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How Big is the Problem of Allergic Suffering?
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), allergies are common and on the rise. Worldwide, allergic rhinitis (irritation of the sinuses) is a misery 10 to 30 percent live with. And if you thought pollens were your major source of allergic discomfort, be comforted. Pollens are the main allergen group globally. The goal of this column is always to help you find the most effective, most natural, and least expensive solutions to anything that is causing stress and misery in your life. So here is some basic information to help you thrive, rather than survive. And here are my top 16 tips for beating allergy suffering.
As you have noticed, tissue in hand, peak allergy season is upon us. Now, in many parts of the country, the misery of allergy stress is keeping sufferers from enjoying life. Sniffles, congestion, headaches, sore throats, raspy voices, brain fog, fatigue, and even nausea are all symptoms people are having this week. For those who want to track the density of pollen in their area, websites like Pollen.com can send out a daily email alert, with a rating of 0 to 12, and the types of pollens that are high that day. Designate your location and you’ll find out, for example, that Phoenix is high in Ash, Poplar, and Mulberry pollens. Today’s level is 8.7, and tomorrow is expected to be 7.8. So tomorrow is a better day for gardening, and today is a better day to wear a mask outside. Pollen.com also has an app called Allergy Plus, which is free.
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What are some medications you could use?
Everyone knows there are over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines of several different types. If you have been taking one, and it isn’t working while a particular pollen is high, you may want to try another type of antihistamine. Also, there is now a different type of (prescription) medication for allergy, an antileukotreine, that may work better for you. A popular prescription brand is Singulair, with the generic name Montelukast. Check with your doctor about symptoms and possible interactions with other drugs you may be taking.
What are some natural allergy solutions?
Yes– this column is usually about natural solutions! And these tend to be low-cost and pleasant, with quick- and also extended relief. Here are some you may want to try.
- Rinse your sinuses with salt water. You can purchase a pot with a pointed end through which to sniff or snort the salt water. It might be called a neti pot. Be sure to follow the instructions on keeping the pot clean. You can also put warm water and a pinch of salt in a small bowl, and simply sniff or snort the salt water. Hold your head back or down, and hold your nostrils, to get the salt water into your sinuses. Blow the water and possibly mucus out and repeat several times; you may also want to gargle with the leftover salt water. There are packets of salt available to add to your warm water.
- Check your spice cabinet for ginger powder. Mix ½ teaspoon ginger powder into a cup of warm, filtered (chlorine-removed) water. Stir and drink. Feel your symptoms improving in minutes. Yes, fresh ginger root, grated and pressed through cheesecloth or a tea filter, is wonderful. But when you are feeling bad, and you want immediate improvement, just add the ginger powder to your water. The ginger is very yang, and it will balance out the yin symptoms of allergies. If you prefer, you can take ginger in capsules, which you can buy in any health food store—empty, for you to fill, or already filled. Oil of oregano capsules work for some.
- If the roof of your mouth is prickly, try drinking freshly squeezed orange juice.
- Look for homeopathics. For Arizona, Allergena for Zone 6, 2 ounce, may sufficiently solve your seasonal allergies.
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Reducing the allergens you take in
- Change your home’s air filter to one that has many accordion-type folds across its can be the most irritating. Research has proven that this type of filter removes almost all of the provocative particles, so spend the extra $8 for this type. Your improved sleep at night and your increased productivity during the day will be worth much more than that.
- Use local air filters in each room. You can run room-size air filter units ($39 to $450), parking one near your work area and one near your sleep zone. Some types are totally silent, and some make a humming or whirring sound. Some require purchased replacement filters, and some simply have a contact plate inside to wipe clean. Play around with different models, to find the best type for you and your budget.
- Outside, filter what you breathe. Wear a mask if you like—never reverse it! And have a fresh air filter installed in your car. There is probably also an “air recirculate” setting on your car air conditioner or heater. Use that to limit the amount of fresh air coming in.
- Vacuum and dust. Allergens such as dust can make your seasonal allergies worse. Use a water-bath vacuum if you have one, and use a damp cloth for dusting.
- Try a salt lamp. Salt lamps favorably change the ions in the room, and they are said to purify the air. Until more research is done, think of salt lamps as pleasant glowy things that offer a comforting, soft light, and may be beneficial to your health. These are available in white or amber, in natural mineral shapes and as spheres, from golf-ball size to bowling-ball size. My office has an 8” round salt lamp in each room, with embedded dimmer switches; found online, they were about $35 each.
- Wash and dry your hair every night. Yes! Your hair efficiently picks up odors, smoke, dust, and pollens, during the day. Then, when you lie down to sleep, you are breathing a special concentration of the very irritants that are causing your allergy stress. So wash that hair every night.
- Put a small, fresh towel across your pillow every night. Especially if nightly hair washing doesn’t work for your lifestyle, at least you can give yourself a clean surface to sleep on every night. In the morning, throw that little towel in the wash and launder it on HOT with natural detergent. Dry it on HOT. You can also use a bath towel you have folded into a pillow size and shape.
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Strengthen your system
- Place the palms or heels of your hands to the sides of your neck and gently rock across the sore muscles. Notice how tight your shoulder tops are. Now gently stretch your shoulders in every direction for 2 minutes. Notice your congestion calming and your head feeling less heavy.
- Do yoga or chikung (Chinese yoga) to increase breath. Ask your yoga- or chikung teacher, or try these exercises: in yoga, do Suryanamaskar, the Salutation to the Sun. In chikung, do the Northwest Exercise.
- Take Vitamin C and combinations containing it. Vitamin C increases breath and strengthens your blood vessels. Some Vitamin C supplements are available with other helpful vitamins, minerals or herbs that may reduce your allergy symptoms. The two most popular are Emergen-C and Airborne.
- Elevate your head when sleeping. If you are very congested, despite your best efforts, sleep on a wedge pillow or simply add an extra pillow. As always, experiment to make it the most comfortable.
See your doctor if you see funny colors. If your throat feels raw, or your nasal discharge is white or green, it may be time to let your doctor check for strep and its friends. Infections are even less fun than allergies!
Have fun experimenting with a few, or all, of these natural helps. Remember, what relieves your allergy stress may or may not work for your friend or your relative. Hopefully, you’ll be much more comfortable after using these tips, and you’ll be able to enjoy your life during pollen season.
So plan ahead and set yourself up for comfort and energy during pollen season! Now exhale completely and enjoy this beautiful Spring! And that’s you: more and more Healthy Happy and Loving Lifesm.
Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert, holistic healer, and award-winning author who celebrates life. She has a longtime natural healing practice and is an ordained minister. Among her books are: Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br), Inspirations for Peace Within: Quotes and Images to Uplift and Inspire, and Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine. The books are available on Amazon and through Kebba’s office. They are also available in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the Franciscan Renewal Center bookstore and at the bookstore at St. Barnabas on the Desert Episcopal Church. Or simply email us to order: firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you!