Ways to Get Natural Relief from Seasonal Allergies
It’s Spring time and seasonal allergies are in the air. Flowers and trees are starting to bloom and airborne pollen is flying about. Allergy sufferers are beginning their annual ritual of sniffling and sneezing. Every year, 35 million Americans alone suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever.
Allergy symptoms tend to be particularly high on breezy days when the wind picks up pollen and carries it through the air. Rainy days, on the other hand, cause a drop in the pollen counts because the rain washes away the allergens.
Seasonal allergies symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Dark circles under the eyes
Airborne allergens also can also trigger Asthma, a condition which causes airways to become narrow, leading to breathing difficulty, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
If you’ve never been formally diagnosed with spring allergies but you notice that your eyes and nose are itchy and runny during the spring months, see your doctor. Your doctor may refer you to an allergist for tests.
The allergy specialist may do a skin test, which involves injecting a tiny sample of a diluted allergen just under the skin of your arm or back. If you’re allergic to the substance, a small red bump (called a wheal or hive) will form. Another diagnostic option is the radioallergosorbent test or RAST. RAST is a blood test that detects antibody levels to a particular allergen. Just because you are sensitive to a particular allergen on a test, though, doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily start sneezing and coughing when you come into contact with it.
Perscription treatment for spring allergies:
Doctors treat spring allergies with a number of over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Some Over-the-counter allergy drugs are effective for many people and include the following:
- Antihistamines reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching by lowering the amount of histamine (the substance produced during an allergic reaction) in the body.
- Decongestants clear mucus out of the nasal passageways to relieve congestion and swelling.
- Antihistamine/decongestants combine the effects of both drugs.
- Nasal spray decongestants relieve congestion and may clear clogged nasal passages faster than oral decongestants.
- Cromolyn sodium nasal spray can help prevent hay fever by stopping the release of histamine before it can trigger allergy symptoms.
- Eye drops relieve itchy, watery eyes.
You can buy these allergy drugs without a prescription, but, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first to make sure you choose the right medication. Some antihistamines can make you feel sleepy, so you need to be careful when taking them during the day (although non-drowsy formulations are also available). Don’t use over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants for more than a few days without talking to your doctor.
If over-the-counter remedies don’t help allergies, your doctor may recommend a prescription medication or allergy shots. Prescription nasal sprays with corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the nose. Allergy shots expose your body to gradually increasing doses of the allergen until you become tolerant of it. They can relieve your symptoms for a longer period of time than oral and nasal allergy medications. Although they don’t work for everyone, in people who do see a response, allergy shots can stave off symptoms for a few years.
Some allergy sufferers turn to natural allergy remedies for relief, although the research is mixed on their effectiveness:
- Butterbur The herb butterbur (Petasites hybridus), which comes from a European shrub, shows potential for relieving seasonal allergy symptoms. In one Swiss study, butterbur was just as effective as the antihistamine Allegra for reducing allergy symptoms.
- Quercetin This flavonoid, which is found naturally in onions, apples, and black tea, has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown in research to block histamines.
- Stinging nettle The roots and leaves of the stinging nettle plant (Urtica dioica) have been used to treat everything from joint pain to prostate problems. Although some people use freeze-dried stinging nettle leaves to treat allergy symptoms, there isn’t much research to show that it works.
- Nasal irrigation with a combination of warm water, about a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda may help clear out mucus and open sinus passages. You can administer the solution through a squeeze bottle or a neti pot, a device that looks like a small teapot.
It’s almost impossible to avoid symptoms of allergies especially during the spring when there are plants growing and flowers blooming all around you However, you can find ways to manage your seasonal allergy symptoms, ease sniffling, sneezing, and watery eyes by avoiding your main allergy triggers. Here are a few tips.
- Try to stay indoors whenever the pollen count is very high (pollen counts usually peak in the mornings).
- Keep your doors and windows closed whenever possible during the spring months to keep allergens out. An air purifier may also help.
- Clean the air filters in your home often. Also, clean bookshelves, vents, and other places where pollen can collect.
- Wash your hair after going outside, because pollen can collect there.
- Vacuum twice a week. Wear a mask while cleaning as vacuuming can kick up pollen, mold, and dust that were trapped in your carpet.
*Just because a spring allergy treatment says “natural” doesn’t mean that it is safe. Some herbal remedies can cause side effects or can react with medications you’re taking. Talk to your doctor before you start taking any herb or supplement.
For more information on Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies Visit American Nutrition’s Online Store.