What’s that blowin’ in the wind?

What’s that blowin’ in the wind?

Spring is in the air! Trees and flowers are starting to bloom, grass is getting green again, we are excited to be outdoors and ah…ah…ACHOO! Oh yeah, those pesky allergens are also in the air. What the heck causes all that coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, and congestion anyway? Allergies are an overreaction of our immune system to pollen, mold, grasses, dust mites, and animal dander. They can occur indoors or outdoors, or, for you high achievers, both! And studies show allergy season is lasting longer and affecting more people than ever. 

Ways to make allergy season more bearable!

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to minimize allergic reactions. Although medications can be effective, they can make you feel tired or foggy-headed. There are also many natural approaches you can try. You may find that a combination approach works best for you.

Natural approaches:

Salt water – Use either as a saline nasal rinse or spray to clear allergens or as a gargle to calm an itchy throat. Neti pots are popular to clear nasal passages but must be used correctly to avoid a potentially serious infection.

Windows and AC – If outside allergens are your enemy, keep windows closed and AC running. Wear a mask if you have to work outside. If indoor allergens like mold and dust are your nemesis, keep windows open to fresh air.

Vacuum regularly – Reduce indoor and outdoor allergens in your home by vacuuming frequently. Regular home vacuum filters can’t contain fine allergen particles, but your Shop-Vac® fitted with a HEPA filter (fits most 5 gallon models and up) can keep you breathing easy! Don’t forget to vacuum furniture and curtains too.

Change clothes and shower – When you’re finished with work or errands, kick your shoes off outside and change your clothes (inside!), then shower and wash your hair to remove pollen. When bringing pets inside wipe their paws and fur before entering home. 

Supplements - Take probiotics. A 2015 study by Vanderbilt University reviewing 23 trials found the majority of those taking probiotics experienced significant relief of allergy symptoms.  Probiotics also improve digestion and strengthen the immune system. Fish oil and vitamin C are also thought to lessen allergic reactions. And diets like the Mediterranean diet have been shown to strengthen the immune system.

Allergy medications: 

If the natural approach isn’t cutting it, or a combo approach is needed, there are loads of over the counter (OTC) and prescription medications available to treat allergies. Meds may be in the form of pills, nasal spray, eye drops, liquid, or shots. Medications containing antihistamines tend to cause drowsiness, so are best used at night. If you’ve tried OTC medications and they’re not doing the trick you may want to consider stronger prescription medications or immunotherapy. Immunotherapy consists of shots or pills under the tongue to increase your resistance to allergens. Talk to your doctor to find the best approach for you.