For more than 35 million Americans, the change of seasons from winter to spring heralds more than just the start of baseball games and better weather. . .it also means seasonal allergies are just around the corner.
Allergies are an inappropriate response by the body’s immune system to a substance that is not normally harmful. In some people, the immune system wrongly identifies a nontoxic substance as an invader, and the white blood cells overreact and do more damage to the body than the invader. Thus, the allergic response becomes a disease in itself. The most common allergens include: pollen, mold, dust, certain metals, cosmetics, animal hair, insect venom, food additives, and chemicals found in soap and washing powder.
- Clean bedroom thoroughly and frequently to decrease antigen exposure.
- Encase pillows, comforters, mattresses, and box springs in zippered allergen impermeable dust proof casings.
- Avoid purchasing foam rubber pillows and mattresses as they are more likely to harbor molds.
- Wash blankets, sheets, pillowcases and mattress pads every week in HOT WATER! Use hypoallergenic/additive free detergent. Hot water kills dust mites. Cold or warm water does not. Put all pillows in dryer for 30 minutes weekly to kill dust mites.
- Keep closet doors in bedroom closed.
- If you have an indoor pet, keep them out of the bedroom and cover air ducts that lead to the bedroom with filters.
- Wet dust furniture in bedroom weekly.
- Install a high quality HEPA air filter to remove airborne allergen particles, molds, animal dander and pollutants. Change filters monthly on heating system and ducts in bedroom.
- Use a dilute bleach solution around window edges if mold is suspected. Dehumidifiers can also help with mold problems.
- Avoid mothballs, furniture polishes, and air fresheners. Substitute non toxic, environmentally friendly alternatives for chemical based products.
- Twice daily nasal irrigation with a netipot or saline rinse has been shown to significantly reduce allergy symptoms. To learn more about how to use a netipot, see our blog!
- For itchy eyes, try over the counter Similasan Allergy Eye Relief drops.
- Several herbal medicines like Nettles and Eyebright, and nutrients such as Bromelain, Quercitin and Fish Oils have also been studied and shown to help with allergy symptoms. See your doctor to discuss if these nutrients are right for you.
- Homeopathic remedies such as Apis, Urticaria, Euphrasia and Allersodes of pollens and trees can also provide tremendous relief.
- Antihistamines and decongestants are the most common medications used for allergies. Though useful, antihistamines can cause drowsiness, and decongestants may actually worsen nose stuffiness if used for more than 3 days.
- Allergy shots may be helpful for those with severe allergies, but the best treatment is still identifying and avoiding your child’s allergy triggers.