Yes indeed. As my tranquil cup of morning coffee on the balcony was suddenly supplemented by a soundtrack-chorus of sneezing from neighbors above and below, I realized it: allergy season’s upon us. No big deal, though, right? Just Google the bottled solution and grab it from CVS before work (or later at lunch, if you’re late for everything like I am).
The problem is, a Google search yields a few temporary solutions (like four-way spray or allergy shots), but the side effects are so bad, they don’t solve the cause of the problem. Before you know it you’re recovering from new issues the “remedy” has caused, which has stopped working anyway by mid spring. Why?
“Frequently, the side effects of allergy medications can be equally debilitating, and can cause drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, tinnitus, and other unpleasant side effects,” says Dr. Hyun K. Lee of California. He adds, “When taken over time, these medications lose their effectiveness, and will need to be replaced with stronger dosages, or alternative drugs. But, all allergy medications will only treat allergy symptoms, not their underlying cause.”
Ah, that explains it! So, then what can I do?
Diet vs. dust?
Toronto based naturopathic doctor Jennifer Baer offers some dietary suggestions like: cutting down on mucous forming foods like dairy, animal fat, sugar and bananas.
Really? I mean, I can cut some of that stuff, but… bananas? How about that suggestion is what’s bananas. Also, if there’s no creamer in my coffee, we’re going to have a problem, Houston. Can I get a witness?
Alright, alright. I’m sure Dr. Baer is lovely and great at her job, but – until I’m willing to eliminate my dietary addictions – is there anything better I can add in that's healthy? Apparently, yes! Vitamin C-rich foods are helpful. Among recommended noms you might want to toss into your shopping cart are: Broccoli, kale, citrus fruits, collard greens, onions and garlic, and parsley - as some symptom sufferers have realized relief from consuming them.
— Darian L Hampton DDS (@DrHamptonDDS) March 26, 2013
David Rosenstreich, M.D., director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Montefiore Medical Center, tells Newswise that allergy medications can be helpful if taken early enough, but that “if you start after the symptoms are in full swing, it’s much harder to stop the allergic reaction than to prevent it from the beginning,” adding that, “As long as you take the proper precautions, you should be able to enjoy the outdoors and make the most of the warm weather.”
Okay. Let’s say things get really bad and I have to hit the allergy aisle. What can I take without falling asleep at the wheel? The ‘second generation’ antihistamines, are said to provide non-drowsy, 24-hour allergy relief and are available over the counter - like Alavert and Claritin. Wait - what do they mean “second generation”? What's "first generation"? First gen is that sedating stuff that'll make you sleep through the alarm clock tomorrow. Thus, if you feel the need to reach for Actified or Benadryl, they may be better taken at an early bedtime.
And for that stuffy nose that makes you talk like Fran Drescher (no offense, Fran)? Some decongestants will aid in immediate relief (for three days or less). If used for longer, the nose starts to swell up.
If all that over-the-counter stuff makes you feel anxious, though, some other suggested remedies to assuage symptoms include: neti pots (to clear nasal passage), hot shower (open the nasal passages and clean the skin), washing your pet (because he may have dander on him), dehumidifiers (to rid mold), spicy foods (also help clear nasal passages), and probiotics (prevent allergies by boosting immune system).
Also, you can try cutting down on allergies from the inside out via prevention: dusting, vacuuming, closing the window when pollen is abundant, and reducing mold via leak-checks (the dehumidifier should help with that too). Okay, now that I can do. I’m bad about cleaning, but I totally can if it means I can keep consuming hazelnut creamer in the morning.
As with all things you read, take this advice with a grain of salt, keep researching, and get the guidance of a doctor - especially if symptoms persist. See what works best for you so that when you breathe in the warm air this spring, you’ll feel dandy instead of dander.
Image via Wikimedia Commons