Thursday, April 12, 2012

Get Smart on Seasonal Allergies

A field of flowers or allergens? 
     Sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, itchy-red eyes, postnasal drip, cough, and changes in your energy level—to some of us, spring is not kind. Pollen, dust mites, or pet danders bring about a cold-like sensation, but what’s really going on is hay fever or allergic rhinitis.

     One in five people suffer from seasonal allergies, so if you are experiencing these symptoms, you’re not alone. You can stay indoors, loading up on over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants, or prescription nasal sprays, but opening your watery eyes to the environment around you can help too.

Start with your home- you spend a lot of time there.
  • Use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters in air conditioners to better trap pollen spores. Remember to change air filters often. 
  • Frequently vacuum floors using a HEPA filter vacuum bag. 
  • Resist the temptation to let in fresh air and keep windows shut. 
  • Change your bed linens often. 

Look to Mother Earth- try these natural remedies
  • Wash out pollen and thin nasal mucus with a nasal saline flush. Neti pots help with congestion by pushing treated water through the nasal cavity. 
  • Eat a nutritious diet filled with nuts, grapes, oranges, apples, and fresh tomatoes to boost your immunity to allergies. 
  • Use butterbur leaf extract (certified and labeled “PA-free”) as an antihistamine. 

Change your ways- these small changes could make a big difference!
  • Avoid being outside on windy days. 
  • Delegate gardening and lawn mowing to someone else. 
  • Avoid the outdoors when pollen counts are high, or in the early morning. 
  • Head outdoors after a rain shower has cleared pollen from the air. 
  • Wear sunglasses outside to protect your eyes from pollen. 
  • Wash your hair before bed to rinse out allergens. 

     Talk to your primary care physician about your allergies. For bad seasonal allergies, your doctor may recommend skin or blood tests to determine allergy triggers and identify which treatments are likely to work best for you.

By Anne Gill

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