Springtime Allergies – Ten Tips to Lessen Their Impact
By Marcel J. Hernandez, N.D.
Sitting quietly, doing nothing,
Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.
-- Lao Tzu
Ah yes, in springtime the grass grows, the flowers and trees bloom, the moist weather gives new life to tree and house mold and humans cough, snorfle, sneeze, dab tissues at their watery, itchy eyes and have to deal with inconvenient PND (post-nasal drip). So although Lao Tsu could sit quietly and do nothing, many of us spend our time reaching for tissues and trying to find the drug that best addresses our condition.
For most of us, an allergic response like those mentioned above occurs when our immune system reaches a point where it can no longer take the insults it is being subjected to and goes into overdrive, becoming inflamed, producing an over supply of mucus, and trying to expel the environmental insults through sneezing and coughing
Yes, there are drugs that temper the immune response, but is this what we really want? We want to normalize immune system function, not suppress it so that we are left vulnerable to opportunistic infections. Here are a few tips to help lessen allergic exposures and reduce symptoms:
1. Stay indoors during heavy pollen periods (peak pollen times are usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.) and get a HEPA filtration system to filter particulate matter out of the air. HEPA air purifiers are available at large stores like Target and at on-line vendors. We use an Austin air purifier. Google them for their web site.
2. Wear a dust mask if you have to work outdoors doing anything, especially mowing, or if you have to vacuum indoors.
3. Rid your house of rugs and carpets. Use only rugs and mats that are washable and wash them weekly.
4. Keep windows closed to reduce pollen entering the house. Change filters in air conditioning units and vents frequently during this time of year.
5. Wash bedding weekly in hot water to rid it of mites and other particulate matter.
6. Dry laundry indoors. Wet sheets hanging on an outside lines are easy repositories for blowing pollen.
7. After a sustained period of time outdoors, remove your shoes, change your clothes and take a shower as soon as you get home. Allergens like pollen stick to fabrics. So, try not to track them throughout your home. Shower nightly to wash off any remaining pollen grains on your face and body. If you can't wash your hair nightly, at least tie it up to keep it away from your face.
8. Keep pets off of furniture and out of the bedroom. Pollen can cling to a dog or cat after being outside. Animal hair also contributes to the total allergic load.
9. Keep car windows closed during peak season. Use air conditioning and point the vents away from your ace.
10. Be prepared with the right allergy treatment. Use over-the-counter meds as a last resort. Try natural antihistamines like bioflavonoids and Vitamin C first.
Finally, if symptoms persist to the point where they are interfering with the quality of your life, see your health practitioner for assistance in normalizing your immune system function and reducing your body’s total allergic load.
Dr. Hernandez is happy to address your health-related questions in his column. He may be contacted at HawaiiND@BigIsland.net.