Spring is in the air! The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and unfortunately for over 50 million Americans, the pollen is flowing. While spring signifies renewal, for allergy suffers, it’s the reemergence of seasonal symptoms, such as itchy eyes, sneezing, a runny nose, and post-nasal drip. These symptoms are not only annoying, but they can be persistent, lasting anywhere from a few weeks up to several months.
People most affected by allergies often avoid the great outdoors, however, pesky pollen—which is produced by trees, grass, and weeds—easily finds a way into our homes and airways by sneaking through open doors and windows and even by hitching a ride on our bodies, clothing, and pets.
Considering this, how can you prepare yourself this season to handle an all-out pollen-powered attack? In our allergy survival guide, we highlight the top tips to stifle your sniffles and get you breathing easy again.
What are Allergies and Who Suffers from them?
When a harmful bacterial or viral invader enters our bodies, our immune system responses in order to eliminate the threat. For some people however, their immune systems can be triggered into action by benign substances, such as pollen or mold.
These allergens, in spite of being harmless, sound the alarm resulting in the production of histamine, which causes the cold-like symptoms associated with allergies.
Those with allergies might be asking themselves—“Why me?”. Although the science isn’t completely understood, several factors including genetics (thank your parents) and environmental factors, such as having an overly sterile childhood and overuse of antibiotics, that may play a role in the development of allergies. Nutrition is also thought to be a factor. If your diet not on point—if you have nutritional deficiencies or if you’re consuming foods that cause inflammation (think processed sugar and trans-fats)—then you might be worsening your allergies.
Take charge of your environment and body
Doing a little spring cleaning can help keep your allergies in check. Pollen, since it is microscopic, airborne, and abundant, is a stealthy opponent that can be found all around the house even if you keep your windows closed. This uninvited house guest enter our homes by nestling into your clothing and hair and also by clinging to the fur of our four-legged friends. Below are a couple of tips to help shorten it’s stay.
In the House
1. Replace your Air filter
At the beginning of allergy season, make sure to replace your air filter and, if your allergies are severe, replace it every few weeks. This will help eliminate particles from the air and thus improve its overall quality.
2. Dust Regularly
By dusting, you’ll not only be removing pollen, but also dead skin flakes. Believe it or not, dust is largely composed of shedded skin, which is a favorite food of dust mites. The waste products of dust mites—yes you’re breathing in bug droppings—are also known allergens, which may be contributing to your symptoms.
Since pollen can get onto your body even during a leisurely walk from your car to the office, you’re bound to have some stuck to your body and clothing at the end of the day.
3. Wash your Hands
Make sure to wash your hands frequently throughout the day. You’d be surprised how often you touch your hands to your face—including your eyes, mouth, and yes, even your nose.
4. Shower and Change
Once you get home, it’s a good idea to change out of clothes and shower. Pollen gets trapped in the fabric on our clothes and also settles on our skin. By showering right a way, you’ll also help prevent the spread of pollen around your home and onto your furniture.
5. Saline Rinse
Merely breathing will cause pollen to enter your nasal passages, thus if you have severe allergies, rinsing your nose out with a saline wash could be beneficial. The saline will help clear out your nasal passages and restore moisture, which improves functioning.
Everyone knows that eating a balanced diet, loaded with green veggies and colorful fruits, is important for overall health and weight control. Certain foods that are high in vitamin C, flavinoids, and Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to reduce symptoms. In addition, ensuring that you have a healthy, and happy, gut may also normalize your immune functioning.
6. Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Try to consume foods that are high in vitamin C, like berries and citrus. These fruits are delicious by themselves, however you can shake it up by making a delicious morning smoothie.
You can also try adding a little ginger to spice things up, since it is a natural anti-histamine.
Green foods, like spinach and broccoli, are high in chlorophyll, which also has anti- inflammatory properties. If you hate the taste of greens, you can always sneak some spinach in your breakfast berry smoothie—you won’t be able to taste the difference!
Quercetin, which is a flavinoid, can be found in onions, vegetables in the cabbage family, as well as apples. Quercetin is also available in supplemental form in many natural allergy relief tablets. (link to AL-10)
Eating salmon twice a week, or adding walnuts and flax seed oil to your cereal or yogurt will boost the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Taking a high quality fish oil supplement is also a good route to meet your needs.
Evidence suggests that the microscopic flora ans fauna in our intestines plays an eminent role in a healthy immune system. Allergies occur when our immune system becomes hypersensitive to harmless allergens. Thus, taking a well-formulated probiotic, which may improve immune functioning, which in turn, could help to dampen allergy symptoms.