Allergy season is among us.
Before you stock up on your antihistamines, tissues, and nasal sprays, consider some of the natural ways you can ease your allergies.
Don’t get me wrong, I know a shot of Flonase will ease my symptoms quicker and will allow me to get through my day with much more ease, but I also understand that some folks like to explore the natural options first. The problem with that is that it’s often what’s going on inside the body that needs to be addressed. Because we can’t see what’s happening inside our bodies, we may not know what to tackle first.
In the United States, around 15% to 20% of the population has allergic rhinitis. Although the main culprits of seasonal allergies are grass, weed, and tree pollen, hay fever can also be caused by other things such as dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, and cockroaches. 😖
Before you reach for the over-the-counter meds, consider trying these tips out if you can manage!
Close the windows – When you leave your windows open, you risk letting in a lot of dust, dander, and pollen.
Use air conditioning in warm weather to control dust mites and reduce humidity.
Another thing many of us forget is to change air filters. Depending on your personal lifestyle, you may need to change your filters more or less often. If you smoke or have pets, you will want to change your air filter more often. If not, every 3 months is a safe bet!
Air dry your clothes on a clothing rack (instead of outdoors) – Like the last point, drying your clothes is deadly for your allergies! If you can’t handle dander, pollen, or dust, why would you want to soak your clothes in those pesky allergens outside?!
Although it is a great option instead of using your dryer, there is an energy-saving alternative! Consider investing in a Clothes Drying Rack that can fold up and fit in your closet. You can get them at a pretty affordable price online, at Walmart, or even used on Facebook Marketplace.
When I was young, my favorite memory was when my grandmother used to dry all of our clothes outside. Because my allergies hadn’t yet developed, I loved putting clothes on straight from the clothes rack while they were nice and warm from the sun. 🙂
Wash the day off before you go to bed – As lazy or as tired as you may be, your body carries these allergens as well. I speak for myself when I say that sometimes after work, the last thing I want to do is shower. I tend to want to plop down on the couch and turn on an episode of reality TV on Netflix, but once I realized my allergies were likely following me inside my condo, I had to change that routine.
Allergens stick to your hair and skin, so washing up after spending time outside can help you prevent spreading these allergens to clothes, furniture, pillowcases, and other surfaces.
This is your opportunity to try a nice and relaxing Epsom salt bath! If you do not enjoy baths and don’t have time for a full-body shower, simply shake out your hair and wash your face!
No pets in bed! – Actually, the best way to ensure pet dander doesn’t affect your sleep is to keep pets out of your bedroom, entirely. I know this is difficult and sometimes impossible. These are just some tips to take into consideration if you’ve got the space and/or rooms.
Close the doors to bedrooms when you are not home to keep pets out. Cover vents with a dense material like cheesecloth so that pet dander does not flow from room to room or floor to floor. Animal allergens are sticky, so wash and change your animal’s favorite furniture, food and water bowls, and toys often.
Vacuum and sweep – I always feel better once I’ve swept, vacuumed, and mopped the floors, but it can be a pain to finally work up the energy to perform these tasks.
My vacuum is not the greatest. This can definitely affect you if you have severe allergies because your vacuum could potentially be pushing dust and dirt around rather than sucking it up.
Consider purchasing a certified asthma & allergy friendly vacuum. You may even need to wear a mask while doing housework, and I guess that’s not the worst thing in the world… many of us have already grown accustomed to wearing a facemask to and from work every day.
Another suggestion is to leave your house for several hours after you’ve cleaned it. This is because it will take some time to let the dust and dander settle. Leaving the house for a bit and then returning can help clear your system!
Supplement – Although supplements won’t get rid of your allergy symptoms, there’s a high probability that they can enhance or boost your immune system when you’re feeling the change of season weighing you down.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C prevents the formation of histamine, while typical over-the-counter antihistamine medications work by interfering with the histamine after it is produced. Vitamin C’s immune-enhancing effect also makes it essential in preventing infection as well as in shortening the duration of an illness.
- Probiotics: This likely isn’t the first thing you’d think of to relieve allergies, but probiotics contain bacteria that have shown to be effective for treating allergic rhinitis. Look out for the following kinds to fight off allergic reactions: Lactobacillus GG, L.gasseri, L. acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium lactis. These won’t work as well as OTC antihistamines, and you certainly can’t just take probiotics the moment you feel the onset of symptoms. You’ll want to be taking probiotics year-round and maybe change it up with every season.
- Multivitamin: Scientific studies have shown that the majority of us are deficient in many essential nutrients due to the decrease in nutrients in foods, poor dietary habits, and other factors like caffeine, drugs, stress, and pollution. Without the essential vitamins and minerals that keep our bodies strong and healthy, you risk issues with proper growth, metabolism, digestion, immune system function, muscle and nerve function, and detoxification in the liver. Men and Women typically take gender-specific products, but consult your GP for a product that will work best for you.
- Omega-3 Fish Oils: Healthy fats like Omega-3 from responsibly-sourced EPA/DHA are anti-inflammatory, making them useful for preventing heart disease, lowering cholesterol, helps to moisten the skin, and improve bowel function. One German study involving 568 people found that a high content of omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cells or in the diet was associated with a decreased risk of hay fever.
- Plant Sterols: Helping to modulate your immune system, meaning it will bring you back down to a healthy medium. For example, if you are running on high, like when you have allergies or for those who have autoimmune diseases, they can help to bring you back down to a regular level. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are running on low and have a cold or flu, these sterols help to increase your immune system function. Sterols can also decrease levels of cortisol (stress) which is essential for keeping your immune system strong.
Medication – OTC meds are a great option for relieving allergy symptoms. These can provide a great deal of relief for those who suffer from hay fever. Depending on what you prefer, some of you may want to go for an antihistamine, corticosteroid nasal spray, decongestant, or immunotherapy.
- Antihistamines: These block histamine, the symptom-causing chemical released by your immune system during an allergic reaction. Some people notice decreasing effectiveness if they use antihistamines daily over the course of several days, at which point, you may want to reach out to a medical professional for next steps.
- Corticosteroids: These relieve symptoms by suppressing allergy-related inflammation. They come in nasal sprays, inhalers, eye drops, pills, liquids, and skin creams. Using corticosteroids for short, occasional courses, no longer than 3 weeks is unlikely to cause negative side effects.
- Decongestant: Usually used for congestion (stuffy nose), these usually come in liquid or pill form. Decongestants should only be used for a short time, usually less than 10 days. The active ingredient in decongestants is either phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine. It works by narrowing blood vessels in your nose. That way, any swollen tissues in your nose that are causing you to feel pain or stuffed up are able to shrink and ease your breathing.
- Immunotherapy: Also known as allergy shots, these regular injections over a period of 3-5 years can help stop or reduce allergy attacks. These shots contain a small amount of the allergen that triggers your reactions. These tend to work well for common allergies like pet dander, pollen, or dust. This is a great option for those who have allergy symptoms lasting longer than 3 months a year and who have tried other medicines with no relief.
Just like most other medications, there are possible side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth or eyes, blurred vision, low blood pressure, headache, and rapid heart rate. The FDA also warns about serious problems with high doses of common over-the-counter allergy medicines like Benadryl, which can lead to heart problems, seizures, coma, or even death.
Allergy season always seems to surprise me. It comes up out of nowhere and I think part of that is because the snow has started to melt, the weather starts to warm up, and the sun is up for longer, so my mood has been naturally boosted. When allergies hit me, I’m caught off guard. EVERY. YEAR.
I’ve naturally implemented a few of the tips I’ve mentioned above without having to do too much research, such as taking daily showers/baths, having an antihistamine available (my choice is Flonase because it doesn’t make me drowsy and works without fail, every time), and I avoid having pets in my space (even though I’d love to have a cat or dog).
I do realize that these are not easy to implement all the time, especially if you’ve had a dog all your life, or if you work outdoors, but I hope that some of the tips in this article can help you feel more comfortable when you battle the beautiful fresh Spring air. If you have any other tips or tricks you think our readers would find interesting, let us know in the comments below!