Getting Ready for Allergy Season

While it is still “stick season” in much of New England, we know that allergy season is not far away. Soon pollen, grass, and eventually ragweed will make their way into our unsuspecting noses and wreak havoc with our lives.

According to Fightthecauseofallergy.org “The exact causes of allergy symptoms are still being investigated.” (Really? We walked on the moon! Why don’t we know more about the human body? Aaa-chooo! Sorry…) We do know generally that allergies are the body’s reaction to a perceived threat. The body releases histamines, a chemical produced by the immune system to get rid of allergens.

The tendency to develop allergies follows hereditary lines; environment, exposure, air quality, and respiratory infections also come into play. Ugh! While you can’t change your heredity, you can take some steps to reduce your allergy symptoms.

Here is a checklist to help you be proactive about the allergy season ahead.

Get ahead of the pollen
– Clean your house (often).
– Change your clothes after going outdoors (pollen sticks to clothing).
– Shower before bed (a nice hot shower can have the added benefit of relieving tension).
– Change the filter on your air conditioner.
– Change your sheets and pillowcases often.
– Get an allergy window screen to filter out some of the pollen entering your home or office.

Make a Plan
– Pollen count is generally highest in the mornings, between 5 and 10am. Plan your outdoor time accordingly.
– Check your phone. Most weather stations and websites will give pollen and mold reports; stay on top of them.

The Nose Knows
– Some advocates recommend starting nasal sprays a couple weeks before the season in order to get the greatest benefits.
– Consider nasal irrigation (aka: neti pot) to rinse irritants out of your nose. Make sure to use boiled or filtered water.

Boost Your Overall Health
– Meditation is good for your mind. It also reduces stress which is known to exacerbate allergy symptoms.
– Exercise. Vigorous exercise improves circulation to the parts of your body that are working hardest, thus taking the focus off your nose so you can bring a little ease to your congestion.
– Eat Vitamin C-rich foods. “Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant which protects the immune cells against intracellular ROS generated in allergic inflammatory response.” (https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/relationship-between-vitamin-c-mast-cells-and-inflammation-2155-9600-1000456.php?aid=66895)
– Eat Garlic. Onions, too. Your grandmother was right. Onions and garlic can boost your immune system. They contain quercetin, an antioxidant that can block your body’s production of histamines. According to PubMed.gov from the US National Library of Medicine, “Quercetin is known for its antioxidant activity in radical scavenging and anti-allergic properties characterized by stimulation of immune system, antiviral activity, inhibition of histamine release…” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27187333)