How To Combat Allergies

| 3 min read

Allergy concept. Young asian woman sneezes and blowing her nose with a handkerchief and suffering in the spring among flowering and blooming trees.
Spring time is here, which means the trees, flowers and grass are flourishing. Unfortunately, this also means more pollen and lots of sneezing, itchy eyes, and sinus headaches.
Hay fever and allergies effect many people. More than 50 million Americans have at least one allergy, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. They are also the sixth leading cause of chronic illness.

The Trigger

Pollen is released into the air by plants and trees to help fertilize other plant life. The body sees pollen as foreign and antibodies form to attack it, which in turn displays itself as cold-like symptoms.
Pollen can travel for miles and is produced by trees, grass and weeds. Different parts of the country have more pollen than others.


Antihistamines reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching by lowering the amount of histamine (the substance produced during an allergic reaction) in the body. There are other ways to treat allergies, such as:
  • Decongestants – clear mucus out of the nasal passageways to relieve congestion and swelling
  • Antihistamine/decongestants – combine the effects of both drugs
  • Nasal spray decongestants – relieve congestion and may clear clogged nasal passages faster than oral decongestants
  • Cromolyn sodium nasal spray – can help prevent hay fever by stopping the release of histamine before it can trigger allergy symptoms
  • Eye drops – relieve itchy, watery eyes
Some other ways to take care of allergies are:
  • Butterbur – this herb, which comes from a European shrub, shows potential for relieving seasonal allergy symptoms
  • Quercetin – this flavonoid, which is found naturally in onions, apples, and black tea, has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown in research to block histamines
  • Stinging nettle – the roots and leaves of the stinging nettle plant have been used to treat everything from joint pain to prostate problems
  • Nasal irrigation – with a combination of warm water, about a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and a quarter-teaspoon of baking soda, this may help clear out mucus and open sinus passages. You can administer the solution through a squeeze bottle or a neti pot — a device that looks like a small teapot.

Food Allergies

May 9-15 is Food Allergy Awareness Week. Food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern that affect an estimated 8% of U.S. children. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Food allergies occur when the body’s immune system mistakes an ingredient in food, usually a protein, as harmful. Just like the pollen in the body, antibodies are then produced to fight it and create a defense. The most common food allergies are:
  • Peanuts
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Almonds
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Soy products
Some symptoms that indicate a food allergy or food intolerance include:
  • Rash or hives
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Itchy skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling of the airways to the lungs
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Gas, cramps, or bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Headaches
  • Irritability or nervousness

Allergy Diagnosis

To determine if you have an allergy, pay attention to your body, especially when you are outdoors and when you eat certain foods. The next step is to see your doctor and potentially an allergist. The allergist will conduct a skin scratch test which will help determine what you are allergic to and how severely you are allergic to it. From there, the doctor will advise you according to the results.
Knowing what you are allergic to is half the battle. Once diagnosed properly by a doctor, you can get the proper medication. You will start feeling better, too. Achoo!
If you found this post helpful, make sure to check out:
Photo Credit: Getty

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
No Personal Healthcare Advice or Other Advice
This Web site provides general educational information on health-related issues and provides access to health-related resources for the convenience of our users. This site and its health-related information and resources are not a substitute for professional medical advice or for the care that patients receive from their physicians or other health care providers.
This site and its health-related information resources are not meant to be the practice of medicine, the practice of nursing, or to carry out any professional health care advice or service in the state where you live. Nothing in this Web site is to be used for medical or nursing diagnosis or professional treatment.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed health care provider. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any new treatment, or if you have any questions regarding a health condition. You should not disregard medical advice, or delay seeking medical advice, because of something you read in this site.