Find Allergy Relief Today
By Guest Author, Kate Harveston
The unusually wet winter people all over the United States experienced last year has led to a proliferation of colorful wild blooms — and substantial misery for those who suffer seasonal allergies. What is it about pollen that sends so many people into a nightmare of sneezing, sniffling, congestion, red eyes, and scratchy throats?
More importantly, how can those who suffer from seasonal allergies or any other type of inflammation of the upper respiratory system find relief through natural means? Although some symptoms sufferers may mistake for allergies indicate a more serious condition, most go away without a visit to the doctor. Here’s what people need to know, as well as natural suggestions for easing the worst of the symptoms.
What Causes Allergies?
Allergies cause inflammation, which leads to nastier symptoms such as severe nasal congestion leading to mouth breathing. They occur when the immune system responds to a normally innocuous substance as if it were
attacking a pathogen. That’s why those who experience seasonal allergies often have symptoms resembling the common cold — even though one is caused by a virus and the other by an otherwise harmless substance, the resulting inflammation is the same.
Not all allergies impact the upper respiratory tract, although most seasonal ones do. Some people have food allergies causing gastrointestinal distress. Some cause nothing more than mild diarrhea or cramping, but severe forms, such as those seen in people with allergies to peanuts, can cause death.
As a result of the seriousness of peanut allergies, many parents now find themselves prohibited from packing a traditional PB&J in their child’s public school lunchbox. Blood tests and elimination diets can confirm most food allergy diagnoses.
When to See the Doc
Most mild seasonal allergies clear up on their own, but those who find themselves feeling extremely under the weather should contact their physician. Even though allergies are caused by nontoxic substances, the similarity in symptoms can also indicate an underlying sinus infection that’s bacterial in origin. Since such infections require antibiotics, as well as a few days’ of rest to avoid spreading germs around the office, only a doctor can diagnose this.
If symptoms move below the ear, nose, and throat, this may indicate either a more serious allergy or a dangerous infection, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Those with allergies may rarely experience bronchitis, including coughing up clear or yellow phlegm.
Pneumonia can stem from bacteria, viruses or even the aspiration of food into the lungs, typically seen among migraine sufferers who endure frequent vomiting. Pneumonia can prove life-threatening, and those who suspect the disease should head to their local ER for a CAT scan and testing to confirm the diagnosis. The condition can leave sufferers feeling poorly for over a month, so early treatment leads to faster relief.
Natural Methods for Alleviating Allergies
How can those who suffer from seasonal allergies find natural relief? Here are 10 suggestions for feeling better quickly.
- Neti pots: A neti pot is used to irrigate swollen, congested nasal passages to bring relief. Many people new to using neti pots mistakenly think they can use ordinary tap water, but using sterile water is key to avoid introducing bacteria into the nasal passages. Because the natural saline solution relieves without drugs, most pediatricians consider neti pots safe for children aged 3 and older, although younger children may struggle with the procedure.
- Local honey: Natural health practitioners believe using local honey introduces the digestive, not the respiratory, system to the same pollen causing their misery, allowing bodies to develop a natural immunity to these substances. The key is finding a true local variety that is organic, as some store-bought brands contain little real honey at all. Seek a smaller, local health food chain or contact a nearby beekeeper.
- Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus makes up a key ingredient in many popular cold remedies for a reason. This natural essential oil busts congestion regardless of the cause. Try using 100 percent natural eucalyptus essential oil in a diffuser to find relief.
- Probiotics: Odd as it may sound, researchers find new ways the stomach impacts the rest of the body each day. One recent study of 173 individuals found that supplementing with probiotics brought relief to those who suffer mild forms of allergy disorders. While such supplementation didn’t help those with severe allergies, eating Greek yogurt can alleviate the sniffles.
- Bee pollen: Like local honey, taking bee pollen in oral form may likewise protect against seasonal allergies by building immunity. Getting pollen from a truly local source is the key to relief because even locations only 30 minutes apart have different pollen. Luckily, people can discover beekeepers in the community in some telephone directories and online.
- Acupuncture: Those in the West still don’t fully understand how acupuncture helps alleviate allergies, but over 2,000 years of history suggest its efficacy. Those squeamish about the procedure should know it doesn’t hurt. Make sure the acupuncturist selected is duly certified in accordance with state law.
- Steam: Many allergy sufferers utilize steam to ease congestion. Simply place a towel over the head and run hot water in a sink to breathe more freely — or better yet, take a nice, warm bath.
- Getting outside: Even though getting out and moving in the fresh air may feel like the last thing an allergy sufferer wants to do, it helps the body adjust to the pollen in a new location more quickly.
- Clean air ducts: It’s not just outdoor air causing sufferers misery. Dirty indoor air ducts become clogged with viruses, bacteria, and mold. Most experts recommend a good duct cleaning every three to five years, although those who live with smokers may need to do so more often.
- Eliminate: If allergies don’t ease through other means on this list, the problem may lie in the tummy, not the nose. Try practicing an elimination diet to see if symptoms improve. Pro-tip: Those who follow a seasonal diet may find it easier to pinpoint the offending substance. While things like watermelon allergies are rare, if the sniffles start after chowing down on a summer fruit salad, that could be the culprit.
Hope for Allergy Relief
Seasonal allergies rarely prove dangerous, but they can make life a misery for sufferers. Fortunately, few cases require medical intervention. All most sufferers need to do is look to nature to ease the worst of their symptoms.