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With summer fading away, hot humid days are changing, and with crisp and cool nights, allergies, as bad as those experienced in the spring, are testing your immune system once again, as every year.
Certainly, the spring isn’t the only allergy-prone season, but seems like the fall is somewhat worse, due to climate changes (which can be very sudden), but also because of the recent reports. The first symptoms of fall allergies, such as nasal cognition, sinus pain, sniffing, itchy red eyes and sneezing, are very often the signals to the millions of people who are going to suffer from it to be prepared.
Allergens, such as ragweed pollen, can provoke numbers of allergic reactions, and while you might be running to the drug store for some allergy medications (that can have frustrating side effects), the good thing is that many natural remedies can work effectively and combat allergies. Specific food and vitamins can help prevent these irritating allergies.
The first step in treating and preventing allergies is recognizing the difference between cold and allergies.
A virus is generally the cause of a cold, (a virus affecting the upper respiratory tract), whereas allergies are the reactions of the body’s immune system. Allergies might be the cause for the colds and prolonged colds may indicate that allergies are the reason for body’s weakness.
What is happening during allergy attacks?
A grain of pollen enters our nasal passages and latch onto mucous membranes, which line the bronchial and nasal passages. In mucous membranes, there are also immune cells (mast cells) loaded with histamines, and with receptors sitting on top of these cells. When an allergy starts (mold, pollen, and pet dander), mast cells are alerted and they start releasing histamine and other chemicals, while those, in turn (especially histamine), set a series of reactions that are to help the body get rid of the intruder, which means, we start sneezing, and have watery and itchy eyes. Those people who have asthma may suffer from swelling in the bronchial tubes, which makes it difficult to breathe.
Ragweed is the main contributor to outdoor allergies. One plant can produce one billion pollen grains per season and this plant can be found in vacant lots and in open fields along the road, which makes it even more dangerous. In some cases, and in some countries, other plants, such as curly dock, goldenrod, pigweed and sagebrush can cause allergies as well. During autumn months, mold is another contributor to allergic reactions. Outdoor molds grow on leaves and grass, and thrive in moisture.
What can you do?
If you suffer from fall allergies, you need to take measures to protect yourself, not ignore it.
- Pollen is most often released in the morning (in plant that are wind-pollinated, which is the case with ragweed), thus you need to be cautious on windy days and in the morning, and keep your window closed.
- You should also avoid using window fans, because though them the pollen can be pulled indoors.
- Do not hang your clothes outside; instead dry it in the dryer.
- Do not drive with your window open, and use the air condition if necessary.
- Shower frequently to remove pollen from your skin and hair.
- Limit your time outdoors when pollen counts are highest and use a face mask if you need to, especially on windy days.
What about other natural remedies?
Broccoli and kale serve very well in annihilating allergy reactions. Vitamin A and C in broccoli and kale together with a rich amount of carotenoid are good to ease the symptoms of allergic reactions. Other vitamin C boosters are cabbage, cauliflower and collard greens (especially for hay fever).
Onions and garlic are packed with quertecin, a good weapon that fights allergies and acts as an antihistamine. Quertecin acts like vitamin C, helping with side effects of the allergy by stabilizing the mast cells preventing them from realizing histamine. This compound is also a natural antioxidant.
Pumpkins are packed with vitamin A and carotenoids (that contain a lot of healthy beta-carotene), as well as carrots.
Other food can help clear away airways, such as hot peppers, horseradish and hot mustards; they all act and work as natural decongestants. Stinging nettle is another great option because it works as many other anti-allergy medications, and it is an antihistamine.
Neti pots can help flush the sinuses keeping them clear (they have been used in India for thousands of years). All you need to do is mix a quarter or a half-teaspoon of noniodized table salt and lukewarm water, then pour it into the pot. Lean over a sink, turn your head slightly to one side, and put the spout of neti into one nostril allowing the water to drain out the other one. Use it twice a day during allergy season.
Some food can help, yet some can cause contraindication and help the allergy develop, in fact, the food you are allergic to. Avoid these foods because the body’s immune system is already weak, until the air clears.
Eucalyptus oil can be very helpful for mucus membrane; Take a cotton ball, apply a drop of oil on it, and sniff several times a day (add few drops of water). You can also us the oil in your bath.
Allergy shots (known as immunotherapy) have been used as a treatment for quite some time. Diluted doses of certain allergens are inject to patients to help the immune system to be stronger. On the other hand, these allergy shots can take three to five years to start being effective, and they can also cause additional problems.
Medications can help, but you should read labels and makes sure there are no side effects. Antihistamines can make people drowsy; the dosage might not be the same for every medication as well.
Today, due to modern technology, one can also use other tools to prevent allergies. A phone application, LeafSnap, can identify potential triggers by using a database that can determine the type of tree just by taking a photograph of a leaf. It can help you recognize which trees you are allergic to.
The most important thing is to recognize the symptoms and to know how to fight them, as well as to learn what you can do to prevent it.