Tired of the congestion, itchy eyes and fatigue that plague you? Symptoms of seasonal allergies can really take the joy out of summer. While friends and relatives are attending barbecues and garden parties, you’re staying indoors, grumpy and sniffling.
It shouldn’t be this way! You don’t have to resort to over-the-counter drugs or injections to find relief. There are tips and natural remedies for allergies that you can do right at home. But first, let’s understand allergies a little better.
Allergies happen when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance that doesn’t cause a reaction in most people. Pollen, ragweed, bee venom or pet dander are common ones. On red alert, the immune system then produces antibodies that remain on guard for that particular allergen. When you’re exposed to the allergen again, these antibodies can release a number of immune system chemicals, such as histamine, that cause allergy symptoms.
Severity to allergies varies from minor irritation to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening emergency. The key is to find out what is causing your symptoms and be smart about how to handle them. You don’t want to make them any worse than they are.
Signs and symptoms of seasonal allergies
When you’re considering a natural remedy for allergies, it’s important to spot the signs. Don’t confuse these symptoms with the common cold:
- Itching of the nose, eyes, ears or roof of the mouth
- Runny, stuffy nose
- Watery, red or swollen eyes (conjunctivitis).
5 Tips to prevent seasonal allergies
Home remedies for seasonal allergies start with some basic know-how and prevention, including these tips:
1. Don’t leave your windows open. Warmer weather has arrived and you’re tempted to let the fresh air in, but this is a complete misfire for pollen season. Instead, close all windows and keep the air-conditioning on. If it’s not hot, set the AC to filter mode just to keep the air moving. And use the AC in your car as well – it can cut down on the pollen you breathe by 30 percent, experts suggest.
2. Don’t ignore suspicious symptoms. Allergies to pollen or pets can happen at any point for adults, even after years of living without allergies. You can develop symptoms that are subtle, but chronic. If you suspect you may have allergy symptoms that seem to just hang on, get it checked out.
3. Pay attention to pollen counts. It comes down to information – the more you know, the better prepared you’ll be. You can find pollen count information online or reported on TV weather channels, which you may have just overlooked in the past. Pay attention to these ratings of low, moderate and high, and plan your day.
4. Time your outdoor activities accordingly. Grasses and trees start releasing their pollen at sunrise, peaking in the late morning and early afternoon. If you want to take a walk, visit with a friend on a patio, or do your gardening, plan to do it later in the afternoon or early evening. This way, you’ll avoid pollen’s primetime exposure. If you’re a runner and pollen counts are going to be high on a given day, plan to do a less strenuous exercise.
5. Manage your stress. Stress makes allergy symptoms worse. A study published in 2014 in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that allergy sufferers who had more stress in their lives also had more allergy flare-ups. Makes sense; simply having allergies themselves can be stressful for a lot of people, considering how the condition can affect your ability to sleep, concentrate and breathe properly.
The reason for this connection is largely because of histamine, one of the hormones your body releases when you’re stressed. Histamine is also the hormone that causes allergy symptoms like sneezing and nasal congestion. So if you have increased levels of histamine in your body because of stress, and then are exposed to something that causes an allergic reaction, your symptoms can be worse than usual. Find coping mechanisms to relieve stress that work for you. Laughter always helps, so keep those funny video clips handy. Exercise can do wonders, too, along with deep breathing and meditation, and connecting with friends and family.
4 Natural remedies to prevent allergies
When it comes to home remedies for seasonal allergies, there are several to try. We’ve rounded up a few of our top picks here:
1. Honey is known for its antibacterial properties and boosting the immune system – all good! People are also consuming it as a natural remedy for allergies. Try local honey. The idea is the bees eat the pollen that’s in your region of the country, then they produce the honey and you consume that, so it’s kind of like a mini allergy shot.
2. Onions. Eat more onions! They provide flavor and important phytonutrients such as flavonoids, which is one category of antioxidant compounds that help delay or slow the oxidative damage to cells and tissue of the body. Other dietary sources of flavonoids include apples and tea, but studies at Wageningen Agricultural University, the Netherlands, have shown that the absorption of flavonoids from onions is far more substantial than that from tea and apples.
3. Reishi mushrooms. Hong Kong researchers have studied reishi mushrooms, examining the antioxidant properties that may help protect against cancer and other chronic diseases. In particular, it’s the protection of cellular components from oxidative damage, which may lead to the decreased risk of mutations. Antioxidants combat against this free-radical damage, boosting immune cells so your body can maintain good health, which comes in handy as a natural remedy for allergies.
Researchers suggest the reishi muchroom can be used in a wide range of applications. It’s important to note that the reishi is not the kind of mushroom you can throw on a pizza or salad, it must be used in capsule or liquid form. While studies of this type of mushroom are scarce, the reishi has been used in Asia as traditional herbal remedies for their overall health benefits.
4. Probiotics. The “good” bacteria, like the kind found in plain yogurt, is well associated with digestion, but probiotics also play a role in keeping your immune system strong well balanced. Choose plain yogurt, kefir, miso soup and sauerkraut.
A natural remedy for seasonal allergies can help you avoid over-the-counter drugs and relieve your symptoms. Some commonsense household strategies and diet choices can get you back to enjoying the outdoors and making the most of summer.
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