What Causes Hay Fever?
Seasonal allergies, also called “hay fever,” are triggered each spring, summer, and fall when trees, weeds, and grasses release pollen into the air. Pollen counts tend to be the highest early in the morning on warm, dry, breezy days and the lowest during chilly, wet periods.
When the pollen ends up in your nose and throat, it can bring on sneezing, runny nose, coughing, and itchy eyes and throat.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 7 percent of adults and about 9 percent of children in the United States have seasonal allergies. When a person has an allergy, their immune system treats a normally harmless substance as a threat and attacks it, producing symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Ways to Alleviate Allergy Suffering
To alleviate allergy suffering, people may take medication with side effects, get expensive allergy shots (a form of immunotherapy), or avoid the outdoors altogether. Fortunately, there are more natural ways to alleviate seasonal allergies.
Balance Your Gut
New studies show that a healthy gut can reduce the incidence of allergic reactions. To improve the beneficial bacteria in your gut, eat a balanced diet that includes fermented foods like kimchee and sauerkraut and drinks like kefir and kombucha. You can also supplement your diet with a high quality probiotic like VSL#3.
Eat Apples and Onions
Apples and onions contain a water soluble chemical compound called quercetin, which may reduce the amount of histamine produced by the body, thereby reducing allergy symptoms. Quercetin has also been shown to inhibit inflammation, opening up airways and helping you breathe more easily.
Snack on Walnuts
High in magnesium, walnuts may help calm down any wheezing or coughing. Plus, their high levels of vitamin E will boost your immunity.
Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
This folk remedy is thought to reduce mucous production and cleanse the lymphatic system. To relieve acute allergy symptoms, mix a teaspoon of organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of water and drink three times a day.
Drink Honey Lemon Tea
Herbal tea with lemon and local honey will soothe your sore throat and offers plenty of vitamin C to support the immune system and help build up a resistance to the local pollen in your area. Just remember that children under 1 year of age should not have honey, and anyone who is allergic to pollen or bee stings may also be allergic to honey.
Drink Nettle Leaf Tea
Nettle leaf is a natural antihistamine whose dried leaves can be made into capsules or tea. It is often used in combination with other herbs like peppermint (#7) to make an allergy relief tea.
To relieve a sore throat, enjoy a natural peppermint tea or throat lozenge. Natural peppermint contains luteolin-7-O-rutinoside, a flavonoid that can reduce the activity of histamines.
Try Butterbur Extracts
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, some studies of butterbur root or leaf extracts (in liquid or capsule form) suggest that the extracts may be helpful for alleviating allergy symptoms. The studies, including a few studies of children and adolescents, have reported that butterbur products are safe and well tolerated when taken by mouth in recommended doses for up to 16 weeks. Note that raw or unprocessed butterbur plant products (such as teas) contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) which can cause liver damage or result in serious illness. Therefore, only butterbur products that have been processed to remove PAs and are labeled as PA-free should be used.
Pollen sticks to your hair and skin, so at the end of the day rinse-off all those irritating particles before taking them to bed with you.
Flush Your Sinuses
Use a neti pot or other saline rinsing device to flush irritating allergens out of your nasal passages. When using a neti pot or other nasal flushing device, always follow safety instructions and keep the device clean. [For tips about safe neti pot use click here.]
Keep the Windows Closed
Although its tempting to throw open the windows on a beautiful spring day, if you’re an allergy sufferer, it’s a big mistake. Allergens will blow right in and settle on every surface.
Sleep on Clean Bedding
Keep a stack of freshly washed pillowcases handy during allergy season and treat yourself to a clean one every night.
Wash Your Clothes
Daily clean any clothing you’ve worn outside to prevent spreading allergens around your home. But don’t line dry your clothes outside – that will just collect more allergens!
Wipe Down Surfaces
Wipe down surfaces at home that may have collected pollen and other allergens like countertops, tables, and floors.
Regularly vacuum carpets, rugs, drapes and upholstered furniture with a vacuum that has a special HEPA filter designed to filter allergens.
Filter the Air
Be sure the air filter on your home’s HVAC system is a high quality filter designed to filter allergens and is changed regularly. You may also want to consider a stand-alone air purifier, which is specifically designed to filter allergens.
Wear a Mask
If the pollen count is high and you absolutely have to go outdoors, wear a mask over your mouth and nose designed to filter allergens.