Many people have a love-hate relationship with spring. Trees dress themselves in neon green, flowers adorn themselves in bright array and birds argue over territory. The earth seems to come alive—but so do allergies. If you live in the South, you live in the Buckle of the Allergy Belt; so, most likely, you are an allergy sufferer.
Allergies are the immune system’s reaction to pollen, which it mistakes for an enemy, releasing antibodies to fight the danger. As a result, the body releases chemicals called histamines, which trigger allergic responses: runny nose, sneezing, itching eyes, congestion and all the other bothersome symptoms of “hay fever.” It’s not actually the pollen that makes us sick, it’s our bodies. Worse, they can create conditions that lead to bacterial sinus infection, which requires antibiotics.
Unless you stay inside all day, every day, during this beautiful time of the year, you can’t escape the pollen exploding from every tree and grass. These tiny, sometimes microscopic particles are on a mission: fertilization. Some days the pollen is so thick the air looks hazy and yellow. So, what can you do to alleviate your symptoms?
- Ask your doctor about allergy medications, including decongestants, antihistamines, eye drops, and nasal sprays; some are available over the counter, but others must be prescribed.
- Find out what you are allergic to by seeing an allergist and getting a skin test; from there, you might begin a course of immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots.
- Although it’s tempting to open your windows to let in the fresh air, don’t: pollen rides the wind.
- If you have long hair, wash it daily to rinse out the pollen.
- Clean or change your air filters regularly.
- Vacuum and dust weekly, being sure to wear a pollen mask to avoid inhaling dust and pollen particles.
You can also experiment with some other natural remedies. The National Association of Naturopathic Physicians has a long list of recommendations that includes:
- Drinking lots of water.
- Eating lots of leafy green vegetables; deep yellow and orange vegetables; and onions, garlic, ginger, horseradish and cayenne.
- Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, dairy products, chocolate, bananas and citrus fruits, peanuts, red meat, sugar and wheat.
- Supplementing your diet with a variety of vitamins and minerals (see full list here).
- Undergoing homeopathy, which involves ingesting pills created from plant compounds and available at natural food stores.
- Taking a course of acupuncture.
- Getting adequate rest and plenty of exercise.
You will survive seasonal allergies, but they will most likely recur; so, if you are suffering, start a regime to address your symptoms now. Allergies, like the spring, will return next year. And the next….