With the warmth of spring comes the nagging irritation of allergies for 50 million Americans, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Unfortunately, spring allergies could stretch long into the summer depending on where you live, and factors like the priming effect, climate change and hygiene hypothesis could influence their severity. Complicating the treatment of allergies further are the unexpected side effects that arise from relying too often on antihistamines.
National Asthma and Allergy Awareness month has come around at the ideal time to remind you of the many ways you can keep these pesky allergens from harming your health without drugs. What follows are 10 completely safe and effective ways to do just that.
Keep it clean
1. To prevent allergens from following you into your home, wash your body every day and change your clothes. And, don’t forget to leave your shoes at the front door too.
2. A 2013 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found acupuncture, a natural treatment that brings pain relief to millions, may also be effective for allergy sufferers. Patients who received acupuncture showed greater improvements and didn’t use their antihistamines as often.
3. Cutting back on fast foods and eating at least three servings of fruit per day may reduce symptoms. Consuming fast food at least three times a week elevated the risks of severe asthma by up to 39 percent among young children and teens.
4. Checking local weather reports every day for pollen counts is crucial. You can also access online resources like The Weather Channel’s Allergies page or the National Allergy Bureau to get personalized forecasts for your area.
5. Closing your windows and running your air conditioner longer will add to your energy costs, but doing both will reduce pollen from swimming into your home.
Protect your bedroom from allergy invaders
6. You spend more time in your bedroom than any other place in your home, thus it’s important to wash all bed sheets, pillow cases and blankets in water heated to at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit every week, according to the Mayo Clinic.
7. Invest a little money by having professional cleaners do a deep cleaning of your entire home, including baseboards, window shades, tile floors and ceilings. And, don’t forget to change your home’s air filters promptly and wash your washing machines to remove extra surprises.
8. Although washing pets can be problematic — your cat will hate you for even considering it — create allergy-free zones in your home to restrict their access, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
9. Working to alleviate the stressors that flood your head may reduce the number of flare-ups with more intense symptoms, according to a recent Ohio State University study.
10. Because your body is under non-stop attack from allergens, taking a probiotic may help, as this recent PLOS ONE study showed in boosting the immunity of patients to hay fever.