One of the most commonly overlooked health conditions is one that 40 million fellow Americans share, allergies. Many of us that live in seasonal areas love the changing weather. We welcome spring by opening all our windows to enjoy the ‘fresh air’. Unfortunately, we may also be letting in allergens. Allergens cause a person’s body to overreact, causing allergies.
Allergy symptoms include sneezing, itchy nose, scratchy throat and watery eyes. Some people’s allergies get so bad they have to skip work, school or other community responsibilities. 35 million Americans suffer with allergies and allergic disease is ranked the 6th leading cause of chronic disease in the United States.
There are many methods available for treating allergies. The professional route is to get a referral from your primary care doctor to see a board-certified allergist-immunologist. This allergy specialist will test you to identify exactly what your allergic to and then prescribe either medication or immunotherapy (series of shots) to manage, or in some cases eliminate, the effects of your allergy.
Many other people who suffer from allergies opt for over-the-counter medications to treat their symptoms in search of a quick-fix, but some of these medications can make you feel drowsy and run down. Whenever taking any medication you should always speak to your pharmacist or other healthcare provider prior, even if it is only an over-the-counter. Sometimes it is best to avoid these medications and try changing diet and/or lifestyle to help balance the immune system to help treat the symptoms.
Urgent or retail clinics staffed by clinicians can often bridge the convenience gap between wanting treatment for your symptoms immediately and waiting a long time to get an appointment with an allergy specialist. Retail and urgent care clinics often cater specifically to things like allergies an can give you professional care versus wandering the allergy isle at your local super store. In many cases, these clinics will often loop in your primary care provider of any treatment they give you so that when you do finally get that referral to see the immunologist everyone involved with your care is on the same page.
Know what is causing your symptoms
The first thing you should do when preparing for allergy season is to know your symptoms and what causes them. Are you allergic to dust, mold, pollen, your pets, or something else? It may take a considerable amount of time research what causes your allergies but it will provide you a lifetime of happiness and relief. Try using a personal diary to track what may cause your symptoms or as mentioned above, schedule an appointment with an immunologist.
H2O is better…
Drinking 8 glasses of water per day use to be the recommended dose, but really to stay hydrated you should drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. This may seem like a lot but is crucial in staying symptom free during the allergy season. Water will thin mucous secretions and hydrate your mucous membrane tissues.
Put down the chocolate shake and snack on some nuts
Try adding more anti-inflammatory foods, such as ground flaxseeds. Walnuts along with fish oil supplements are tremendous sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid which can stomp out inflammation in your nasal passages. Try to cut back on eating things like red meat, fried or processed foods, chocolate and a lot of dairy products that cause mucus. You may also want to try a number of homeopathic remedies that are available at most health food stores.
Don’t bring your pollen with you
One way to prevent bringing pollen into your home is to change your clothes almost immediately upon entering the house. Try keeping shoes at the door or in the garage. We may not see it, but pollen is easily trapped in clothing and in your hair. So, if possible try to change clothes and wash up more often. You should also try avoiding hanging laundry outdoors; this will prevent it from collecting airborne pollen.
Get a jumpstart on allergy season
Keeping your windows closed and set the air conditioner to use re-circulated air. Also, clean your air filters and air ducts at least once a year to help keep allergen levels low. Unfortunately, fresh air is not always the best thing, especially for people with allergies. If you want to have a symptom free allergy season try avoiding extended time in wooded areas and gardens and try to stay indoors in the early morning when pollen counts are highest. When traveling, be aware of allergy ‘hot spots’. You don’t want to spend your well deserved vacation feeling miserable with allergies. Make sure to dust your home on a regular basis and wash your sheets at least once a week. Keeping a clean home will help prevent your symptoms from taking hold of you.
Dogs are Mans Best Friend… but not during allergy season:
Almost everyone loves pets. However, did you know that animals can cause allergy symptoms to appear without even coming into direct contact with a person? Our pets can carry pollen in their fur just as easily as passengers on a city bus, but it is not usually practical to keep pets indoors all the time. Animals that need to be outdoors daily are a magnet for pollens so plan on how to manage your pets accordingly with weekly bathing and brushing sessions to reduce the amount of allergens they bring into your home.
Finally, always remember that the best way to successfully managing allergy symptoms is to start treatment at least two to three weeks before allergy season begins.