Seasonal Allergies: 4 Ways to Beat the Spring Sneeze
Ah, the first signs of spring. Sunshine. Flowers. Birds. Grass. Sneezing. Coughing. Watery eyes. Itchy throat. Runny nose.
Sound familiar? If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms without any muscle aches and fever, chances are you’re among the one in six Canadians who suffer from environmental allergies.
If the outdoors are getting the best of you, here is what you need to know about seasonal allergies, what causes them and how you can get some relief.
Environmental allergies occur when your body overreacts to an invasion of allergens, the most common of which are grass, tree and weed pollens, ragweed, dust mite, cats, dogs and mold. When an allergen enters the body, it triggers an immune reaction, symptoms of which include watery eyes, sneezing, coughing and an itchy throat.
If you are suffering from the classic symptoms of an allergic reaction, but are not quite sure what the triggers are, you may want to consider being tested.
Diagnostic scratch testing is a simple 15-minute test that can accurately pinpoint the type and severity of different kinds of environmental allergies in just one visit.
During this test, patients are exposed to each of the allergens via drops of fluid on the skin. With a needle, the physician lightly scratches the patient’s skin under each drop so that the skin absorbs the fluid. While the test is relatively painless, be prepared for any tickling and itching caused by the reaction. At the end of the test, each scratch will be checked for any redness or swelling. A positive test will usually look like a mosquito bite.
Treatment & Prevention
Sublingual immunotherapy Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a safe and effective allergy treatment during which the patient receives low doses of the allergen under the tongue. The idea is that repeated exposure will increase tolerance and reduce allergy symptoms by re-training your body so that it doesn’t become allergic to begin with. Unlike allergy shots, SLIT can be self-administered at home.
SLIT is Health Canada and FDA approved, and is recognized by the World Health Organization as an effective treatment for allergies.
Studies have shown that a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins C and E as well as antioxidants can help ease allergy symptoms.
Stock up on these immune boosting foods:
- Nuts: Nuts are rich in Vitamin E which helps boost immunity and relieve symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis (or hay fever).
- Fish: Cold water fish, such as salmon, anchovies, mackerel and sardines, are full of healthy unsaturated fats and high in the Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA which help reduce inflammation.
- Fruit: Strawberries, papayas, citrus fruits, pineapple and kiwi are all excellent sources of Vitamin C which acts as a natural antihistamine to help relieve allergy symptoms.
- Flaxseed oil: Flaxseed oil is packed with vitamins B1, B2, C, E and A, along with Omega-3,6,9 fatty acids, iron, zinc and trace minerals such as calcium and magnesium. One to two spoonfuls a day of flaxseed oil will help reduce inflammation and alleviate allergy symptoms.
- Nettle Tea: Nettle tea, which has been known to treat eczema and arthritis among other ailments, can help reduce inflammation as well as relieve some of the symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis such as nasal congestion and sneezing.
Vitamins and Supplements
Many allergy sufferers find relief in IV Vitamin Therapy, a combination of vitamins and trace minerals that is infused directly into your bloodstream. The cocktail contains higher doses of Vitamin C to help fight inflammation. Quercetin, a natural anti-histamine, is also recommended as an oral supplement.
You can also reduce your exposure to allergens by keeping your windows closed at home and in the car, as well as washing your hands and clothing after being outside. If you have pets who go outside, try to minimize your exposure to the allergens by keeping them out of your bedroom until after their coats have been wiped down.
Keep in mind that preventative treatment should begin 30-60 days prior to the start of allergy season.Check with your health care provider to determine which type of treatment and testing is right for you. Here’s to enjoying the great outdoors!
Yours in Health,
Dr. Ashely Gordon, BSc., ND
Dr. Ashely Gordon is a Naturopathic Physician and owner of Garibaldi Health Clinic, an integrative health care facility offering Naturopathic Medicine, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Massage, Midwifery and Physical Therapy. For more information visit www.garibaldihealthclinic.com or call 604 898 1999.