Even though some of us are still experiencing the last flakes of winter, calendar-wise, Spring is officially here. Blades of grass are starting to poke through the soil, willow trees are beginning to show their colors, and yes, allergies are coming into bloom as well. While spring is the time of reawakening and rebirth, for allergy sufferers, the season can be one of allergy medication-induced grogginess and lethargy – but it doesn’t have to be. There are a number of steps you can take to take the edge off of springtime allergies without spending the season in a HAZMAT suit. Here are a few tips to try:
1. Know When the Tide Is High
If pollen makes spring miserable for you, limit exposure during prime time. Use pollen counts as a guide and adjust your outdoor activities accordingly. For example, if you’re an outdoor exerciser, keep in mind that many plants and grasses release pollen in the morning, while others release in the late afternoon, so early afternoon might be your best bet. Another time to try going out is right after a long rain shower, after Mother Nature’s washed much of the pollen out of the air. Consider trading outdoor workouts, gardening or chores for indoor ones on hot, dry, breezy days when there’s more pollen blowing around – and right into your nasal passages. If it’s really bad, and you have to be outside, wear a facemask (like the AllergyZone N95) to put a physical barrier between your nose, mouth and airborne allergens.
2. Boost Immunity – And Don’t Fill Up on Allergens
How you fuel your body during allergy season makes a big difference. In the springtime, redouble efforts to fill up on fresh, whole, health-sustaining foods to help boost immunity, tame inflammation and keep your gut healthy and resilient. Other allergy-fighting food for thought:
- Go heavy on vitamin A and C-rich greens, plus onions and garlic to get a dose of quercetin – all of which will help curb the release of those pesky histamines that make eyes and noses run.
- Ditch the classic health-eroders that throw off the gut’s bacterial balance and weaken the immune system.
- On the must-ditch-list: processed foods, gluten, wheat, dairy, sugar and genetically modified foods.
- Strengthen your immune system and lighten your allergen load with a 2-week elimination diet, to eliminate the most common allergens from your diet.
- If your allergies are low-grade (as in, not life-threatening), consider a little exposure therapy and try incorporating local honey, laced with a bit of local pollen, to help inoculate your system over time.
- If you have issues with ragweed, then steer clear of chamomile, milk thistle, wormwood, goldenseal, echinacea and dandelion, which can make allergy symptoms worse.
- Boost immunity with a gut-fortifying probiotic.
- Try Natural Allergy Support, our non-drowsy, natural blend of allergy-tamers, including tinofend, nettle leaf, quercetin and vitamin C.
3. Strip Off
Pollen and allergens cling to your clothes, so when you get home at the end of the day, strip off. Leave your shoes by the door, toss work clothes into the laundry bin and change into clean clothes or pajamas. Doing so will cut the volume of allergens you track into the house and allow less pollen to spread all over your furniture, bedding, carpeting and so on. Make sure the whole family, even the little ones, follows pollen-curbing protocols. Shower off after spending time outdoors and rinse hair as well. If you have dogs that spend a lot of time in the back yard, give them frequent rinse-offs as well.
4. Give Your Nose Special Attention
During allergy season, cleanse and clear your nasal passages by rinsing them with sea salt and water. Some of my patients love the traditional neti pot; others prefer the slightly easier-to-manage, OTC saline sprays; and some swear by classic steam inhalers. But the goal is the same no matter which you choose. At the office, when a full rinse isn’t convenient, try de-congesting on the spot with an herbal and essential oils inhaler like Olbas or make your own. At night, prop nasal passages open with a nasal strip to breathe easier. In the morning, if your eyes frequently feel scratchy or especially itchy during allergy season, try rinsing them with water. This will loosen the allergens and help flush them out.
5. Keep Pollen Outdoors Where It Belongs
In other words, close the windows to keep pollen from blowing into your home. Run the A/C as needed – and be sure to clean the filters frequently during heavy pollen season, which usually runs through early summer. Also, as tempting as spring breezes and warm sunshine may be, resist the urge to dry clothing, towels and/or bedding outdoors on a clothesline. Unfortunately, airborne pollen will wind up dusting the fabric and exacerbate allergies as soon as you wrap yourself up in them.
6. Get Away From It All
Find ways to leave all that pollen behind, be it for a few minutes, hours or even days to make allergy season a more pleasant experience. All you need to do is treat your body to a little TLC. Saunas can be helpful and I have found Acupuncture to be very helpful for allergies too. Meditation and relaxation have also been shown to help bolster immunity, which in turn can reduce susceptibility to allergy-related ills. And perhaps the most wonderful way of all? Don’t head for the hills – head to the seashore to take advantage of the ocean breezes that help keep pollen levels low.