Spring is here, and allergies are rearing their ugly head. Did you know 10-30% of the world population suffers from allergies, and they can make you feel miserable? The sneezing, the watery eyes, and the tickly throat makes life challenging. An allergy occurs when your body’s immune system reacts to a substance you’re sensitive to, such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help keep them under control, so you can reduce your dependence on allergy medications. Let’s look at some of those.
Reduce mold in your home
Molds are a common allergen that can cause allergies, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses. These annoying fungi grow on damp surfaces, such as in bathrooms, kitchens, and basements and can cause symptoms year-round. Outdoor mold can also be a problem and they cause symptoms mainly in the summer and fall.
Many people have mold-infested homes and don’t know it. Household mold can cause chronic sinus issues and other unexplained symptoms. The mold spores can also spread into the air when you try to clean an area that contains mold.
How can you keep mold from growing and reduce mold allergy symptoms? Make sure the humidity in your home isn’t too high. A relative humidity level below 50% will help prevent mold growth. You may need to use a dehumidifier during humid months or seasons to keep your home dry. If you live in an older home without central air conditioning, this may mean running portable dehumidifiers throughout the year.
If you already have mold, you can use a diluted bleach solution to clean it up. Access instructions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website that show you how to use bleach safely indoors to remove mold.
Track the pollen count in your area.
When it comes to allergies, several factors can worsen your symptoms. One of the most common is a high pollen count. This means there is more pollen in the air than usual and you’re more likely to breathe it in and experience sneezing, watery eyes, a runny nose, and other hay fever type symptoms.
Keep an eye on the pollen count in your area, so you know if it’s affecting you and your family members. The National Allergy Bureau tracks pollen counts nationally and regionally throughout the United States. The site lists pollen counts by city or state, so you can see what’s happening in your area. This site is an affiliate of the AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, so it offers reliable information.
The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology also has a map showing the levels of tree pollens across the country. It’s updated daily based on the data collected by its members, who take samples and send them to their headquarters in Chicago each day.
When the pollen count is high, minimize the time you spend outdoors. Save yard work for days when the pollen count is low and wear a mask while you work to reduce your exposure.
Consume more probiotics
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help maintain health and prevent disease. Along with their other health benefits, probiotics reduce inflammation and modify your body’s immune response. Some research suggests that probiotics improve respiratory health and reduce allergy symptoms.
One study by researchers at the University of Florida found that a probiotic combination of lactobacilli and bidifobacteria, called Kyo-dophilus, reduced allergy symptoms in adults suffering from seasonal allergies. However, not every combination of probiotic they tested worked.
Some research shows that probiotics may reduce allergy symptoms, possibly because of their anti-inflammatory effects. It’s an area that needs more research but adding more probiotic-rich foods to your diet has other benefits. Reliable sources of probiotics include fermented vegetables, kefir, and yogurt with active cultures.
Rinse your nasal passages with a dilute saline solution
A quick way to remove pollen and other allergens from your nasal passages is to flush them with a saline solution. You can buy saline solutions at most drugstores. Saline washes out allergens that have made their way into your nose and sinuses, reducing congestion, so you can breathe easier. You can do this several times per day, and after you come in from outside, to allow you to breathe easier.
Make home cleanliness a top priority
- Keeping your home clean is one of the most effective ways to prevent allergies, since many allergens lurk inside the home — from dust mites to pet dander to mold. There are many ways to do this, but here are some tips that may help:
- Make sure your house has good ventilation and circulation by opening windows and using fans while you’re cleaning.
- Don’t use carpeting in your home, as carpets tend to trap dust mites and other allergens on them (and they’re hard to clean).
- Use green cleaning products instead of regular ones whenever possible (they are less likely to cause reactions).
- Invest in an air cleaner that will help remove dust particles from the air before they reach your nose or throat. If possible, get one with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) rating — this means it will trap smaller particles more effectively than other filters. Use higher-efficiency air filters in HVAC equipment, too, though be careful they aren’t too high efficiency since that could impede system airflow.
- Wash bedding every week. Dust mites love warm, dark places like beds and couches — so wash all bedding weekly in hot water (130 degrees Fahrenheit or above) to kill dust mites and other allergens.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. This will help trap more airborne particles in your home, so they don’t get sucked back into the air when you turn on the fan again (or worse: into the lungs).
The Bottom Line
Some medications, including antihistamines, will help alleviate allergy symptoms but there are natural approaches to reign in your allergy symptoms and breathe a little easier this summer and fall. Take advantage of these natural approaches to keeping allergies from ruining your summer or fall.
- Pollen Allergies | AAFA.org. Aafa.org. Published 2020. Accessed May 21, 2022. .aafa.org/pollen-allergy/
- Lopez-Santamarina A, Gonzalez EG, Lamas A, Mondragon ADC, Regal P, Miranda JM. Probiotics as a Possible Strategy for the Prevention and Treatment of Allergies. A Narrative Review. Foods. 2021 Mar 25;10(4):701. doi: 10.3390/foods10040701. PMID: 33806092; PMCID: PMC8064452.
- “Mold Allergy – Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment | AAFA.org.” .aafa.org/mold-allergy/.
- “Allergies? Probiotic combination may curb your symptoms, new study ….” 01 Mar. 2017, https://news.ufl.edu/articles/2017/03/allergies-probiotic-combination-may-curb-your-symptoms-new-study-finds.html.
- “You Can Control Mold – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” https://www.cdc.gov/mold/pdfs/you_can_control_mold.pdf.
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