Spring Allergies ~ the number one way to survive this season – by Eliza
Are you experiencing the typical Spring allergy season symptoms? – sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, coughing –
Today I want to walk you through how to overcome spring allergies. By the way you will find my number one way to survive this season towards the end of my article. I’m leaving the best for last!
In Alberta I am finally seeing the first signs of Spring. The birds are out and chirping merrily outside my window; the snow is melting and I have a puddle or should I say ‘lake’ in front of our house and a stream which looks more like a ‘river’ foraging a path down the street; but best of all there is the start of my dreaded allergies to snow mold.
This leads me to today’s topic – the number one way to survive the spring allergy season.
I have a few patches of grass that are emerging from underneath the pile of snow we’ve had this winter. On the grass appears to be a ‘white spider web’ looking material – the dreaded snow mold.
Did you know that your allergies may be caused by more than the snow mold that is on your lawn?
In fact there is often pollen and snow mold trapped in the various layers of snow as well as on your lawn… Who knew? I certainly didn’t.
You see, I got caught off guard this year. For the past few weeks I have been experiencing all the ‘tell-tale’ symptoms of Spring allergies – or the dreaded snow mold allergy, but didn’t think it possible since the snow had barely started to melt.
As I was researching some of the best ways to survive your spring allergies this season, I came across some interesting information about what is in the air, the snow and on your grass in the Spring.
Were you aware that every tree, flower and weed around you releases pollen. Not all people are sensitive to or have allergic reactions to pollen, or other allergens. If you do have allergies, you should try to figure out what triggers your allergy symptoms.
Now it is important to note that pollen, dust, snow mold etc. may vary depending on where you live in the world, but for the most part these are some of the most common allergens that you may be exposed to in the spring that may be triggering your Spring allergies.
What is an allergy – How does it come about?
When you experience allergy symptoms this is your body’s way of reacting to something foreign. Your body reacts to this foreign particle or allergen by releasing an antibody specific to that allergen.
This sets off a process of releasing a powerful cocktail of histamine, leukotrienes and prostaglandins that trigger your symptoms that you associate with your spring allergies. These symptoms may include but are not limited to – itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, scratchy or sore throat, coughing, etc.
WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF GETTING SPRING ALLERGY REACTIONS:
Tips to Reduce Your Exposure to Pollen, Dust, Snow Mold and Other Allergens
- Wear clothes made of natural fibers like cotton. Did you know that synthetic fabrics, when you rub against them can produce an electric charge which actually attracts pollen and makes it stick to you.
- Wearing gloves and a mask when raking and prepping your lawn for summer or doing other outside activities may help you to avoid allergies. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-rated 95 filter masks is often the recommended mask of choice.
- Also remember to watch yourself around your garden and flowerbeds. Often leaves, branches, garbage that has collected around your gardens, bushes or hedges can contain mold or other allergens that can trigger your Spring allergies.
- Try to exercise outdoors either before dawn or later in the afternoon, or early evening. Pollen counts are usually at their lowest at these times. For those of you who have severe reaction to pollen and mold it may be best to avoid intense exercise outside altogether during high pollen alert times and make the choice to workout inside.
- You can check the pollen count in your area usually through the Weather channel.
- Also avoid touching your eyes or your mouth while exercising and working outdoors.
- Removing, changing and washing your outside clothes once you come inside to remove pollen, snow mold or other irritants is also very helpful
- It is a good idea to shower when you come in from being outside.
- Did you know that your hair attracts pollen and other irritants. If you are sensitive to seasonal allergens it is best to wash your hair in the evening before going to bed, as this is a huge step in helping you overcome those Spring seasonal allergies.
- Wear sunglasses when you walk or exercise outdoor. The sunglasses will keep pollen, and other irritants from getting in your eyes.
- Vacuuming your floors and furniture regularly can help eliminate allergens. It is recommended you use a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner.
- Remember to leave your shoes by the door instead of walking through your home is also important as you track pollen and allergen in with the dirt on the bottom of your shoes.
- Using a dehumidifier and/or a HEPA filter air purifier also helps reduce allergens in your home.
- Remember to check your furnace and air conditioning filters and change them often – at least every 3 months. Using a HEPA filter may also help.
- EEK…I thought opening your windows to remove stale air was a good idea, but I was so wrong. According to the ACAAI (American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology) you should keep your windows closed during allergy season. Open windows will let in unwanted pollen and allergens. They also recommend keeping your car windows closed too.
- Don’t forget about your pet… Pets bring in allergens on their fur. If you dog will allow you to vacuum them that is a great way to clean their fur. However, if you dog is like mine you won’t get near him or her with your vacuum. In this case simply wipe them down with a damp cloth should help. Also, vacuuming their pet bed, furniture where they sit and any hair that is on your floor can help too!
- Getting tested for allergies and asking your doctor about medication is also another option for those of you who are experiencing severe symptoms and have tried all the natural methods with no luck in experiencing relief.
Did you know that 80% of your immune function happens in your gut?
Being proactive and avoiding allergens and their triggers will go along way in overcoming spring allergies. Other ways to be proactive with preventing your Spring allergies is to watch your diet, up your vitamin D and C, and look at your intestinal or ‘gut’ health.
When allergies strike your immune system goes into overdrive. This can affect the bacteria in your ‘gut’. Your ‘gut’ another term for your digestive system, plays an important role in supporting your immune system against allergies.
When your ‘gut’ is not functioning properly, it is sometimes referred to as a ‘Leaky Gut’. This is when the area between the cells that make up the lining of your intestinal wall allow substances to pass through that should be contained or meant to stay inside your digestive tract.
You may have heard of ‘Leaky Gut’ in conjunction with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Celia or Crohn’s disease. Leaky gut may also affect you in allergy season.
If you are experiencing inflammation due to a ‘leaky gut’ this will place an increased workload on your immune system making it harder for you body to fight the inflammation caused by the pollen, snow mold or other allergens. This is quite a controversial subject and warrants looking more into the connection of your gut and inflammation.
Diet, Vitamin D and C, and Omega 3s
Diet and the foods you eat play a role in keeping your not only your gut healthy and functioning at its optimum but can help prevent or reduce your allergies.
Eating foods that contain omega 3s can help reduce inflammation that contributes to you experiencing allergy symptoms. Cold water fatty fish like wild salmon (stay away from farmed fish) and shellfish are great ways to get your omega 3s in the food you eat.
Taking a vitamin C supplement daily of about 2,000 mg daily can also be helpful. Vitamin C is thought to help prevent histamine productions. Histamine contributes to your watery, teary eyes, runny nose and excess mucus production.
Other nutrients such as quercetin, bromelain and zinc have been also mentioned in the literature to be possible beneficial to seasonal allergies. Quercetin is naturally found in onion and wine; bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple and zinc is a mineral found in meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts, dairy, eggs to name a few.
Curcumin is an active ingredient in turmeric and is yet another option to try. A study in PubMed shows curcumin provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support to relieve allergies.
Many people believe in eating onions on a regular basis will help during allergy season. Onions contain quercetin that have been shown to help you with your spring allergy symptoms.
Some people swear by adding a couple of tablespoons of local raw honey to help with relieving allergy symptoms like itchy watery eyes, congestion and other symptoms. In a study published in the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology, patients that ate honey had better control of their allergy symptoms to birch pollen than those on medications.
You may also want to try hot spicy foods if you like and can tolerate them Spicy food can help to thin out that mucus you often experience. Try adding garlic, horseradish, ginger, cinnamon or cayenne pepper to your foods.
Fermented vegetables can provide you with natural probiotics that can help reduce inflammations. Some foods to try are kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi or yogurt.
Pineapple is another great choice when it comes to Spring allergies and contains an enzyme called bromelain. It contains high levels of vitamins B, C and other nutrients that can help you reduce your reaction to allergens. The core of the pineapple has the highest level of nutrients.
Fresh dark green, yellow or orange vegetables are another great choice during Spring allergy season. Include veggies like cabbage, kale, beets, Swiss chard, carrots and yams.
There is lots of controversy over whether you should or shouldn’t exclude grains in your diet. I am not here to recommend that you do or don’t. What I am going to suggest is that if you are suffering from seasonal spring allergies that you try eliminating grains to see if that improves your symptoms.
Some professionals in area of natural health caution you from eating grains as they may contain anti-nutrients that may damage your gut. Many grains are also contaminated with glyphosate which has been shown in studies to cause problems with your intestinal health.
Glyphosate, a herbicide found in weed killers is often used on wheat crops and has been shown in several studies to damage the gut flora and cause chronic diseases, cancer and inflammation.
Definitely may be worth looking into so that you can make an informed decision if you are experiencing Spring allergies or inflammation.
Alternative Natural Complementary Options:
Some people swear by using a Neti pot to clear dust, and allergens from their nasal passageways. Neti pots can be made of plastic, metal or glass. According to Wikipedia, you can use “sterilized and lukewarm isotonic salt water” or distilled water which is then “poured into one nostril, so that it leaves through the other”.
Another option is acupuncture. It has been getting some attention lately in alternative complementary natural health. A small systematic review of 13 papers suggests acupuncture could be a safe and valid treatment for patients experiencing allergic rhinitis.
AND My #1 way to survive this Spring season and overcome Spring allergies is to use essential oils – My favorite being Eucalyptus.
Eucalyptus oil is an essential oil I love to use every day in the Springtime. I find it helps me during the Spring allergy season. It appears to have a soothing effect on your mucus membranes that often flare up when exposed to pollen and snow mold.A study has found that a combination of essential oils which included Eucalyptus helped alleviate allergy symptoms in PAR (perennial allergic rhinitis) patients.
Eucalyptus oil is thought to help open up the air passages in the lungs and help clear your sinuses. When this happens you are improving circulation and helping reduce the inflammation. Eucalyptus oil when inhaled can have a cooling effect. Another study done showed that this cooling sensation in your nose helped to improve airflow.
Another interesting fact about Eucalyptus oil is that it contains citronellal. Citronellal has also been recognized to help as an analgesic and has anti-inflammatory effects; it is thought to be helpful in cleansing your body of toxins and harmful microorganisms.
How to use Eucalyptus oil?
I personally use Eucalyptus oil in my diffuser every day during the spring allergy season. Sometimes I diffuse it by itself and other times I add Frankincense, peppermint, lavender and / or lemon. All you need is a drop or two of each as a little goes a long way! (I love how fresh lemon makes your house smell)
If I end up getting allergy symptoms I will often apply a drop on a cotton ball and then I can sniff it throughout the day as often as I need to.
Alternatively or in conjunction with you might like to try one of these cool bracelets or necklaces that I just came across. They have lava stones on them. You just add a drop of essential oil on each stone and then sniff as needed. (although the cotton ball works, this is much prettier)
You can also use Eucalyptus in your bath or a bowl of water as a steam treatment. To clear your nasal passages when they are clogged and congested, pour a cup of boiling water into a bowl and add 1–2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. You can then place a towel over your head and inhale deeply for about 5 minutes or longer.
Just a reminder when using essential oils you should always combine them with a carrier oil and never apply directly to your skin. If you would like more information about essential oils check out my article on My Favorite Essential Oils.
My Final Thoughts….
Being proactive is imperative when it comes to preventing or overcoming Spring allergies. If you are one of the many people who suffer from Spring allergies there are lots of natural things you can try.
Eating a diet based on unprocessed foods, adding herbs, including fermented foods, along with supplementing your vitamin C and D levels is a basic ‘road map’ to helping your immune system function at its best during the Spring allergy season.
You may also want to give one or more of the options I mentioned above a try to help you relieve your Spring allergy symptoms. I personally love using essential oils and I will give the Neti pot a try on those very high pollen count day. I’m also a firm believer of acupuncture and will often go see my acupuncturist for a ‘health wellness’ tuneup.
Lastly,I want to remind you that these are my thoughts and ideas on the research that I found through my search for ways to help you with your Spring allergies. These ideas are not meant to diagnose or replace information from your health practitioner, or physician.
I consider myself a lifestyle coach. As you follow me, through visiting my site and reading my blog and my articles, I want you to be able to read up-to-date information, research, tips and complementary options that I find useful with my own health and wellness journey.
My hope is that my information will bring attention to those complementary options that are available and help you to make informed decisions about your health and wellness too.
PLEASE NOTE: I want to make it clear I am not a doctor nor am I trying to pass myself off as a health professional.
Please see your physician before trying any alternative health options.
Quote: Spring: When your nose does more running than you do ~ Woman’s World Magazine
Affirmation: I am feeling the best I ever have this Spring
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Until next time,
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