From Dr. Jen Wurst: Managing Seasonal Allergies Posted on June 3, 2017
Happy spring everybody! The trees are green, lawnmowers are running, flowers are blooming. People are sneezing. Yep, allergy season is here!
Now there are plenty of medications available for seasonal allergies over-the-counter that used to require a prescription. Antihistamines like Allegra, Zyrtec and Claritin, and nasal sprays like Flonase and Nasonex can be purchased at the pharmacy. Fewer people need to come see me to handle mild symptoms.
I’m still seeing people who are really suffering though. Either the over-the-counter medications aren’t helping or they’re not reducing the symptoms enough to keep people comfortable. I’ve got big-gun treatments like cortisone shots and higher-priced prescriptions, but is there anything else you can do to get your symptoms under control before seeing the doctor? Of course there is! (I probably wouldn’t be writing this if there weren’t, LOL!) There are 3 more measures you can take to reduce your symptoms on your own.
1. Ditch the fumes Spring means spring cleaning, so many people are moving furniture, vacuuming carpet that hasn’t seen daylight in months, washing baseboards and the insides of cabinets. What chemicals are you releasing in your house when you clean? Pull out your cleaning supplies and read the labels. If it says “use in a well-ventilated area” or contains bleach or ammonia, please don’t use it in your house! Indoor air pollution from fume-forming cleaning products is a BIG problem. Houses nowadays are much more airtight to stop energy leaks around windows and doors. Chronic exposure to chemical fumes and scents can lead to chronic nasal and sinus congestion from the irritation.
I know this works from personal experience. In medical training I developed what I was told was indoor allergies. All winter I suffered with sinus congestion and occasional sinus infections. It was worse when I spent nights in the hospital on call, and I figured that call rooms were just dusty places. It got better in the warmer weather and I thought since the windows were open I was just not being exposed to as many indoor allergens.
When I joined Shaklee and switched my cleaning products, my indoor allergies went away! Turns out I wasn’t allergic to dust and mold (I’m not any better at housekeeping now than I was as a medical student, LOL!) but I was reacting to the cleaning products I used.
If you’re suffering with allergy symptoms, I strongly suggest you change to nontoxic cleaning supplies. Get rid of everything that has a scent or makes fumes. Those of you who love scented candles and perfume and lotions, I recommend you pack them ALL up for 2 weeks and switch to unscented personal products to see if it makes a difference to your symptoms.
2. Alfalfa If switching cleaners doesn’t work, one supplement that really helps allergy symptoms is alfalfa. Before you get really confused (thinking alfalfa is for horses and rabbits), yes, alfalfa is a very nutritious and perfectly edible salad green. It also seems to tell the immune system that grasses and plants are safe for you! Taking alfalfa by mouth seems to down-regulate the immune reaction to grasses and pollens (this is called oral immunotherapy). Since 2/3 of the immune system lives in your intestines, and in THAT location it seems to be primed to ignore allergens, this response makes sense. If you don’t want to eat a big alfalfa salad every day, Shaklee has alfalfa tablets which are produced organically. I have customers with allergies who have been happily taking alfalfa tablets for years to control their symptoms.
3. Food allergies Yes, I see food allergies EVERYWHERE! However, that’s because the symptoms that food allergies cause are everywhere too. One of the many symptoms related to food allergies is chronic sinus congestion. If you have switched your cleaning products and ditched scented, fume-forming products and added alfalfa and STILL have allergy congestion, you should consider a 3-week food allergen elimination diet. The one I give my patients is found here. Got allergies? You’re not alone. If nonprescription meds are not working or you’d prefer a non-pharmaceutical approach, there’s a lot you can do to reduce your symptoms before calling in the professionals QUESTION: Are you suffering with allergy symptoms this spring? What are you doing about it?
Jennifer Wurst, MD. is board certified in Integrative Holistic Medicine, I have an even wider and deeper toolbox to help my patients get and stay healthy. Nutrition, stressmanagement, weight control, smart supplementation, exercise, and complimentary therapies like acupuncture, manual manipulation (like massage and chiropractic care), biofeedback, hypnotherapy and Ayurvedic and botanical medicine all have their place in modern medicine. I will use any tool that works to get the results you need. If you’re looking for a doctor to care for your whole family, why not try me? I can’t wait to meet you! Contact me (see the tab above) and we’ll get started!
As the author of this blog, I have based my writings upon my own experiences, beliefs and extensive research regarding the topics covered in my blog. However, I am not a medical doctor, nurse or professional nutritionist or otherwise formally qualified in this subject matter. The information contained in this blog is not intended to be construed in any manner as medical advice. Quotes are based upon the opinions of this author and others who contributed to this blog. All diet decisions should be made with approval of your health care provider. This blog is intended to motivate and encourage readers to make healthy decisions after consulting with a qualified health care professional. Therefore, please read my blog and use the information that you derive from it appropriately and at your own risk.