Spring Allergies: Overview and Relief Options
When it comes to spring and the increase in blooming vegetation, people tend to fall into two categories: those who walk around basking in the amazing fresh scents, and those who can’t smell anything due to their spring allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), the top 10 most challenging places to live with spring allergies in 2019 are:
- McAllen, TX
- Jackson, MS
- Providence, RI
- Memphis, TN
- Springfield, MA
- Louisville, KY
- New Orleans, LA
- Scranton, PA
- Baton Rouge, LA
- Richmond, VA
The AAFA’s criteria for rating these cities consisted of pollen counts, use of allergy medicines, and availability of board-certified allergists. Cities with high pollen, high allergy medicine use, and lower availability of allergy specialists ranked the highest on the list. Luckily for us on the west coast, none of these spring allergy capitals are anywhere near us. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t have our fair share of allergy suffering. What causes seasonal allergies, and what are your options for relief?
What Causes Spring Allergies?
Allergies are one of the most common chronic diseases. Most of us probably don’t think of them that way but a chronic disease lasts a long time or occurs often. Allergies occur when the body’s immune system recognizes a substance as harmful and subsequently overreacts to it. The body’s immune system makes an antibody called immunoglobulin E, which responds to allergens. The resulting symptoms are called an allergic reaction, presenting as watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, rash, or hives. Pollen is the most common trigger of spring allergies. Each season, but especially during spring, plants release pollen to fertilize each other. Most of the allergy-inducing pollen comes from trees, weeds, and grasses, which typically start producing more pollen in the spring season. These specific plants make small, light, dry pollen grains that travel by wind, so the pollen is often harder to avoid if you spend any time outdoors.
How Can I Prevent Allergic Reactions This Spring?
The number one way to prevent allergic reactions of any kind is to avoid your triggering allergens. Since that’s fairly difficult to do if you’re allergic to pollen that’s swirling around everywhere outside, there are additional steps you can take to lessen the impact on your system.
→ Limit Outdoor Activities When Pollen Counts are High
While you can’t completely avoid going outside all spring, you can try to limit your outdoor activities when pollen counts are particularly high. To help those who suffer from spring allergies, most newscasts list the pollen count during the weather report. You can also find pollen count info online. If you know the pollen count is going to be higher on a specific day, try to avoid spending as much time outdoors. That will lessen the amount of pollen you inhale, which should reduce your symptoms.
→ Keep Windows Closed During Pollen Season
The increase in sunny days and warmer temperatures may tempt you to open up your windows and air out your house, but if you have pollen allergies you should reconsider that choice. Keep your windows closed, and use an air conditioner with an asthma and allergy friendly filter attachment whenever possible. This also applies to your car, not just your house.
→ Shower and Shampoo Before Bed
Taking a shower and shampooing your hair each night will remove pollen from your skin and hair, as well as keep it off your bedding.
→ Change and Immediately Wash Clothes Worn Outside
If you were outside and exposed to high pollen counts, you should change your clothes as soon as possible once you’re back indoors. Don’t throw those clothes in your bedroom hamper either. Make sure you put them in the wash right away, so the pollen doesn’t have a chance to spread throughout the rooms in your house. You should also dry your clothes in the dryer, not on an outdoor line. Clothes dried outside in the spring air may smell fresh, but they’re also going to be covered in pollen and trigger your allergies.
→ Wear Sunglasses and a Hat Outside
If you’ll be spending much time outdoors, try wearing sunglasses and a hat as often as possible. In addition to protecting you from exposure to the sun, these will help keep pollen out of your eyes and off your hair.
What Can I do for Spring Allergies Relief?
There are plenty of over-the-counter allergy remedies you can use. You can also discuss additional medication options with your doctor. We’ve come across some natural remedies that may help provide some allergy relief as well. Different people benefit from different remedies, depending on their specific allergies, as well as genetic factors. If one of these doesn’t work for you, consider trying another. As with most natural remedies, you should discuss these with your doctor as well.
→ Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is like the Swiss Army knife of the food world. It’s useful for so many applications, including heartburn relief, eczema, makeup remover, sunburn relief, jewelry cleaner, and shampoo. So it’s shouldn’t be a surprise that it has the potential to help with allergy relief as well. Apple cider vinegar helps to reduce mucus production, as well as cleanse the lymphatic system. It’s important to make sure you’re using organic, unfiltered ACV, because that will have beneficial bacterial (sometimes known as “The Mother”) present, while filtered brands will not.
→ Nasal Flush
A lot of people are wary of using a nasal flush system, such as a Neti Pot. We get it. The idea of pouring water into your own nostrils doesn’t sound like a great way to spend your evening. However, before you completely disregard this idea, you should give it at least one chance. I personally hate having water up my nose; I’m one of those people who prefers to use a nose plug while swimming. It took a lot of pep talking before I successfully used a Neti Pot, but the sinus relief was immense and almost immediate.
The really important thing to remember when you use a nasal flush system is that you should use either a sterile saline solution, distilled water, or previously boiled water. Don’t use water directly from your tap without boiling it ahead of time; you want to flush irritants and toxins out of your body, not pour more in. If you’re not using a pre-made saline rinse, you can make your own by dissolving 1 teaspoon of sea salt into a quart of boiling distilled water. Let it cool completely, put it in the pot, and pour through one nostril and out the other.
Aside from pollen, another trigger for allergies is an imbalance in the immune system which causes the body to overreact to a stimulus. Studies have shown that probiotics play a substantial role in preventing allergies. They help to improve the function of the mucosal lining of your intestines, hinder the growth of bad bacteria, and stimulate production of your body’s immune enhancing substances. Probiotic-rich foods include yogurt, kefir, fermented foods like kimchi, and kombucha, which comes in several flavors and varieties. All of these items are available at most supermarkets, so you shouldn’t have to go to a fancy store to find them.
→ Local Honey
This remedy does not have much scientific or medical evidence to back it up, but lots of people swear by using local honey to alleviate their spring allergies. The general theory is that if you consume honey made by bees in your area, your body will adapt to the allergens in your specific environment. Though the benefits don’t have much hard evidence to show at this time, there doesn’t seem to be any detrimental effect of consuming honey, so it’s worth trying. Consume a teaspoon or more of raw, unprocessed honey from as close to where you live as possible. You should do this one or more times a day, and ideally, start consuming the honey about a month or so before allergy season begins.
→ Nettle Leaf
Nettle Leaf is a natural antihistamine; it naturally blocks the body’s ability to produce histamine. You can find nettle leaf tea in most supermarkets, and it’s also available in capsule form.
Overall, we hope this has provided you with some ideas for how to avoid and relieve your spring allergy troubles.
If you have additional ideas or remedies we didn’t discuss here, please let us know by filling out the form below or contacting us today.