According to the calendar, we’re more than halfway through spring. But ask anyone who suffers from seasonal allergies, and you’ll hear that the prime period of ah-CHOO! is far from over.
Nature, and our bodies’ responses to it, just won’t follow a manmade schedule. Fortunately, if you’re self-aware and purposeful in your self-care, you can do a lot to reduce the misery—regardless of whether your individual triggers are most active in spring, summer, or fall.
Best of all, you don’t have to resort to remedies that have undesirable side effects to find relief from seasonal allergies.
- Identify the problem.
Before we begin tackling allergy relief, let’s address a question that comes up regularly with my in-office patients and virtual coaching clients: “Roberta, I just don’t know. Is this an allergy or a cold?”
True that nasal/sinus congestion is a symptom common to both colds and allergies, but you can look for clues to which is actually bothering you—and then treat accordingly.
- Does your congestion last for a few days to a week, or does it hang around longer? A cold produces congestion only as long as your body is fighting it. Allergies can persist throughout an entire season—and often during that same season, year after year.
- Is your congestion joined by a mild fever or body aches? These side symptoms are not typical of allergies.
- Are your eyes or throat itchy? Allergies can certainly do that. But if you’d describe that irritation as “sore” rather than “scratchy,” you may have a cold or other microbe at work, not allergens.
- Is the drainage thin and clear? Allergies produce a watery mucus, whereas a cold stimulates thicker, discolored drainage.
- Keep your home clean, wisely.
Dusting and vacuuming regularly and thoroughly is a realistic defense against pollens and other seasonal allergens that make their way into your house. (Psst! Be sure to put on a dust mask before you begin.)
But please, don’t scour your home with harsh cleansers. Using chemicals to eliminate allergens is at best, unnecessary. These cleaners are designed to kill microbes or break up grease, not just remove surface allergens. Worse, the dyes and perfumes commercial cleansers often contain can be just as offensive to a sensitive system as the heaviest pollen. Better to skip them.
And on the subject of cleanliness…
- Eject freeloaders!
Mold spores, pollen, and other irritants cling to hair, skin, and clothing—meaning once you’re exposed, you end up carrying those unwelcome substances around with you. A few simple practices can help to keep irritants that hitchhike on your body to a minimum.
- Move your shower-and-shampoo routine to evening. Leaving home with damp hair or skin in the morning invites allergens to stick to you—literally—all day. Instead, wash them away when you come home. Bonus: Showering at night means keeping these irritants out of your bed, too.
- Leave your shoes at the door to keep from tracking allergens into your home.
- Try nasal irrigation, such as with a neti pot, to flush allergens from inside your nasal passages. Ah—freer breathing!
- Machine-dry your laundry, and keep windows closed. If you’re suffering from allergies, this is no time to enjoy “fresh air.”
- Change and wash clothes after every outdoor wearing, and
- Wash bed linens frequently in hot water to reduce dust mites.
- Take acupuncture with you.
No time for an allergy-relief acupuncture treatment today? Here’s a little trick from my “acupuncture-to-go” toolbox that I like to share with my patients:
- Place a finger on each side of the inner eyebrow and then on each side of the bottom of your nostril.
- Press for 15 seconds.
- Repeat as often as necessary to help to relieve congestion and sinus pressure.
That’s it—simple, effective, and perfectly portable!
- Eat colorfully.
One of my favorite sayings is “Eat across the rainbow.” It’s my way of reminding clients to select fruits and vegetables in a wide array of types and shades—from deeply hued blueberries and grapes and dark leafy greens, to the mostly brightly colored citrus and peppers. It’s an easy and appealing way of ensuring you get a varied and complete palate of healthful nutrients including minerals, vitamins (especially those powerful antioxidants), and fiber.
Eating across the rainbow is a smart practice every day, but it is especially wellness-forward during allergy season. Allergic symptoms are a form of inflammatory reaction, and fresh, whole foods minimize that inflammation. Reducing or eliminating other inflammatory triggers like caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods is a wise second step to “eating across the rainbow.”
In short: Making certain your body is fueled right will keep your defenses sharp and help prevent the energy drain that comes with fighting allergies.
No doubt, seasonal allergies can put a damper on a person’s goals and activities. But I hope you’re feeling empowered by the knowledge that allergy symptoms can be managed well with forward thinking and smart, holistic practices on your part. And as always, if you’re looking for personalized, professional guidance through this challenging season, I’m here to help. Give me a call at 212-686-0939. Together, we can chart your path to more comfortable, elegant living!