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Springtime Sneezes

May 7, 2021

In the past week or so, spring seems to have arrived.  The beautiful pale green of spring is now everywhere.

Unfortunately for me, the season of pollen has arrived.  When I walk out to my car, it’s covered in a layer of yellow dust.  That dust gets into my eyes, making them puff up and water; and it gets into my nose, giving me the sniffles and sinus headaches.  My seasonal allergies have lessened significantly in the past few years, but I remember springs that were miserable.

If you visit any pharmacy, you will find dozens of over-the-counter medications to help relieve the symptoms of spring.  Depending on the individual’s needs, a variety of antihistamines and decongestants and combinations of both can be helpful.  Unfortunately, they also come with a variety of side effects that can make the allergy sufferer wonder which is worse—the allergy itself or the treatment.  Some medications make you sleepy, while others make you nervous. Some can react badly with other medications you may be taking.  Some can increase your blood pressure.  It’s a good idea to review your allergy medications with your doctor.

There are a few things you can do to help alleviate allergies without medications.  I, personally, find that the more water that I drink—in lieu of sodas, coffee, wine, etc.—the less I suffer from seasonal allergies.  Studies have found that those of us with allergies suffer due to a histamine reaction. Our immune system produces histamines to help guard against dangerous pollutants. The annoying symptoms caused by allergies is actually your body fighting off the harmful irritants like, mold, dust and pollen.  Drinking plenty of water helps alleviate those symptoms.

Choosing chicken or seafood over beef for dinner may be helpful in relieving allergies. A two-year study of adults with and without hay fever found those who consumed the most trans oleic acid, a form of monounsaturated fat found primarily in meat and dairy products, were nearly three times as likely to have hay fever as those who ate the least. 

Acupuncture may help relieve hay fever, according to research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In the study, allergy sufferers who were randomly assigned to a dozen acupuncture sessions had more symptom relief and used less antihistamine medication than those who got a pretend treatments or did not get the treatment. Experts suspect that acupuncture curbs inflammatory immune-system substances involved in allergic reactions.

Try to do your outdoor exercise in the late afternoon or early evening. Many trees release their pollen at first light, and ragweed pollen tends to fly most thickly at midday. So, end of day exercise may expose you to fewer allergens than early morning routines.

Perhaps my favorite “natural” allergy cure is a visit to the beach.  Pollen and mold counts can be lower on the sand because of the sea breeze at the beach.  Swimming and splashing around in the surf can help allergy-sufferers, since they continuously rinse pollen and other air-borne allergens from the skin.

If you suffer excessively from allergies, it might be time for an allergy test.  Years ago, I had terrible allergies.  At the time, I lived in downtown Rockport—surrounded by trees and flowers.  I just assumed that my allergies were due to the foliage surrounding me.  The reality was that I had a food allergy.  The medications I took could not compete with the fact that I was constantly eating food that triggered my allergies.  Once I eliminated certain foods from my diet, my allergies almost completely disappeared.  I went from taking allergy medication every single day to only needing medication occasionally. My assumptions caused me years of misery that could have been lessened with a simple allergy test.