Living with a serious allergy is stressful and worrying. You can avoid certain triggers to a point, but never completely. So it’s always best to be prepared to react to an attack.
Even if you suffer from allergies related to dust or pollen, the symptoms can be pretty unpleasant. Watery eyes, a running nose, sneezing and other cold-like symptoms are bad enough. But things can get really serious if you have respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do before things get this bad. You don’t have to suffer in silence. If you’d rather treat the symptoms of your allergy naturally, there are a few methods available to you.
1. Wear a mask
Have you ever seen people wearing a mask as they walk down a busy city centre street? They do this for a very good reason. Pollutants in the air can cause breathing problems and lung damage — the consequences of which can be catastrophic if you already have an underlying problem.
You can prevent yourself from breathing in dust, dirt, pollen, pollution and other triggers by wearing an N95 respirator mask. They’re available online and from many pharmacies, and they’re capable of blocking around 95 percent of small, airborne particles.
2. Switch to natural cleaning products
Particularly if you already have underlying health conditions, cleaning chemicals can cause some serious breathing problems. Certain chemicals can also cause skin irritations. Instead of relying on chemical sprays and liquids, switch to natural cleaning substances wherever possible. Lemon juice, white vinegar and baking soda are capable of cleaning just about anything.
Vinegar, for example, is perfect for sanitising worktops. You can clean everything from grouting to an oven with a paste of baking soda and lemon juice. Make a cleaning solution with water, lemon juice and vinegar. You could even add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to give it a pleasant aroma.
3. Rinse your nose
You might rinse your mouth every time you brush your teeth, but when was the last time you rinsed your nose — or your nasal passage, to be more precise. A nasal rinse can clear mucus and contaminants from your nose, giving you much-needed relief from allergy symptoms.
You can buy nasal rinses in pharmacies. It is possible to make them with iodide-free salt, distilled water and baking soda, but the safest option is usually a product bought from a reputable retailer.
4. Trap allergens in the home
You will never remove all the allergens from your home. The best you can expect is to reduce them to a level that doesn’t cause you any serious problems. A simple way to do this is to cover air conditioning vents with a wet cloth. Where possible, use HEPA filters and extraction fans around your home.
Vacuum your carpets and floors with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter — or an equivalent technology. Older cleaners tend to release a lot of pollen back into the air.
5. Use dehumidifiers at home
A humid home can be a nightmare for an allergy sufferer. Insects and mites thrive in humid climates. And if their numbers get out of control, the dust and allergens in your home can increase very quickly. Not only that, humidity leads to mould, which can also exacerbate allergy symptoms. Position dehumidifiers in the dampest areas of your home. And clean them at least once a week.
6. Close your windows
You probably already take certain steps to remove dust and allergens from your home. Dusting, vacuuming and some of the measures listed above can help. But all your hard work could be for nothing if more allergens are allowed to float into your home through open windows.
While it’s not always easy during allergy season, keeping windows closed is the easiest way to prevent allergens from outside entering your home. At the very least, keep your windows closed during the afternoon — when pollen in particular is at its height. You can always keep the temperature down with blinds, shades, fans and air conditioning.
7. Take butterbur extract
Butterbur is a herb that has helped people to alleviate the symptoms of hayfever and other allergies. While research on the herb is still ongoing, it is thought that butterbur slows down the production of histamines and leukotrienes.
You can buy supplements containing butterbur from health foods stores and pharmacies. However, you shouldn’t take them if you’re allergic to ragweed plants such as the marigold, daisy and chrysanthemum. Speak to a doctor before taking any medication — even if it’s natural.
8. Take carotenoids
Carotenoids are plant pigments that can alleviate symptoms caused be allergies. The most common carotenoid in your diet is probably beta-carotene. A lack of it is known to aid the inflammation of the respiratory system.
Fortunately, most people already consume enough beta-carotene. If you eat a lot of carrots, apricots, sweet potato or pumpkin, you’re probably covered. Other foods rich in carotenoids include spinach, kale and collard greens.
9. Consume lots of omega-3 fatty acids
Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the chemicals known to cause inflammation in the human body. If you can reduce inflammation generally, you may be able to alleviate your allergy symptoms.
Rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids are oily fish such as salmon, trout and mackerel. If you’re worried that you don’t eat enough fish, you can take fish oil supplements. However, you should speak to your doctor if you’re taking other medications. Other sources include walnuts and flaxseeds.
While the results of studies are disputed by many, a lot of allergy sufferers report positive results from acupuncture. The NHS in England offers acupuncture for several conditions, so it shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.
11. Consume more quercetin
Quercetin is a flavonoid — a mostly beneficial antioxidant. While studies on the chemical are ongoing, it is believed to stop or hinder the natural release of histamine in the body. You’ll be glad to know that quercetin is found naturally in a range of everyday foods. If you want to boost your quercetin consumption, eat more apples, capers, red onions, red grapes, red berries and black tea.
12. Consume nettles
You can buy nettle teas in health food stores and some pharmacies. While it’s not to everyone’s taste, studies have shown it can alleviate many of the symptoms caused by common allergies. These symptoms include itching, nasal congestion, sneezing and a running nose. There’s also evidence that it can reduce inflammation.
When you purchase nettle tea, make sure it’s made from the stinging nettle Urtica dioica.
13. Consume more vitamin C
Vitamin C is actually an effective antihistamine. Eating more oranges, lemons and grapefruits could make you naturally more resistant to increases in histamine production. These citrus fruits also contain bioflavonoids, which possess anti-allergy properties. Eat a couple of oranges once a day, and you’re getting a dose of decongestant and antihistamine from a completely natural source.
While you can’t cure your allergy, you can make your daily life a lot more bearable. By avoiding triggers, cleaning your home effectively and making changes to your diet, you can drastically reduce the symptoms of common allergies.