Well it had to start sooner or later, but it doesn’t make it any easier to accept — I started to notice pollen on my car windshield in the morning.
What makes it even more difficult to handle is knowing that this is just the start. The worst part is that the experts say that because of our relatively tough and extended winter, this year’s allergy season will be a rough one. But like anything, if you can’t change the facts, change the way you deal with it instead of suffering through it.
The first step is to accept the fact that the pollen will fall, and you will have days where you are not at your best. So what can we do about it? Here are a few lifestyle changes and natural remedies that you may want to try:
— Rest. Identify those times when you are feeling run down because of your symptoms and give yourself a break. Like for most health conditions and maintaining a proper healthy lifestyle, rest and sleep are important. Whenever possible find some time for yourself.
— Don’t bring the outside indoors. Now this one may be hard, but very beneficial. Obviously the second you set foot outside, you are getting covered by pollen. You may not see it, but it’s all over you. So do whatever you can to keep your clothes, shoes and other items from tracking pollen through your house.
— Watch the weather. Try to stay inside when it’s a windy day and understand that pollen is often worse in the morning, so try to adjust your schedule if at all possible.
— Shower before bed. Just like your clothes, your hair has pollen on it. So before you lay your head on your pillow make sure you take a shower or bath.
— Do laundry more often. Make sure you are cleaning your clothes and bed sheets more often than usual.
— Keep your windows closed and make sure the filters on your heating and cooling units are clean.
— Have some red wine. Do I have your attention now? Two supplements found naturally in red wine — grape seed extract and quercetin — have been shown to help with allergy symptoms. If you don’t drink, just buy the supplements. If you are taking prescribed allergy medication, you should not drink alcohol. You may also want to try the herb Butterbur.
— Spices like ginger, basil, oregano, cayenne pepper and horseradish can have your sinus passages unblocked in no time.
— Rinse and repeat — your nose that is. It’s a good idea to use a simple saline solution and rinse out your nasal passages at least once a day. You can either make your own at home — 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 12 ounces of water — or buy a pre-made solution. The important thing to remember is to get the saline solution and not something like Afrin, which will give you temporary relief and may be habit forming.
— Do I have to say it? Don’t smoke.
It’s important to remember that if you do suffer from allergies, you can’t let them control your life. Yes, you may have symptoms like a running nose, watery eyes, sneezing and coughing but you are not sick. You should still go to work — save those sick days for when you’re really sick — and you should still continue your daily workouts, or at least exercise as much as you feel capable of handling.
And as always, if you have questions about allergies, please consult your primary health care provider or your pharmacist.