Seasonal allergies: feeling all stuffed up

Posted by on Apr 25, 2011 in Allergies | 0 comments

Seasonal allergies: feeling all stuffed up

Spring is the time of year for renewal and rebirth, but for some of us it can be a time of suffering. The embrace of warm air around us cause allergy sufferers to sneeze, making runny noses, itchy eyes and congested sinuses a little too much to bear. Allergic rhinitis is the inflammation of the mucosal membrane of the nose, which can be seasonal or perennial, and can be triggered by pollen, pet dander, mould, dust mites or even certain foods or chemicals. When airborne allergens come into contact with the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose, histamine is released by the body that causes the swelling and inflammation of the nasal passages.

Hay fever is the seasonal rhinitis caused by allergic reaction to pollen. The hot summer months tend to worsen hay fever symptoms as the pollen count increases in the air. For perennial allergy sufferers, the exact trigger may be difficult to pinpoint, but allergy testing can help to identify the allergen(s). Allergies often have a connection to asthma, and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Allergy symptoms can be alleviated through identifying and removing/avoiding triggers as well as building a healthy immune system. Here are some suggestions:

1. Neti pot:  Nasal lavages using a neti pot with warm saline water (1 tsp of salt to a glass of water) help to clear away the allergens from nasal passages and sinuses that trigger the reaction. Pour the water through a nostril and let it run out of the other, you can gently sniff a small amount into the nostril and then blow your nose. Repeat on the other nostril. Perform this twice per day, once when you get up and in the evening to lessen symptoms.

2. Quercetin and vitamins: Quercetin is a plant-derived flavonoid that has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-histamine effects. Take 250 mg three times a day. Vitamin C also has natural anti-histamine effects and also helps to boost our immune system, take 1000 mg three times per day during allergy symptoms. Vitamin E (800 IU per day) has also been shown to be beneficial in reducing allergic rhinitis symptoms in a study (Shahar, E., Hassoun, G., Pollack, S. Effect of vitamin E supplementation on the regular treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol2004;92:654–8.)

3. Probiotics and enzymes: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help to modulate our immune system in the gut mucosa. This is helpful in modulating our immune response to allergens. Take at least four to eight billion organisms daily containing the strains Lactobacillus andBifidobacterium. Proteolytic enzymes may also help to decrease inflammation and reduce allergy symptoms triggered by partially undigested protein in the diet. Bromelain is a compound of proteolytic enzymes derived from the pineapple plant, it has immune-enhancing properties as well, take 100 mg three times per day with meals.

4. Play with your food: Eliminate dairy products (e.g. cow’s milk, cheese) as these are considered ‘damp’ foods that contribute to congestion and inflammation. Other mucous-forming foods include gluten and yeast products, try using brown rice, quinoa, millet and buckwheat. You may want to experiment with taking these foods out to see if your symptoms improve. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and green-leafy vegetables, and eat good quality proteins such as fish, lean chicken, lentils and beans. Sprout your grains, lentils, legumes and other seeds to make them more digestible and less allergenic and increase their vitamin and enzyme content. Avoid processed foods that include preservatives, colouring and other additives. A hypoallergenic diet may be helpful to identify and removing any unknown food sensitivities. Improving your nutrition and digestion will benefit overall health and immune system.

5. Clean up your environment: Take a shower at the end of your day when you get home before you sit down on the couch to clean up any pollen that may have landed on you and your hair, and in a similar fashion, shampoo your pets regularly if they are outside and can bring allergens from outdoors into the home. Clean your bedding regularly to rid of any mites, and clean moulds around the home especially in dark humid areas under sinks can prevent them from spreading into the air of the home. Clean using natural cleaning products without chemicals on surfaces. Use air filters to filter out dust and pollen while keeping humidity to below 50% to curb mites and moulds.

6. Get enough water and sleep: Maintain proper hydration with at least 8 glasses of water per day is important to help the mucous membranes moist and able to flush out those irritants. Getting enough sleep to feel rested in the morning will allow you to deal with all your daily activities while not allowing your allergy symptoms to run you down.

7. Homeopathy: Use the proper remedy that fits your symptom picture of your allergies. Acute remedies are useful to provide relief. For self-treatments, a low potency should be used (i.e. 6C, 12C, 30C), take one dose and wait to see if there are improvements. Doses can be taken several times per day or as needed depending on the individual. Use Allium cepa if your nasal discharges are acrid that burn the skin, while your tears feel bland in comparison. Symptoms are worse at night and in humid weather, with thirst and better in fresh air. Use Euphrasia if your tears are burning, making your eyes red and sore, while the nasal discharge is bland. Symptoms are worse in the day and with warmth, and the eyes are sensitive to light. Apis is indicated when symptoms come on rapidly with lots of swelling in eyes. Symptoms will feel like stinging and cold compresses provide relief. Use Pulsatilla when discharges are thick, bland and yellow-green. The congestion experienced in ears, nose and throat may affect hearing, smell and taste, and is generally uncomfortable in bed at night and in stuffy environments. Breathing may be through the mouth due to nasal congestion.

Take the time to enjoy the spring weather and all it has to offer, remember to ‘stop and smell the roses’ (as long as you are not allergic to them). Enjoy the renewal of the season and maintain time for fun and de-stress.

Always consult with a naturopathic doctor or seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen, and if there are any signs of respiratory distress experienced from your allergies.


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