Spring Allergies: Steps to Ease Your Allergy Symptoms

Springtime is a welcome change, with warmer weather, sunny days and beautiful flowers. Unfortunately for people with spring allergies it means the return of pollen and symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, postnasal drip, and red irritated eyes.

Spring allergies are the result of pollen from trees, which can start pollinating anytime from January to April.  They can also be secondary to grass, which occur in spring and summer.

When pollen is in the air it can land on your skin or in your eyes, nose, or lungs and cause allergic reactions.

What you can do to reduce your exposure?

First know the pollen count. A great way to stay up on daily counts is to go to Pollen.com and sign up for daily pollen email alerts. Now with this information in hand limit your outdoor exposure on the days with the highest pollen counts. If you have to go out try and avoid the early morning hours between 5am and 10am as these are the highest counts of the day. If you insist on gardening wear a mask. (It will give the neighbors something to talk about.)

Next,  keep the pollen out of the house! Keep your indoor air clean.  Remove your clothes and wash promptly, in addition make sure to shower off after coming inside to avoid spreading pollen around the house.  Keep the windows closed and use the air conditioning. The worse thing you can do is sleep with the windows open and let all that pollen get inside your home.  You might want to use a portable high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom. Also, I know this is a tough one, but keep your pets out of the bedroom and off your bed; pollen gets in their fur and can easily spread to your linens.

What can you do to ease your allergy symptoms?

One of the best ways to reduce symptoms is to use a saline nasal rinse. (Salt-water rinse) Rinsing twice a day can significantly reduce allergy symptoms by removing mucus and allergens from your nasal passages.

What else can you try?

Try over the counter medicines if your symptoms are mild.

There are several types of nonprescription medications sold over the counter to reduce allergy symptoms. These include:

Oral antihistamines: Antihistamines help reduce sneezing, itching, runny nose and watery eyes. Claritin and Zyrtec are two examples.  Benadryl is also an antihistamine but can cause drowsiness.

Decongestants. Oral decongestants like pseudofed reduce nasal stuffiness. Nasal decongestants like Afrin also reduce nasal congestion but are limited to a three-day course; prolonged use of nasal spray decongestants can actually worsen the symptoms.

There are also combination medications:  These medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant, like Clairton D.

What else can you do?

Make sure to drink plenty of water, and eat an anti-inflammatory whole food diet. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, lean protein and avoiding processed foods, white flour and sugar.


Allergy Symptoms: Trigger Foods to Avoid, Helper Foods to Enjoy

Spring and fall are both seasons that trigger allergy symptoms for many people.  Tree pollens and grasses cause itchy watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose that can make spring a miserable time for allergy sufferers.  In fall, dust, mold and ragweed pollen are to blame when allergy symptoms strike many people with coughing, red, irritated eyes and congestion.

Here is one way to manage the worst of your symptoms: Watch out for trigger foods!

Although most people experience mild reactions, some may experience warning signs of an extreme or  even life threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

You may need to keep away from individual foods during peak allergy season. Have you ever had an itchy mouth or tongue after eating particular fruits or vegetables? If you have noticed these reactions and you also have seasonal allergies, you may have Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). OAS is caused by cross reactivity between proteins in fresh fruits and vegetables and pollens. Most people experience signs that last only a few seconds to minutes.

Symptoms of OAS are usually more noticeable during times  the air is full of pollens that people are particularly sensitive to.

If you know which pollens you’re most sensitive to, you can avoid these trigger foods that can make your symptoms worse.

Ragweed Allergy: Ragweed pollen is at its peak during late summer and fall in North America. There are a few foods to avoid because they may make your reaction worse:  bananas, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, and zucchini.

Tree Pollen Allergy: Spring is the season for tree pollens.  When tree pollen is most abundant, avoid these food triggers can also cause you to react: apples, apricots, potatoes, carrots, celery, cherries, parsnips, pears, peaches, plums,  hazelnuts and kiwi.

Grass Allergy: Does walking through a meadow or mowing the lawn make your nose run and eyes water? When you suffer allergy symptoms to grass, you may also react to:  melons, oranges, peaches, potatoes and tomatoes.

More Relief from Alternative Therapies: These Nutritional Supplements Can Help

Sometimes called dietary supplements or vitamins, you can find nutritional supplements that improve your well-being when you’re confronted with allergens.  Vitamin C is an effective nutritional supplement to defend against allergy symptoms.  So is quercetin (found as a supplement and in foods like red grapes, red onions, and green and black teas).  Bromelain as a dietary supplement also found in pineapple.

Other effective nutrition supplements include green tea extract, magnesium, MSM  and probiotics.

Immune Boosting Foods to Improve Your Resistance to Allergy Symptoms

If you prefer to make food choices to help ease allergy suffering, the good news is many foods are rich in nutrients that boost your immune response.  You can find Vitamin C in oranges, peppers, strawberries, kiwi, potatoes, broccoli and cabbage.

Magnesium is present in almonds, spinach, avocados, oysters, and peanuts.

Quercetin occurs naturally in certain vegetables and fruits, and decreases inflammation. Quercetin is found in apples, cranberries, grapefruit, grapes, pears, spinach, kale and cabbage.

Bromelain is a natural anti-inflammatory and is present in all parts of the pineapple plant.

Ginger acts as a natural antihistamine and decongestant.

Can Herbs Relieve the Allergic Response?

Herbal supplements that may be effective in easing allergy symptoms include butterbur, stinging needle and goldenseal.   Always check together with your doctor before adding herbs to your treatment program.

Other Treatments to Ease Allergy Symptoms: Acupuncture and Traditional Medicines

Some people don’t like drugstore allergy medicines because of unwanted side effects.  Don’t like the drowsy feeling from over the counter allergy medicines?  Many people with allergies find acupuncture and acupressure  provide real relief from allergy symptoms.  Studies have shown that a combination of dietary remedies and acupuncture can help people enjoy more activities with a decrease in allergy symptoms.

Still not better? There are still a wide range of treatment options available to you.

If you have especially bad seasonal allergies, you may benefit from allergy testing.  An allergist can perform skin or blood tests.  This way you can learn exactly what you are allergic to.

In cases of extreme seasonal allergies your doctor may recommend that you start on medication before the season begins.  This way your treatment can prevent severe symptoms. For some people, allergy shots can be an effective option. Allergy shots are a series of injections using small amounts of the substances that cause your allergic response. Over time these injections can reduce your immune system’s reaction to thee substances.

Acupuncture and Traditional Medical Therapies for Allergies in Northern NJ

Dr. Betty Keller treats patients suffering from chronic illness at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes New Jersey.   Because each person’s symptoms and situation is individual, Dr. Keller develops a personalized treatment plan.  She specializes  fibromyalgia and musculoskeletal disorders, weight loss and chronic disease prevention.  Treatment plans may include traditional medicine, combined with nutritional supplements and acupuncture.  If you suffer from illness that has not improved with typical treatments, and would like to find out more about treatments available at the Optimal Wellness Center, contact Dr. Keller’s office at 201-485-7930.

Disclaimer:  The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician.