Manage Your Allergies Holistically, With spring on the way, do your thoughts turn to sunny days and kite flying, or hay fever and puffy eyes? If allergies have been ruining your season, here are three ways to manage your allergies holistically to relieve your symptoms naturally.
Make Sure You’re Not Sick With a Viral or Bacterial Infection
It can sometimes be difficult to tell allergies apart from viruses like Coronavirus, as well as ordinary colds and flu. One reason is that hay fever (AKA allergic rhinitis) can share certain symptoms with Covid-19 and other viruses, such as a sore throat, runny nose, and headaches. However, there are differences:
- Hay fever typically involves itching, which isn’t a symptom of the other conditions. Swollen, puffy eyelids are another symptom of hay fever that isn’t typical of viruses.
- Despite the name, hay fever doesn’t actually cause fever. If you’re running a fever, it’s most likely not a result of allergies.
- Coronavirus may cause a stuffy nose, however, the symptom is much more common with hay fever.
- Hay fever is triggered by exposure to environmental allergens. You’ll typically suffer it whenever you’re exposed to pollen, mold, pet dander, certain foods, and/or other allergens that are specific to you. If you get a runny nose every spring when plants start blooming, or you start sneezing whenever you pet your friend’s cat, your symptoms are probably allergic.
- Unless you suffer from asthma, hay fever generally won’t cause shortness of breath. If you have this symptom, you’re more likely to have an infection, such as the flu or Covid-19.
Should I Use Antihistamines?
Antihistamines are a common first-line allergy treatment, which can help reduce allergic symptoms like congestion and sneezing. While antihistamines are generally safe and do provide some relief, they have a number of side effects you should be aware of.
Some of these side effects, like dry mouth and drowsiness, are pretty minor. However, antihistamines can lead to more serious side effects like nausea and vomiting, confusion, and blurred vision. Additionally, antihistamines may interact with other medications, so it’s important to check for interactions before taking them — even if you’re using over-the-counter antihistamines.
For severe allergies, antihistamines are sometimes necessary. However, unless your allergies are debilitating or life-threatening, you may want to try to manage your allergies holistically before taking pharmaceuticals. Always talk to your doctor before making any changes to your medical regimen.
Use a Neti Pot / Nasal Irrigation
Nasal irrigation is the process of cleaning out your nose and sinuses using a saline mixture. The saltwater clears out allergens like pollen, along with mucus and bacteria, relieving congestion. Traditionally, this is done with a neti pot — essentially a small pitcher with a spout that fits in your nose — but today there are also various bulbs, spray bottles, and other devices available as well.
To use a neti pot, start with distilled water or tap water that has been boiled for 3-5 minutes and cooled to a comfortable temperature. Make a mixture of 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, mixed with 16 ounces of water (the baking soda isn’t strictly necessary, but it makes the mixture less irritating to your sinuses.)
Pour the solution into a clean neti pot. Tilt your head at about a 45-degree angle over the sink, and gently pour the saline into the nostril that is higher. It will flow out your other nostril into the sink. When you’re done, gently blow your nose, tilt your head to the other side, and repeat.
Adding a tiny bit of peppermint oil can help clear out sinus congestion. However, too much can irritate the sinuses. For severe allergies, try adding a single drop in your neti pot, and shake it well, before pouring it through your nostril.
Eat Natural Antihistamines
Histamine is a natural part of your immune system. Your body releases it to combat threats, infections, and injuries. But when you’re allergic, your body releases the histamine in response to normal things in your environment, like pollen or pet dander.
Antihistamines relieve allergies by tamping down your allergic reaction. While there are many over-the-counter antihistamines available, these natural antihistamines may help you relieve your symptoms without popping a pill.
Vitamin C: This powerful antioxidant is also a natural antihistamine! You can get it from many healthy fruits and vegetables, like kiwis and oranges, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Butterbur: Extracted from a shrub, this natural ingredient can help manage migraines, as well as allergic symptoms.
Bromelain: Get this healthy allergy-suppressant from pineapple or in supplement form.
Quercetin: This antioxidant may help reduce inflammation in your airways, helping you breathe easier. It’s naturally present in apples, berries, peppers, onions, and even green and black tea!
Probiotics: In addition to balancing gut bacteria and helping with a range of digestive complaints, probiotics may help relieve allergies.
Manuka Honey: Raw honey in general can be helpful for fighting allergies, and manuka honey is particularly effective. Like other types of honey, manuka honey can help desensitize you to local environmental allergens contained in pollen, potentially making you less allergic over time. Additionally, manuka honey contains methylglyoxal or MGL, an ingredient that treats nasal mucus. This helps to relieve your runny nose when your allergies act up.
Wedderspoon Manuka Honey is an extremely high-quality product, sourced exclusively from New Zealand. This Non-GMO Project verified, raw, unpasteurized honey can help relieve your allergic runny nose and make you feel less congested.
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