11 Surprising Ways You Can Stop Seasonal Allergies in Their Tracks
Taking an antihistamine isn’t the only way to battle seasonal allergies: Here’s what else you should be doing.
Alleviate your allergies
You’ve heard the standard advice before. To treat seasonal allergies, see your doctor, take an antihistamine, and avoid the allergen (read: stay inside) as much as possible—all good advice. Still, you might want to try these other savvy strategies for alleviating allergy symptoms—and improving your overall health. This is what allergists wish you knew.
Overhaul your home
It may not seem logical, but the cozy indoors is often worse for your allergies than the raw outdoors. Your home—with its fabric-covered furniture and pillows, its carpeting, tightly sealed windows, and warm, damp spaces—is like a field strewn with allergy landmines. Research shows that indoor air pollution can be up to 10 times greater than outdoor pollution and its effects much more intense, since we generally spend more than 90 percent of our time indoors. So it’s essential that you do a top-to-bottom inventory of your house to determine where allergens are congregating (bedding, carpet, damp areas, and air filters are likely spots) and clean them up. Here’s how you can keep your allergies in check when spring cleaning.
Get rid of mold
Beware of mold while you’re cleaning your home, especially as the weather warms up. Mold spores can get in your nose and cause hay fever symptoms or trigger asthma. (Here’s what you should and shouldn’t eat to beat hay fever.) Check beneath sinks, around air conditioning units, under carpet, and even on your children’s toys.
Adjust your thermostat
If you keep your home warmer than 70 degrees and at a humidity greater than 50 percent, you’re creating a perfect breeding ground for dust mites, reports health.com. Keep the thermostat at 70 degrees (or in the mid to low 60s, if you can handle it). To regulate your humidity—it should be between 40 and 45 percent—use a dehumidifier or buy a home hygrometer to measure humidity levels. An added bonus: You’ll save money on heating.
Eat the right foods
Improper eating habits can cause health problems, and make existing ones worse. Eating the right foods can help alleviate many health problems, including asthma and seasonal allergies. Medical studies have repeatedly concluded that powerful chemicals called antioxidants—found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, green tea, and other foods and beverages—help battle inflammation inside your body, a critical factor in controlling allergies. These are the antioxidant-rich foods you should be eating. Note: This advice is not for someone with a specific food allergy.
Lose your extra pounds
Obesity and being overweight have been linked to everything from heart disease to increased rates in cancer. Carrying extra pounds also makes it harder to breathe—a problem you don’t want when you’re suffering from allergies. More fat around your abdomen prevents your lungs from fully expanding and your diaphragm from moving downward, because they have to fight all that fat. In other words, you can’t get a good, deep breath. Losing weight will make getting the oxygen you need easier. Here’s how you can flatten your belly—without exercise.
Every time you’re confronted with a stressor—whether a traffic jam, fire, or bounced check—your body releases a cascade of stress hormones. They, in turn, send a volley of signals to various parts of your body to prepare it for action. If this happens day in and day out without physical release, stress can inflict its damage by affecting the very network that is supposed to guard your health: your immune system. A weakened immune system increases your chances of allergic reactions. Learning to control stress—or, at least, the way you react to stress—can help. Try these stress management tips to find the calm in your life.
Wash your hair
Pollen can get stuck in your hair, especially if you use hair gels or mousse. If you go to bed with pollen head, you’ll be coughing and sneezing all night long. Washing your hair before you hit the sack is a quick way to stop allergy symptoms. Here’s the truth about allergy myths you’ve probably always believed.
Wash your bedding, too
Your bed sheets pick up a lot of unwelcome oils and particles. Keep them free of dust mites and allergens by washing them once a week in in hot water (at least 140 degrees). Try these other smart strategies to keep your house dust-free.
Drink these teas
A cup of peppermint or chamomile tea every night could ease your allergy symptoms. Peppermint can help reduce inflammation, and chamomile is known as a natural antihistamine around the world. Pair your drink with these natural allergy remedies, and you’ll be set for the entire season.
Complement your regular allergy medication with alternative remedies
The following substances, when paired with your regular antihistamine, may relieve allergy symptoms:
- A daily multivitamin and mineral supplement that includes magnesium, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and all the B vitamins (These are the vitamin secrets doctors tell their friends.)
- Your choice of herbal supplements, dried ivy leaf, or pycnogenol
- A daily dose of echinacea taken two weeks on, two weeks off