Friday, 20 April 2012

Seasonal allergies are yucky!

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Photo by Sandra Lee Schubert
Sunshine is free and, with the nice weather and more free time, I've been capitalizing on it. Like I mentioned in my last post, I'm trying to bring more of my workout (and general enjoyment) into the outdoors. Biking, running on the mountain, and walks have all become nice parts of my week. However, there's one thing about this beautiful weather that gives me a bit of worry. My *GASP* seasonal allergies.

I hate these guys, always mucking up my face, playing with my asthma, and just generally being kind of a jackasses. I want no more of that. But how will I attempt to banish these foul foes? Read on.



Eat, Drink, and Be Merry.

In general, eating a well-balanced diet is a good start to a healthier season. On top of a strong base, you might want to add or subtract a few things from your diet. For example, quercitin has some promise for helping with allergies, asthma, and a host of other ailments. Whether or not a supplement is a good idea depends on the person, however the natural form of this flavanoid ought to be a part of everyone's diets. There are several good sources, including citrus fruits, onions, blueberries, and apples, so eat up.

Though I haven't been able to find the original study, many sources site a German experiment published in Allergy Magazine whiche states that Omega 3 eaten regularly may help you avoid allergy symptoms. Since Omega 3 appears to be generally good for you at the recommended dose, it seems like a good idea to me. Fish is an excellent source, but for us veggies, we have it even better with ground flax seed or oil as well as walnuts. Here's a list of a few more sources for your perusal. 

While you're shopping, pick up some strawberries, papayas, or bell peppers; they're rich in vitamin C which may help bolster the immune system over time. The same article also recommends an increase in magnesium to help with asthma as well allergies. For this, you may want to add some almonds, spinach, or wheat bran to the list.

Though you're grabbing more of certain foods, beware of others. According to Web MD, not only should you be avoiding foods to which you may be sensitive, but if ragweed is your foe, chamomile, echinacea, melon, banana, cucumber, and sunflower seeds can also worsen you plight.

On the bright and simple side, that salt you're using for the neti pot is also useful for reducing the pain of a sore throat. As mentioned there as well, you might want to try some spicy foods to help thin out that nasty stuff. And, as always get plenty of liquids.

Green tea, particularly benifuuki, might be an especially helpful one, as studies have shown the potential benefits of the beverage. Lester A. Mitscher, PhD recommends drinking 2 to 3 cups of that good stuff to help with allergies.


Photo by OakleyOriginals

Less is more. 

Technically, this is more about avoiding the allergens than facing them head on, but if it helps, it helps.  Firstly, if you've got to be outside, stay away from the thing you're allergic to, but also avoid highways and other chemical irritants. According to Malcolm N. Blumenthal, MD, this can worsen your allergic reaction. Makes sense to me (who thinks your body can only take so much stress at once) and Scientific America who published an article about VOCs potentially worsening allergies and asthma.

Secondly, avoid peak times, which are generally early afternoon or mid-day, especially when you're exercising (increasing your rate of breathing). Web MD, which has many tips on activities and allergies, recommends this and points out that it still leaves you with the evening and morning. Note that some days may be better than others, so remember to check the pollen count (which is often available with the weather). If it's particularly high, you may want to stay away. If you do go out, wear sunglasses. Not only are they helpful in the glare, but they minimize the pollen getting into your eyes. Double-whammy! Also, try to avoid synthetic fabrics, as synthetic fabrics can not only attract pollen, but be more hospitable to mold- yuck!

Lastly, if you're going to go into the pollen, wash it off and out. Take a shower before bed, after all, there's no sense bringing the enemy with you. Another handy idea to try is a Neti pot or other nasal irrigation contraption. I picked one up at the pharmacy for about 12$ and given the positive reaction to the ancient practice, I'm eager to try it. * Word to the wise- follow the instructions, including the bit about using cooled boiled water, etc. to avoid unwanted side affects of this relatively safe routine.
Photo by trumanlo


Know which medication to use and how to use it.

If you do find yourself reaching for an over-the-counter or prescription meds, you're going to want to make sure that you're taking what's best for you. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to determine what is most likely to work for you, if you need to be taking any other meds for aggravated conditions such as asthma, or if you should be trying other methods. All antihimistamines are not created equal and you'll want to be ware of the ups and downs of each type. Be sure to mention any medical conditions, other substances you are taking, if you're pregnant, or are sensitive to medications. This is very important because, trust me, a reactions to things that are supposed to make you feel better is no fun.

Best Health mag recommends that you begin taking your allergy meds as soon as the pollen count starts rising and keep taking them until the season's over (bearing in mind that different allergens have different seasons). Check out the article; it also has a useful list of some different types of over-the-counter options.
Photo by rolfekolbe


With this info in hand, I intend to tackle the season (as though I have a choice) and hopefully come through without puffy eyes. I'm curious to know if you have any particularly effective or interesting ways of dealing with your allergies? I've heard wonderful things about acupuncture- has anyone tried it?  Let me know. And- if you like what you read, don't forget to share, subscribe, or follow me on Twitter or Pinterest.

Live well, Charlotte

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