It happens every year; it causes people's’ eyes to water, induces lots of frustration and maybe even a few sleepless nights. No, it is not the yearly filing of income tax. It is seasonal allergies. Normally, we associate allergy symptoms with runny noses, sneezing, and watery eyes. It can't be that bad, right? If these symptoms lasted for only one day it might be manageable, but these symptoms can last for up to 4 months. Sometimes people with allergies suffer from headaches, sinus pain/infections, and constant fatigue. This month, I will discuss non-drug measures to help soothe those allergy symptoms.
One natural solution to help treat allergies is simple: avoidance. How can one avoid allergens that are everywhere? Stay indoors all day in a bubble? No, there is no need to be this drastic. It is true that we spend most of our time at home. We also spend the most of that time in our bedrooms: this is where you start. We spend almost 8 hours a day in our bedroom, so it should be an allergen-free sanctuary. Pets should not be allowed to spend extended amounts of time in this room. While pets themselves might be allergenic, they can bring in allergies stuck to their fur. And speaking of fur, we should wash our fur in the evenings. What I meant to say is that during the day, allergens (pollens, dust) might get trapped in our hair. Before bed, have a quick hair wash or run a damp washcloth through your hair to remove any allergens. This sounds like a trivial suggestion, but every little bit counts for allergy sufferers.
The carpets should be vacuumed, with a vacuum cleaner that uses a HEPA filter, and surfaces should be dusted regularly. If possible, an air filtration device should be kept in the bedroom. Change sheets regularly and wash them in hot water to kill any dust mites. Cover mattress and pillows in dust proof covers. During the day, consider covering your entire bed with a sheet. At night, remove this sheet and put it in another room. This will help to keep the dust, pollens and other allergens off your bed.
I am also a big fan of using a neti pot or Neil Med nasal rinse. This little squeeze bottle delivers about a cup of saline into the sinus cavities to clean out any mucus. Along with this it can flush out any allergens. While this might not sound appealing, it can be very helpful. I use mine whenever I have bad allergies or a cold. With regular use, it helps reduce congestion associated with seasonal allergies. In fact, some specialists and family Physicians are recommending their patients use this Neil Med product. In some cases, these practitioners prescribe a steroid solution to add to this rinse for enhanced anti-inflammatory and allergy relief.
Another idea is to watch the newspapers or weather channel for your local pollen count. This might help you plan your week in order to avoid days when your allergies might be at their worst. This may be especially helpful of people who exercise outdoors. Another tip, my wife mentioned to me, is the miracle of the Vicks inhaler and Tiger Balm. At night, when symptoms might be bad, place a LITTLE bit of Tiger Balm under the nose. The aromatic vapors will help to keep the nasal passages open so you can rest better. Also, keep a glass of water by your bedside, in case you wake up with a dry mouth in the middle of the night. This happens quite often with people who have allergies.