Winter Allergies

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Winter Allergies

Winter allergies are a growing problem and are aggravated by spending too much time indoors. Irritants got you down? Try these natural allergy remedies.

We often blame wintertime sniffles on the weather. Instead, the real cause might be something the forecast didn’t mention–the climate in your home.

Winter allergies are a growing problem and are aggravated by spending too much time indoors. According to Health Canada, Canadians spend up to 90 percent of their day inside. There’s a good chance cabin fever won’t be the only condition to strike us.

“Indoor pollution is often worse than what is outside,” says naturopath Dr. John Millar, who treats patients with allergies at his Peterborough, Ontario clinic. “Our internal environment can become toxic by particulates in the air, chemicals we use, or molds growing in dark corners.”

Indeed, there are plenty of allergens lurking around.

Indoor Irritants

Step into your living room. It might look tidy, but microscopic dust particles collect in carpeting and furniture. Mites, mold, and pollen are all found in dust and can aggravate the immune system. Vacuum regularly and steam-clean upholstery annually to reduce the problem. Even better, replace carpet with wood or tile flooring.

Take a closer look in the bathroom. Shower ceilings and curtains are a haven for mold spores. Rugs are another hot spot–a warm, humid spot, that is. While most molds are harmless, many contain inflammatory properties. Cleaning with a 3 to 5 percent bleach solution will kill most organisms. Fix water leaks, and keep humidity below 40 percent to prevent mold growth.

In the kitchen, a carton of eggnog or a cheese platter could trigger an allergic reaction, as could the peanut butter cookies. Dairy, eggs, and nuts are common causes of food allergies, along with shellfish, soy, and some chemical additives.

Holiday gatherings could mean unexpected exposure to allergens. Ask guests in advance if they have food allergies, and consider writing up a list of ingredients to display with your potluck contribution.

Ask visitors to leave their shoes at the door, since outdoor allergens can be carried in by foot. Cigarette smoke and perfumes can also cause reactions. Wise guests will bring frankincense, which contains boswellic acid, a natural anti-inflammatory used to treat allergies.

Don’t forget Fido. He may appear harmless, curled up by the fire, but animal salivary proteins and dander are irritants. Pet allergies can make living with long-time companions intolerable, as prolonged exposure can lead to chronic inflammation and asthma. If parting is not an option, minimize cuddling, and ensure Fido stays out of the bedroom at night.

Just Another Cold?

So, you’re sneezing, sniffling, and runny-nosed already. Is it an allergy or a cold? Allergies develop when your immune system creates defensive antibodies in the presence of certain substances. If you have a fever, sore throat, or purulent nasal discharge, then it is probably a cold–let it run its course. If your eyes are red and itchy, and symptoms persist, see a specialist.

Homeopathic Healing

Homeopaths are especially helpful with allergies, since their line of medicine has a long history in treating this problem. A common remedy, Galphimia glauca helps itchy eyes and respiratory symptoms. Nux vomica is used to treat respiratory difficulties while boosting energy. Sabadilla helps sneezing fits, runny nose, and olfactory sensitivities, while Arundo and Euphrasia remedy itchy or gritty eyes.

A healthy diet is important for keeping your immune system functioning well. There are also many herbal remedies that will help make breathing easier. For a natural allergy-fighting boost, choose a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C. Cranberries and clementines, both in season during winter, are rich sources.

Finally, whether it’s annoying in-laws or allergies that are getting to you this holiday, get out of the house. A breath of fresh air and some outdoor exercise are sure remedies. No matter the forecast, the climate outside will certainly offer relief.

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