April showers bring May flowers…and allergies!
The many beauties and wonders of spring are fast approaching. Warmer weather, longer days and budding trees fill us with joy and happiness, while reminding us that summer is not far behind. But for many, the spring showers and the blossoming plant life bring along spring allergy symptoms. For allergy sufferers, you know that springtime means itchy, watery eyes, a running nose, sneezing, congestion and sinus headaches. As you can imagine, these symptoms can put quite a damper on outdoor spring activities.
May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’re not alone. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that about 36 million people in the United States suffer from seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis.
For severe allergies, for example allergies that cause anaphylaxis, it is important to talk to your doctor about what treatment options are available to you. However, for minor allergies there are many over-the-counter treatments and home remedies that you can try to help alleviate your symptoms.
- A Neti pot or saline spray can help thin mucus and clear the nasal passages. Most Neti pots should come with a set of instructions and are filled with a salt-water mixture. It is important to use ONLY boiled or distilled water, as tap water can contain potentially harmful organisms. Saline sprays can thin mucus, decrease postnasal drip and cleanse nasal passages of bacteria, while reducing inflammation and restoring moisture.
- Steam is a great way to clear your nasal passages. The warmth and steam of a hot shower can not only open up your sinus cavities, but help wash away allergens such as pollen and dust that can trigger allergy symptoms. If you don’t want to shower every time you have sinus congestion, pour a few cups of boiling water into a bowl, drape a towel over your head (creating a tent over you and the bowl), and deeply inhale for about 5-10 minutes. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil if you like the cooling relief of menthol.
- Spicy foods such as chili peppers, wasabi, garlic, horseradish and Dijon mustard are go-to foods for many to clear up sinus cavities and nasal passages. Although these spicy foods can temporarily clear you up, there is no supporting evidence that the effects are long lasting.
- Tea has many health benefits, but did you know it can also help with congestion? Specifically, the menthol and essential oils in peppermint tea can break up and clear out mucus. Peppermint also contains anti-inflammatory and mild antibacterial substances.
- Washing your pet frequently can help eliminate pet dander and other allergens that pets might bring in from the outdoors. Talk to your veterinarian about what type of soap to use, or just rinse your pet with warm water every other week.
Do you have any home remedies for treating allergy symptoms? If so, please share them with us!
Photo Credit: Promanex