My allergies are horrible! What can I do?

jaieallergies, docere, immune

My allergies are horrible!
What can I do?

Seasonal allergies, sometimes known as “hayfever,” affect about 1 in 5 people, especially those who have family members with allergies. I recently heard a colleague describe the immune system as your body’s security guard. We want that security guard to shoot burglars. But when the security guard shoots the mail-person, that’s akin to allergies. The immune system is over-responding to something normally found in the environment. (If that security guard starts shooting the pets or the kids, then that’s akin to autoimmune disease.)

In people with allergies, airborne particles (specific allergens from pollen, grasses, weeds, or dander) trigger an immune response that results in a variety of symptoms that are an attempt by the body to wash out the offending agent. These symptoms can include but are not limited to: itchy and watery eyes, itchy and runny nose, sneezing, hoarseness. These symptoms can sometimes interfere with sleep, and as any allergy sufferer can tell you, they can significantly affect quality of life.

Folks allergic to pets might experience symptoms year-round, but folks with seasonal allergies will experience increased symptoms during peak pollen seasons. For us here in the Northeast United States, April through May is peak for trees, mid-May through July is peak for grasses, and September, give or take a few weeks, for weeds.

Remove the Cause

The best way to prevent seasonal allergy symptoms is to remove the cause. Causes include airborne particles from trees, grasses, and flowers. .

What can you do to remove allergens from your life?
  • Put a HEPA filter in your house, especially in your bedroom. Buy one that is the right size for the room. Be aware of HEPA-type or 99% HEPA filters: buy the real thing!
  • Vacuum your house regularly. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to be sure and get all the particles.
  • Use a HEPA filter on your furnace. And don’t forget to change it monthly. I change mine the first of every month. Get into a routine with it. Also write the date on the side of the filter so if you forget you can look to see if it’s due to be changed.
  • Remove all decorative fabrics from your bedroom: they just hold onto potential allergens. These are things like carpets, shades, stuffed animals, and upholstered furniture.
  • Get allergen covers for your pillow and mattress. If you can only afford one, get it for your pillow.
  • Avoid tobacco smoke and wood smoke.
  • Make sure your appliances are properly ventilated.
  • Do daily nasal irrigation to wash those particles out of your nose. You only need to do this once per day, more than that and it might be irritating to your mucus membranes. You can use a neti pot or a saline spray from the drug store.

Manage your Bucket

I think of our immune systems as a bucket. When the bucket gets full we get symptoms. For some of us with chronic health conditions, or more often chronic stress conditions, our bucket might be smaller. Or maybe some of us are putting things into our bucket unknowingly.

What is in your bucket that you can take out to make room for the things you can’t avoid?
  • Are you sensitive to gluten or dairy, but not enough that it bothers you every day? Eliminate those foods before and during the allergy season to reduce allergy symptoms.
  • Do you tend to stay awake too late? Make a point of getting to bed early in the weeks before and during allergy season to give your body all the support it needs.
  • Did you just binge on Easter candy? Take a break from sugar. It is known to suppress the immune system, and we want the immune system functioning optimally.
  • Are you allergic to cats but you just can’t get rid of them? While this isn’t ideal, I certainly understand! Keep them out of your bedroom, vacuum regularly, and wash your hands after petting them.

Symptom Reduction Using “The Basics”

If you haven’t read up on “the basics” check out my post here.

  • Get enough sleep!
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day, don’t let yourself get thirsty.
  • Move every day. Usually I recommend that this movement be outside, but if you have seasonal allergies perhaps it’s best to stay inside, or to chose the best times to go out.
  • Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day!

Herbal and Nutritional Support for Allergies

  • An allergy desensitization protocol usually involves taking a very low dose of the offending allergen daily and slowly increasing the dose over many months or years. This essentially allows your body to get used to it so the immune response isn’t triggered. I use a homeopathic desensitization protocol.
  • Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine and can be taken in high doses during allergy season. Too much vitamin C can cause loose stools. If that happens take less.
  • Quercetin helps control allergy symptoms by acting as a mast cell stabilizer. You can get quercetin as a supplement, but it occurs naturally in onion skins. Whenever I cook soup I throw in a few onion skins while the soup is simmering to extract the quercetin. (I pull the onion skin out before we eat the soup.)

I work with a lot of folks with allergies, be sure and talk to your provider so you don’t have to suffer. 

And, remember, prevention and then starting an allergy-specific protocol before your allergy season begins is always the best plan. 

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