It’s that time of year again when our allergies start acting up. The itchy, watery eyes, runny red nose, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, congestion… Not fun. This is our body’s defense mechanism again the allergen, causing an “overreaction.”
Things that may be causing your allergies to act up:
- Making your bed: dust mites like to hang out here. Fluffing your pillows allow them to become airborne and therefore irritating your eyes, nose and throat. A good tip is to wash bedding weekly with hot water, consider adding a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the rinse cycle as it kills many bugs, and use hypoallergenic bedding if necessary. Keep the bedroom windows closed, and a good air filter running in your bedroom all day will assure a cleaner environment at night.
- Alcohol: the sulfites in alcohol can be an irritant for some people. It may also cause your seasonal allergies to flare up more than normal.
- Changing of the seasons: even if you don’t have allergies, this can cause differences in sinus pressure, making your nose run or be congested.
- Raking leaves: if you are sensitive to mold, this may be irritating to you. Mold loves to hangout in damp places, ie: fallen leaves in damp grass. This is also a problem in mowing lawn. Good excuse to pass the duty off on your spouse!
- Perfume: along the lines of cigarette smoke, nail polish and cologne, perfume sets off strong odors that may be irritating to some people. It can cause problems for your nasal pathways and make seasonal allergy suffering worse.
- Air pollution: most of the time you can’t see this nasty substance lurking in our city air. This can cause coughing, wheezing and asthma symptoms to flare up.Those that live closer to the coast have less air pollution. In Seattle, the Ballard neighborhood has less air pollution than Green Lake.
- Contacts: the lenses can trap pollen, dust, and mold against your eye causing itching and aggravation.
- Certain fruits and veggies: counter-intuitive, I know, hear me out. Ragweed sufferers are likely to have reactions with bananas, melons, tomatoes, zucchini, sunflower seeds, dandelion, and chamomile tea during allergy season.
- Stress: as if we needed another reason to de-stress every day! Stress doesn’t cause allergies, but it can make them worse. Take some time to breathe deeply and go for a walk.
- Pets: even if you’re not directly allergic to Fido, he may be tracking in dust, mold and pollen into your house. A good strategy is to wipe his paws before he comes inside.
Naturally Relieve Your Symptoms
There are many things people do to alleviate their allergy symptoms. Some people use a nasal spray, some people take Claritin or another allergy medicine, some people use eye drops, and some have to do all of the above. There are alternative options to alleviate your symptoms without the use of medications or over-the-counters.
- Keep doors and windows shut to keep out dust and pollen or buy filters for you air vents.
- Shower in the evening and wear clean clothes to bed so you don’t track the allergens into your bed.
- Eat more fatty fish. Due to high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, it may help calm allergy symptoms. Walnuts and flaxseeds will do the trick as well.
- Quercetin… Querce-what? Quercetin is a flavonoid found in foods like cabbage, broccoli, apples, cauliflower, berries and tea. It is known to help reduce inflammation associated with allergy symptoms.
- Vitamin C! Strawberries, oranges and red peppers may help control your allergy symptoms.
- Garlic can help decrease an allergic reaction, and is also very good for your immune system in general. It is best to eat fresh garlic for the benefits, but powdered is fine as well.
- Yogurt has tons of probiotics and it has been shown to reduce allergic reactions to pollen. Probiotics help decrease the body’s immune response to these allergens and reduce inflammation in the body.
- Turmeric, the anti-inflammatory god! As we have mentioned above, anti-inflammatory foods can have a positive effect on the relief of your allergy symptoms.
- Magnesium has been shown to decrease the reaction to an allergen. High magnesium foods are things like cashews, whole grains and beans, leafy greens and chocolate.
- Local honey! This is best if taken before allergy season hits. The studies behind it say that because the bees transfer pollen from your area to the honey they produce, if you expose yourself to small amounts over a period of time, you will be more likely to tolerate the high amounts of pollen during allergy season.
These are some simple, non-drug suggestions that you may incorporate into your daily routine to help alleviate the symptoms that come with allergy season.
For more information and to learn about the science of allergies, please make an appointment with one of our nutritionists.
Yours in Health,
Bastyr University Student Intern