Take a look outside. The greening lawns, clearing skies, flowering trees—do they fill you with a spirit of anticipation and renewal?
If spring inspires in you a hint of dread, you’re not alone. This time of year can be torture for the many who suffer from seasonal allergies. The yearly onslaught of pollen and mold spores can trigger symptoms that take a real toll on both pleasure and productivity.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go into this battle unarmed—and no, your only defense does not have to be by prescription, with all those unpleasant side effects. Here are a few sensible measures you can take to reduce both your exposure and your body’s response to spring’s all-too-common allergens.
1. Eat yourself healthy.
“Eat across the rainbow” is a smart strategy for choosing fruits and vegetables anytime, but it may be especially helpful when you anticipate battling seasonal allergies. Produce is satisfyingly sweet yet low in the sugar that can contribute to the excessive inflammatory reaction—which typically accompanies congestion and itching. What’s more, those colorful fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants that boost your body’s natural defense systems.
It’s true some fruits and vegetables may worsen seasonal allergies. For example, those who are allergic to birch pollen may suffer additional symptoms after eating apples or cherries. This type of cross-reactivity is not uncommon, but interestingly, for many people, the solution may be as simple as not eating these foods raw. Heat can change a food’s chemical signature enough to render it innocuous.
And don’t forget to load your plate with garlic, fenugreek, onions, wild-caught fish, and horseradish. These foods may loosen nasal congestion, reduce inflammatory response, and boost general immunity.
2. Quell stress.
Believe it or not, the same triggers that create everyday tension can also exacerbate your body’s response to allergens—and vice versa. Your body’s extreme cortisol response will only continue to rise if you’re constantly bothered by seasonal allergies. Now that’s a vicious cycle! Fortunately, you’ll find no shortage of ways to reduce your stress level. Meditation, journaling, acupuncture, exercise, music, massage—now is a wonderful time to rely on your tried-and-true stress management techniques and, better yet, add a new method or two to your stress-busting arsenal.
3. Check the clock before you head out.
Pollen counts tend to be highest between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. If you must be out of doors during these times, keep car windows up, use the re-circulate setting in the car’s air system, and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from itchy pollens.
4. …and check your shoes when you return.
If possible, remove your shoes before you reenter your home to prevent tracking in allergens. A quick, warm shower (don’t neglect to rinse your hair, too) will remove additional irritants.
5. HEPA to it!
When was the last time you replaced the filters in your home’s air/heat system? If you can’t remember, it’s time. Look for a HEPA filter, which will keep more irritants out of the air than conventional ones. Good news: HEPA filters are available for vacuum cleaners, too. Speaking of vacuums…
6. Clean your home wisely.
Dusting and vacuuming regularly and thoroughly is a realistic defense against pollens and other seasonal allergens that make their way into your house. (Pssst! Again, don’t forget that mask.) But skip the household cleansers. Allergies aren’t caused by microbes. Using chemicals for this job is at best, unnecessary—and at worst, counterproductive. Detergents and disinfectants often contain synthetic perfumes, dyes, and other chemicals that are just as irritating as pollen.
7. Put irritants to bed—but not with you.
Not only do you spend quite a bit of time in your bedroom yourself (you are getting plenty of sleep each night, right?), it’s also a prime spot for dust mites to thrive. Wash your linens frequently in hot water to reduce dust mites, and use dust mite preventive cases on your pillows. And please, no matter how beautiful the weather, don’t line-dry your bedding. That just invites new allergens back in. ’Tis the season to tumble dry.
With some forward thinking and smart action, you can greatly reduce the negative impact seasonal allergens have on your life. Imagine being able to enjoy the beauties and promise of spring—how refreshing! Looking for more ways to renew and recharge your outlook in this season? Give me a call at 212-686-0939. I’d be honored to guide you.