An allergy is a sensitivity to a foreign substance, also known as an allergen. An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system interprets a relatively harmless substance as an invader. Allergy symptoms—including runny nose, itchy eyes and throat, and headache—are really your body’s own immunity putting its defenses up against an allergen. Fortunately there are steps that you can take to reduce your allergy symptoms—especially for those who are averse to taking strong allergy medications. Let’s take a closer look.
Common Seasonal Allergy Triggers
Spring allergies can last from February all the way until the early summer, depending on the climate that you call home. Allergens—including pollen from trees, grass, and ragweed—thrive when the nights are cool and the days are warm. Pollen is often the most problematic during the morning hours. Mold is another common allergen. It’s strongest when the air is hot and humid, during the summer months. Fall allergies occur from August through early November and can include ragweed, weeds like sagebrush and pigweed, as well as some forms of mold.
Reducing Your Symptoms
Knowing your triggers helps to deal with seasonal allergies. For example, knowing when pollen counts are high and staying inside during these times can be helpful. Weather forecasts will often include pollen counts as a part of their broadcast. Also, consider taking a shower if you’ve been outdoors when counts are high so you can remove pollen and mold spores from your body. Here are some other steps you can take to reduce your symptoms:
1. Use a neti pot.
Irrigating your nasal passages using a neti pot cleans out any buildup of allergens that have gotten into the nasal passages. Regular use of a neti pot can reduce congestion and sinus pain. To use a neti pot, heat up one cup of distilled water and dissolve 1 teaspoon of neti pot salt in the warm water. (You can purchase neti pot salt at your local health foods store.) Next, add half of your salt water to the neti pot. Place it against your right nostril and tilt your head to the left. Let the water flow out of the left nostril and then switch sides. Do this every day during allergy season to maintain flow and clean out your sinuses.
2. Sample local honey.
The theory behind consuming local honey is that those who suffer from seasonal allergies caused by pollen will establish an immunity toward pollen by consuming it in the form of honey. Consume a teaspoon of local, raw honey daily and make sure it’s produced during the season of the allergies for which you suffer. It doesn’t hurt that honey is a pretty sweet solution. Children under age 1 should never consume honey because its spores can cause botulism in a baby’s developing immune system.
3. Invest in saline spray.
A saline spray is another way to clean out your nasal passages to prevent allergens from making their home inside your nose. Plus, saline spray is cheap. Spray in your nostrils daily during allergy season.
4. Try eucalyptus oil.
Eucalyptus oil has anti-inflammatory qualities, and it’s known to be particularly beneficial for the respiratory system. Add to a carrier oil like coconut or avocado oil and apply directly to the skin. Make sure it’s diluted properly (follow manufacturer’s directions).
5. Sip on peppermint tea.
Peppermint tea is a double whammy for combating allergies. The steam from the tea opens up the nasal passages, and the peppermint oil from the leaves has anti-inflammatory qualities.
6. Install HEPA filters.
HEPA filters keep some of the allergens that ail you out of the indoor air. From dust mites to mold spores, pollen, and pet dander, it’s all about keeping the air clean. HEPA filters are found in most air purifiers, but the key is to choose a purifier unit large enough to clean the room you’re in. Allergies can really bring you down when symptoms amp up, but by taking a few simple steps to clean your nasal passages, clean the air, and combat the inflammatory response that allergens can cause, you can avoid being afflicted by the overwhelming symptoms that take their toll on you. And next year, you might even avoid taking the strong medications that you’ve been forced to resort to in the past.