Seasonal allergies are the scourge of spring. The weather is warming up, the snow has melted, the sun is shining and it seems like things are finally looking up, so of course, the sniffles set in.
But here’s the thing. You don’t have to spend the next six weeks constantly feeling a need to scratch your eyeballs out while snot simultaneously drips down your face. There are a handful of ways you can use these last few days of winter weather to prepare for allergy season.
“In my practice, patients are instructed to go on allergy alert a few weeks before the season starts,” says Dr. Clifford Bassett, MD, author of The New Allergy Solution.
Your body launches inflammatory chemicals in reaction to allergens like pollen or dust. Those chemicals — histamines — are what cause seasonal sneezing, itching, and congestion. But thankfully, a few simple steps can help ensure that those symptoms are much milder this year, or even non-existent.
If last year’s treatments didn’t work as well as you’d hoped, your regular family practice doctor may be able to recommend something new.
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Pull out the vacuum, sweep your floors, use a microfiber cloth to clear out those dusty blinds and corners. Having a clean environment will prevent the dirt and hair and pet dander that built up over the winter from triggering or irritating your allergies.
The way that most allergy medications work, is simply by stopping those histamines from inflaming, but green tea can help slow that process too.
Dr. Fred Pescatore, MD, MPH, CCN, author of “The Allergy and Asthma Cure” says green tea is loaded with the antioxidants that boost antihistamine properties.
“Drinking one or two cups a day in the weeks leading up to allergy season can block histamines and reduce congestion,” Pescatore says.
You might not even know if you have air filters; check your AC ducts, portable air purifiers or AC window units. Air filters stop airborne allergens from spreading throughout your home. Fewer allergens mean less chance that you will breathe them in.
Like anything, those filters get old and will work less efficiently. Getting in the habit of regularly installing fresh filters could prevent those allergens from irritating your symptoms.
Many plants have air-purifying qualities. Bamboo palms, ficus trees, peace lilies and spider plants are just to name a few.
“They may potentially clean and scrub away indoor air pollutants,” Dr. Bassett says. Household plants purifying the air would lead to less respiratory or sinus irritation, again meaning fewer symptoms from seasonal allergies.