When our cars are yellow with pollen and I hear my husband start to sniffle, I know it’s officially spring, also known as allergy season. Thankfully, our daughters inherited my strong immune system and are not bothered by seasonal allergy symptoms. But I wanted to find ways to help stop or at least minimize my husband’s suffering this time of year. I figured he couldn’t be the only suffering since even a lot of my friends are affected by seasonal allergies.
The first step to addressing the problem is understanding what’s happening inside our bodies. I’ve discovered that if you’re prone to seasonal allergies, when you breathe in pollen or other allergens, your immune system reacts by releasing chemicals called histamines. It’s these chemicals that can cause itchy, watery eyes; runny noses and often plenty of sneezing.
This is why sales of antihistamines go up this time of year. But these over-the-counter drugs come with a wide range of side effects including drowsiness. The last thing any family needs is a drowsy parent. Instead, there are many things you can do to fight allergies and allergy symptoms naturally.
Make your home an allergy safe zone
Your goal is to cut down on the amount of airborne allergens that sneak into your house. Here are some natural ways to do this:
- For the weeks when pollen is at its worst, teach everyone in the family to keep the windows closed. The goal is to minimize your home getting filled with pollen.
- Change your home’s filter every three months, and always use a HEPA filter.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses when outdoors; believe it or not, this keeps allergens away from you and you can remove them before entering your home and keep that pollen out.
- If you are suffering a lot from seasonal allergies, you might find it beneficial to change your clothes when you come back indoors. Microscopic outdoor allergens can cling to your hair and clothing, even if you can’t see them.
- If you’ve spent time outside, take a shower before you go to bed. Otherwise, you may be sleeping with the pollen you brought in from outside.
- For this same reason, wash your bedding more often during allergy season.
- Put your pillow in the dryer for at least 15 minutes during the peak of allergy season so you can get rid of all those allergens before you go to sleep.
Keep your immune system in good shape
- Eat plenty of immune-supporting foods, such as strawberries, oranges, blueberries, cranberries, kiwi and broccoli. Carrots and cabbage are also good for the immune system.
- Remember to also support the probiotics in your gut. They say about 70% of your immune system resides in your gut. Keep the good guys strong by feeding them healthy nutrients such as tomatoes, beans, green tea and whole grains. They also need prebiotic fiber, which is why I like Regular Girl. One big reason I am a Regular Girl fan is that it helps to keep your gut in balance. Also, it dissolves invisibly and it’s flavorless so I can sneak it into my kids water easily.
- Sugar and processed foods tend to cause inflammation in our bodies and this can worsen the allergies. Minimize your intake of snacks and processed foods that contain a lot of sugar and processed chemicals. You don’t want to contribute to the problem by causing even more inflammation!
- Remember to exercise several times a week. If allergies are keeping you indoors, find an indoor gym or mall where you can get moving. Exercise helps build a stronger immune system.
How to deal with seasonal allergy symptoms
We rarely use medication and use it only when necessary, but every allergy season I used to see my husband grabbing over-the-counter medication to help with seasonal allergies. First of all, before taking any kind of medication, even if it’s over the counter, you should consult with your doctor and also read the package insert that lists all the possible reactions and side effects.
My suggestion is to first try natural ways to treat your seasonal allergies. If that doesn’t work you can move on to the over-the-counter or whatever medication your doctor prescribes.
How to deal with seasonal allergies naturally:
- For runny or stuffy noses, cleansing your nasal passages with a neti pot is a safe and natural way to help your body’s natural mechanism for clearing your sinuses of bacteria and allergens.
- For red, itchy, watery eyes, a decades-old homeopathic solution is Similasan Allergy Eye Relief. Because it contains only natural active ingredients (no dyes, chemical vasoconstrictors, decongestants or steroids) these drops can be used regularly. If you wear contact lenses, like I do, you can try Similisan Dry Eye Relief.
- Some people also find that eating local honey helps to minimize their allergy symptoms. The theory is that it may help build up your immune defenses against pollen in your area. In other words, by regularly consuming honey you are teaching your body that these allergens are not hazardous and you may become less sensitive to pollen over time. All you need to take is about 1 tablespoon per day. You can find local honey at your farmer’s market and usually in smaller shops.
- If you’re not a fan of honey, you can also take local bee pollen. Just like honey, by slowly introducing bee pollen to your diet you may build immunity to these allergens. You can sprinkle pollen on fruits and salads or add it to a smoothie.
In most cases, seasonal allergies are just temporary. But if you continue to be bothered by the symptoms, or if your symptoms are so severe that they interfere with your ability to function, it may be time to consult your doctor.
Have any other seasonal allergy tips to share with us? Leave them in the comments.