Stop That Sneezing!
Here are some tips to dealing with those pesky allergies.
Wherever you happen to be sneezing, wheezing, honking, tearing up or otherwise suffering, there are ways (both conventional and natural) to help alleviate allergic rhinitis — the technical term for inflammation and swelling of the mucous membrane of the nose, characterized by a runny nose and stuffiness and caused by an allergy. The Huffington Post tells us how.
Allergic rhinitis, like all symptoms of allergies, reflects misplaced immunity. Allergic reactions are inappropriate, but otherwise normal responses of the immune system to substances that it identifies as posing a threat. In most cases, however, the things we encounter in our environment that prompt allergic reactions aren’t harmful, such as plant pollen, dog hair, dust and mold. But when someone has an allergy to one of these substances, his or her immune system treats the irritant as a foreign invader and produces antibodies to it. These antibodies induce immune cells to release inflammatory compounds including histamine, which in turn cause allergic symptoms.
• Antihistamines: These drugs prevent histamine from binding on the receptors of immune cells and can help prevent and treat allergic symptoms, including sneezing and runny nose, but can also cause side effects such as drowsiness and dry mouth. Prescription antihistamines are less likely to cause these side effects.
• Cromolyn sodium: This over-the-counter nasal spray contains a natural product that helps stabilize the cells that release histamine, and can help avoid the cascade of allergy symptoms. For best results, start using it two to four weeks before allergy season.
• Decongestants: Pills and nasal sprays typically work by blocking the effects of histamine on nasal passages, and often can help ease nasal congestion, but their effects are only temporary. Overuse of decongestants can actually worsen congestion over time. These drugs should not be used by people with high blood pressure.
• Eye drops: Over-the-counter and prescription eye drops can help relieve itchy eyes caused by allergens.
• Steroid sprays: Steroids tone down the immune response, and prescription nasal steroid sprays combat swelling in the nose, which helps ease congestion. They often can take about two weeks to start working effectively.
Treatments recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil M.D., director of the Arizona Institute for Integrative Medicine:
• Dust-proof homes by eliminating wall-to-wall carpets, down-filled blankets, feather pillows and other dust catchers.
• Substitute window shades for Venetian blinds, which can trap dust; be sure to wash curtains regularly in hot water to kill dust mites.
• Encase mattresses in an airtight, dust-proof plastic cover; dust furniture with a damp cloth; and damp-mop floors regularly to pick up dust.
• Consider buying an air filter. I recommend a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, which removes particles in the air by forcing it through screens containing microscopic pores.
• Follow a low-protein diet (along the lines of my anti-inflamatory diet) and try to eliminate milk and milk products. Excessive protein can irritate the immune system and keep it in a state of over-reactivity. The protein in cow’s milk is a frequent offender.
• Try hypnosis, which can lessen or completely prevent allergic reactions and facilitate the immune system’s unlearning of its pointless habits (in this case, an inappropriate response to pollen, dust, mold or animal hair or other substances that cannot really hurt us).
• Consider whether stress impacts your allergies and, if so, take steps to reduce it.
• Try nasal douching with a warm saline solution to rinse pollen grains off nasal tissues and soothe irritated mucus membranes.
• Control symptoms with the herb stinging nettle (Urtica dioica): Take one to two capsules of a freeze-dried extract every two to four hours as needed. (Children under 12 should take no more than one capsule a day.)
• Take 500 milligrams of quercetin every day for at least six to eight weeks before the expected start of the pollen season. This bioflavonoid may stabilize the cells that produce histamine and act as a preventative.
How do you treat your allergies? (Huffington Post)