Deal with a seasonal allergy by following our 10 tips for allergy relief.
The arrival of spring heralds an annual rebirth. The softening earth releases the aroma of new life, the days lengthen, and the birds return. And, for a quarter of Canadians, the sneezing starts.
Seasonal allergies stem from an overreaction to common substances in our environment: generally pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds. These normally harmless particles are treated as invaders by the immune system, causing itchy eyes, swollen sinuses, and a runny nose.
Identify your allergies
Some people have springtime allergies to tree pollens, while others can thank fall ragweed for their misery. Knowing your specific triggers can help you choose suitable activities and locations during the allergy season.
The food connection
Similarities between seemingly diverse airborne and food allergens may lead to diet-based sensitivities. People allergic to birch pollen may have intolerances to apples, celery, and some nuts. Having clear information about your triggers and removing related foods from your diet may reduce allergy symptoms.
Address other allergies
Household allergens may intensify seasonal allergy symptoms in those sensitive to dust, dust mites, and pet dander. Minimize other triggers by cleaning bedding and floors regularly, and consider removing carpeting. A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter for your vacuum, air conditioner, and furnace captures household allergens; and portable HEPA units can be run before bedtime to purify bedroom air. Keep pets off furniture, and groom them often.
Antihistamines are commonly recommended to relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies. Plant-based options include the bioflavonoid quercetin, which stabilizes histamine-releasing cells and may replace conventional drugs that work in a similar fashion. Studies have also found Petasites hybridus (butterbur) to be another effective botanical alternative.
An ounce of prevention
Allergists recommend starting conventional antihistamines prior to allergy season. Likewise, take botanical therapies in the weeks before your symptoms typically start.
Homeopathic remedies are prescribed to match a particular symptom picture and are extremely useful in allergy management thanks to this specificity. Allium cepa treats burning nasal discharges, while Apis mellifica targets bee-sting-like swelling in the body. Sabadilla is helpful when spasmodic sneezing is the dominant symptom.
Keep it clean
Water is a mainstay of seasonal allergy management. Wash pollen from hands and face after outdoor activities, and avoid touching the eyes or nose while outside. Bathing before bed reduces exposure to pollens on hair and skin, and washing bedding regularly is essential. A saline sinus flush with a neti pot or squeeze bottle removes accumulated pollens and congestion.
The great indoors
Keep indoor pollen at bay by closing windows and using central or portable HEPA filters during allergy season. Consider removing outdoor clothes and shoes when returning home after activities, leaving them outside your living space. Hang laundry to dry indoors instead of under pollen-filled trees, but be aware of excess interior dampness if mold sensitivity is also an issue. To minimize the pollen pets bring home, plan regular baths for your furry friends.
Timing outdoor activities to coincide with decreased pollen levels may save you hours of itching. Pollen counts are reported by local weather services, but are generally highest between 5 am and 10 am. Some seasons may be better for you than others. For example, if your allergies are limited to fall weeds, spring and early summer would be better times to plan that wilderness camping trip.
If all else fails
Despite your best efforts, some allergy symptoms may be unavoidable. Reusable cotton handkerchiefs are softer on your nose and the planet—saving money, irritation, and trees. Replace lost fluids with proper hydration, especially during the heat of summer and intense exercise.
This year, take action against allergies—turn hay fever into spring fever.
- clear fluid from eyes and nose
- postnasal drip
- sneezing, coughing
- itchy eyes, nose, mouth
- sore or itchy throat
- dark circles under the eyes
Common airborne allergens
Trees: oak, ash, elm, hickory, box elder, birch family, alder, and pine
Grass: grass pollen is highest in summer, and allergens are released with each mowing.
Weeds: primarily ragweed, also English plantain, Russian thistle, sagebrush, and pigweed