drainage. Experts recommend mixing one to two tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water and lemon juice three times a day to relieve allergy symptoms. These tips on how best to use apple cider vinegar will provide additional guidance.
6. Visit a chiropractor
By releasing stress on the nervous system, chiropractic care permits the immune system to function more effectively— something all allergy sufferers need. A nervous system without stress functions more efficiently.
7. Detox the body
Often, allergies are worsened by toxins within the body. The liver is a great mediator of inflammation in the body, and when it is working overtime metabolizing our stress, medications, alcohol, and processed foods, allergies can flare up. Detox your body by eliminating fried foods, sugar, alcohol and other toxins from your diet. Try liver supportive foods and herbs such as milk thistle, turmeric, artichoke, citrus fruits and nuts.
8. Take probiotics
Allergies are the result of an imbalance in the immune system that causes the body to react too strongly to stimuli. Many studies link the presence of beneficial bacteria in the gut with reduced incidence of allergies. Probiotics can help stimulate production of immune enhancing substances, hinder growth of pathogenic and boost the immune system.
9. Add essential oils
Adding essential oils to a bath, cup of tea, massage oil, or an oil diffuser can help reduce allergy symptoms. Peppermint, basil, eucalyptus, and tea tree oils have been linked to fight inflammation and boost the immune system. Essential oils for allergies will help to detoxify the body and fight infections, bacteria, parasites, microorganisms and harmful toxins.
10. Clean the house
Regular house cleaning can get rid of many allergy triggers and help relieve your symptoms. Clean or change out the air filters in your home often. Also, clean bookshelves, vents, and other places where pollen can collect. Vacuum carpets and change pillowcases a couple times each week. Cleaning air purifiers is an important step not to overlook. Change your pillowcase regularly – allergens can transfer from your hair to your pillow on a nightly basis.
Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Do you have any homeopathic and natural allergy relief ideas you want to share with the Sedera Health Community? We want to hear from you!
How Probiotics Can Help You Prevent and Fight Allergies According to New Research, BodyEcology
Apple Cider Vinegar and Your Health, WebMD
20 Unique Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar, Dr. Axe, Food is Medicine
8 Essential Oils to Beat Allergies, Natural Living Ideas
Disclaimer: The content on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
9 ways to beat seasonal allergies without medication
Living in the Sunshine State, where weather is pretty much ideal all year, it’s easy to want to spend time outdoors, but having seasonal allergies can make that difficult.
You’ve probably tried every over-the-counter allergy medication available, but still have a hard time not coming down with a case of the sniffles this time of year.
If you’re sick of taking medication, there are some natural remedies that could bring you some relief.
1. Wash up
Without even realizing it, you bring in tiny pieces of the outside world every time you return home. Whether they were tagging along by hitching a ride in your hair or on your skin or sticking to your clothes or shoes, taking a shower right away can help rid you of the little particles you’ve collected while out and about, according to WebMD. Rinsing off will wash away any allergens you would have otherwise allowed to make their way into your home. In the same way, experts also recommend you rinse off your pet if you’ve had them outside on a high-pollen day. Pets can carry or collect some of the dust that could later irritate you.
2. Block them out
Just because you spend the day inside doesn’t mean you’re safe from the outside allergens, experts say. It may be tempting to crack a window or open the garage to get some fresh air while cleaning, but in the same way you don’t want to bring those outside particles into your home with what you wear, you don’t want to invite them in with a gust of wind. WebMD recommends keeping windows closed. Another way to shut allergens out is by taking your shoes off at the door, so those outside particles don’t spread. You can also kindly ask your guests to do the same.
3. Keep the fluids coming
No one likes the stuffiness or occasional postnasal drip that comes with severe allergies, but staying hydrated can help. According to WebMD, having extra liquid in your system from sipping more water, juice and other nonalcoholic drinks can help thin the mucus in your nasal passages and bring some relief. Pro tip: warm fluids, like tea and soup, have the additional benefit of steam.
4. Suck in some steam
Speaking of steam, simply inhaling it can help open up those nasal passages and make breathing a bit easier. WebMD recommends holding your head over a warm bowl or sink full of water and placing a towel over your head to trap the steam. If it’s easier for you, sitting in the bathroom while a hot shower is running will also do the trick for a stuffy nose.
5. Rinse them away
Some people swear by nasal rinses when it comes to easing allergy symptoms. Rinses can flush bacteria and thin mucus, which can help cut down on postnasal drip, according to WebMD. You can probably find a rinse kit that will do the job at your local pharmacy, but WebMD also offers the following instructions if you want to make your own with a neti pot or nasal bulb:
- Mix 3 teaspoons of iodine-free salt with 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Store mixture in an airtight container.
- To use, put 1 teaspoon of the mixture into 8 ounces of distilled or boiled, then cooled, water. Lean over a sink and gently flush one nostril at a time.
6. Make natural home cleaners
You’ve probably heard that keeping your home clean can help get rid of those indoor allergens, and while that’s true, certain cleaning products could be creating new problems for you. According to WebMD, some of those store-bought cleaning products with harsh chemicals can irritate your nasal passages and worsen your symptoms. Instead, experts recommend you try making your own natural cleaners out of products like lemon, baking soda and vinegar.
7. Apple cider vinegar
Not only does apple cider vinegar work wonders when it comes to cleaning around the house, it can also be useful in the fight against allergies. According to TruHealthMedicine.com, the sour condiment can help reduce the production of mucus and clean your lymphatic system. If you’re pretty hardcore, you can simply throw back a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. If you need to sip on it slowly, you can try adding it to some warm water or tea and masking the taste with some honey.
8. Cover up
Protecting your eyes, nose and mouth from the things that irritate them is obviously important, which is why experts recommend you keep those areas covered. If you know you have to be outside, or in any place you know you won’t be able to avoid allergens, WebMD recommends you wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth to keep those allergens out of your airways. According to the website, an N95 respirator mask, which you can likely find at most drugstores and medical supply stores, will block 95 percent of small particles, like pollen and other allergens. Wearing sunglasses outdoors can also do the same for your eyes.
If your allergies are really weighing you down, you may consider acupuncture. According to multiple health websites, including WebMD, studies have shown that it may help reduce allergy symptoms, but it’s still unclear how. Though many believe the ancient practice can treat a number of health issues, you should talk to your doctor before trying acupuncture.
Of course, no single treatment is a one-size-fits-all solution. If you’ve tried several remedies and still haven’t felt any relief, it’s possible you don’t know exactly what’s causing your symptoms.
It’s important to know your triggers if you’re looking to treat them.
Making an appointment for an allergy skin test can help you narrow it down to the root of the problem so you know exactly what to avoid.What can help with allergies?