While spring represents a time of renewal and breaking out of our old winter skin, it has a whole other meaning for allergy sufferers. Whether it’s sniffling, sneezing or battling back watery eyes, allergy season is a time dreaded by a good handful of the population.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, nasal allergies affect over 50 million people in the United States alone. And this number is increasing. They have become so common, that allergies are now rated the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States (1).
Allergy Season Getting Worse Each Year
According to Vox, pollen allergy seasons are getting worse because global warming isn’t getting better. With changes in average temperatures, pollen seasons are getting longer.
Pollen is released in response to environmental signals like temperature, precipitation, and sunlight. Grains of pollen are so minuscule that they often can’t be seen to the naked eye – allowing them to travel deep into the lungs and cause irritation, even for those who don’t have allergies. Pollen can travel for miles, and it can even end up in your house if not properly sealed.
Researchers estimate that by 2040, pollen counts will double, depending on what pathway the world takes on greenhouse gas emissions.
Allergic rhinitis is the medical term for hay fever and seasonal allergies that occur not only in spring, but throughout the summer and fall. It is triggered by the pollen released from trees, flowers and weeds.
While not everyone has allergic reactions to pollen, if you do suffer quite a bit during pollen season, make sure you recognize what triggers your allergy symptoms. For example, nearly a third of ragweed allergy sufferers also experience allergic reactions to foods like cucumbers, melons, zucchini, sunflower seeds, bananas and chamomile tea (2). So obviously, if you notice a sensitivity to ragweed season (highest during the fall), avoiding these foods will help dampen your symptoms.
If left untreated, seasonal allergies cause some nasty symptoms.
Common Allergy Symptoms
Allergy symptoms make just about everyone feel awful. Sneezing and runny eyes that persist for a good portion of the day is enough to make anyone go mad – but it doesn’t stop there. Some pollen-related allergy symptoms are so bad that they trigger asthma attacks in asthma-sufferers.
Seasonal allergies target the respiratory system – so most, if not all symptoms cause issues with the lungs, nose and/or eyes. This makes sense, given seasonal allergies (like pollen, mould and other irritants) are completely airborne.
Common seasonal allergy symptoms include (3):
– Post-nasal drip
– Excess mucus production
– Runny nose
– Itchy, watery eyes
– Scratchy throat
– Tickle/irritation in the ears
– Exhaustion and sleep disorders
– Decreased decision-making
– Decreased concentration and focus
While allergies can’t really be prevented, allergic reactions can be. This requires a bit of a lifestyle shift, and some spring cleaning, but if it means relief for a good six months, isn’t it worth a shot?
Underlying Causes of Allergy Symptoms
Allergies are often a sign of impaired immune function, according to John Hopkins Medicine. Allergens cause certain cells in the body to produce histamine, which is responsible for common seasonal complaints like excess mucus, runny nose and watery eyes (4). Therefore, a strong immune system is key to fighting seasonal allergies.
You’re more susceptible to a weakened immune system if you’ve had physical trauma or surgery, suffer from an underlying illness, or if you’re under a time of emotional and physical stress. Not sleeping enough can also make you more prone to allergies as lack of sleep weakens the immune system.
Your gut is closely interconnected with immune system function, too. The healthier your gut, the stronger your immune system. If your gut is bogged down by highly processed foods, and not enough fresh, ripe fruit and vegetables, you can guarantee your immune system won’t be functioning well.
Unmanaged stress can also weaken our immune system. According to the British Institute for Allergy and Environmental Therapy, stress makes allergies worse, and once that stress is properly managed, allergy symptoms improve (5).
Now that we’ve covered underlying causes of allergy symptoms, lets look at some of the most effective means of treating these symptoms naturally.
How To Treat Allergy Symptoms Naturally
While allergy medications like antihistamines, corticosteroids and decongestants reduce the amount of histamine produced by the body, they come with some nasty side effects.
These side effects include:
– dryness of the eyes, nose and mouth
– abdominal distress
– heart palpitations
– unusual bleeding and bruising
– nightmares and over-excitability in children
Why not avoid these side effects completely by treating your allergy symptoms naturally? Allergy season isn’t getting any better – so you might as well start now!
1. Invest In A High-Quality Air Filter
One of the most important steps you could take to kick allergy season to the curb is investing in a high-quality air filter like the Intellipure. The Intellipure Ultrafine 468 is one of the world’s most powerful and energy efficient air cleaners.
It has the capacity to filter out over 99.99% of indoor air contaminants – and that means any suspecting pollen particles that happen to make their way through your open windows and doors. Unlike standard HEPA filters, the Intellipure omits a constant electrical charge to the main filter, which prevents microbial growth (HEPA filters are a breeding ground for pollutants and microorganisms).
By using an Intellipure Ultrafine 468 as your go-to air purifier, you are combating three types of pollutants at once: micro-organisms, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and micro-particles (like pollen). Using an Intellipure and having it up and running even before allergy season hits means that you will kick any potential triggers, and transition much easier into the changing seasons. Not to mention, this filter is great to have around for when you decide to do some spring cleaning. All that dust and grime you’re going to unsettle will go straight into the filter instead of in your lungs.
Think of the Intellipure as your body’s extra set of lungs – it will make sure you are properly protected when allergy and asthma season kicks in.
If you want more information, check out my full review of the Intellipure.
2. Foods To Avoid and Foods To Eat
There are foods you should avoid, and foods you should focus on eating during allergy season. If you have any food sensitivities, make sure you avoid them (as they will make allergy symptoms worse).
Foods that commonly make allergy symptoms worse are the same ones that create inflammation and havoc inside the body. These include:
– Refined sugar
– Artificial sweeteners
– Processed foods
Foods that help reduce allergy symptoms are those that reduce inflammation and provide the body with plenty of antioxidants to by-pass histamine reactions in the body. These include:
– Probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, water kefir and cultured nut-yogurts (like coconut yogurt)
– Fresh, ripe organic fruit like pineapple and wild blueberries (any seasonal fruit is great!)
– Fresh organic vegetables like kale, spinach, swiss chard, cabbage, beets, carrots, etc.
– Herbs and spices like ginger, turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon and garlic
– Raw, local honey (local bee pollen has been found to help improve allergy symptoms in those who suffer)
3. Supplements To Fight Allergen Attacks
While avoiding certain foods and investing in a high-quality air filter helps reduce allergen attacks, allergy sufferers will also benefit greatly by supplementing with certain food products.
Taking these 30-60 days in advance of allergy symptoms is general advice to get the best results:
– Vitamin A
How are you going to fight allergy season this year? Let me know in the comments below!