Issues and Challenges

Effective Ways to Manage Seasonal Allergies

While most people look forward to growing new plants and trees in spring, many dread unwelcomed seasonal allergies. It is that time of the year when sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itchy sinus, throat or ear canals, postnasal drain, headaches, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing are frequent occurrences. Seasonal allergies or seasonal allergic rhinitis causes symptoms during a certain time of the year usually when grass, trees, and weeds release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilize other plants. Although less prevalent in winter, allergic rhinitis can occur year round. Pollen from different plants is released at different times of the year. People can, therefore, suffer allergic rhinitis in more than one season, depending on their allergy triggers and where they live. Indoor allergens, such as mold or pet dander, can also cause an allergic reaction. When a person comes in contact with the substance he/she is allergic to, the immune system starts producing histamine and other chemicals to defend against the allergens entering the body. Increased levels of histamine then cause allergy symptoms. As the pollen season is here, prepare yourself for a symptom-free time by taking the following measures. 
Diet and Nutrition 
Dr Mark Hyman, an American physician, founder and director of UltraWellness Center, says: “Food has the power to heal us. It is the most potent tool we have to help prevent and treat many of our chronic diseases.” 
Modifying diet can go a long way in reducing allergy symptoms. Foods containing high quantities of vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, antioxidants, and other minerals that boost the immune system can help fight allergies. So, make sure to include such food items in your daily diet. Medical practitioners recommend taking 2000 milligrams of vitamin C daily to lower histamine levels. Citrus fruits, especially lemons, which are high in vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and antioxidants, are excellent for increasing immune response and avoiding the symptoms of seasonal allergies. For regular immune support and symptom alleviation, mix lemon juice and apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink a few times a day. Lemon juice mixed with olive oil can also be used as a salad dressing. Vitamin D is another important vitamin that helps reduce allergic reactions and inflammation. Allergies such as allergic rhinitis, asthma, and eczema have been related to vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D regulates immune system cells and the release of chemicals that can produce allergy symptoms. Vitamin D should, therefore, be taken in a moderate amount during allergy season. 
Moreover, a popular belief is that consuming locally produced honey can lower allergic reactions to pollen. It is because the local honey is collected by the bees of that specific area and, therefore, enable people to establish a resistance to local pollen. A few herbs, fruits and vegetables are also quite beneficial in lowering allergy symptoms. Various fruits and vegetables contain quercetin — an antioxidant bioflavonoid that lowers histamine production. It reduces inflammation of the airways, mucus production, and bronchial hyperactivity. Quercetin is most commonly found in green vegetables, citrus fruits, and apples. Moreover, garlic has a high content of quercetin, which acts as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune enhancer. It prevents cells from producing histamine as a response to allergens. Garlic intake can naturally control the body’s reaction to pollen. However, it takes time to build up sufficient doses of quercetin, so those prone to seasonal allergies should begin taking lots of vegetables weeks or even months before the allergy season. Fresh and dried rosemary also help provide relief to asthma and allergy symptoms. The rosmarinic acid found in the rosemary plant has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Ginger also aids in lowering histamine levels in the body. Apart from the various health benefits for the digestive and circulatory systems of the body, ginger also proves to be a natural antihistamine, potent antiviral agent, and immune booster. Consuming ginger tea can relieve nasal congestion and headaches. Moreover, turmeric contains curcumin, which can significantly reduce and inhibit allergic responses. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology showed in their study that individuals who took curcumin for two months had less sneezing and congestion as well as better nasal airflow. Last but not the least, drinking plenty of water each day can considerably reduce allergy symptoms. When the body is dehydrated, it produces more histamine that causes allergy symptoms. In addition, when the respiratory and digestive systems are dehydrated, the immune system rebounds by causing nasal congestion, a runny nose, sneezing, and coughing. Hence, staying hydrated can be a good option to relieve allergy symptoms.
Lifestyle Changes 
In addition to the dietary changes, you should make several lifestyle changes to minimize exposure to allergens. These include taking and implementing some proactive and preventive measures around the house. Tiny bits of dirt and pollen stick to clothes and shoes, so once you enter your home after spending sometime outside, try changing clothes as soon as you can. Make a habit of leaving shoes outside the door to avoid bringing pollen and dust into your home. Also, use doormats to prevent pollen from coming inside with your shoes. It is suggested to wear a mask outside to prevent yourself from inhaling pollen particles. Similarly, hats and sunglasses can be worn to avoid getting pollen in your hair and eyes. Moreover, try to shower every day; water can wash off any allergen sticking to the skin or hair. Further, keep doors and windows shut on days when pollen concentration is quite high or it is windy outside. Stay indoors, especially in the morning when pollen counts are at their peak. If you have had your windows open or been going in and out of the house a lot, you may still bring allergens into your home. So, try to regularly (at least once a week) wash clothes, bedding, and furnishings, to remove some of the allergen build-ups and prevent allergic reactions. However, care should be taken when drying the laundry as pollen can cling to sheets and towels. Avoid hanging laundry outside and instead dry it inside. To keep track, you must check the daily pollen count through local TV, newspapers or the internet for pollen forecast. If you have a lawn, mow it weekly so that the lawn and the flower meadows are kept short; it can help reduce the pollen in lawn. Last but not least, you must stay away from stress-inducing situations and acts. Although constant sniffling, itching, and sneezing makes one feel stressed out, the stress must not lead to further worsening of symptoms. It is because all this negative energy will make the allergy worse, and exacerbate the seasonal symptoms, to say the least. HH

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