Freedom from Allergies
Don't stay locked-up inside this spring
Got the sniffles? Join the club. It may be little consolation to know that you're one of 60 million Americans who suffer allergies, but here you'll find what will help: solutions that get you relief, from DIY quick fixes to doctor-administered therapy.
Allergy-Proof Your Environment
- Wash that pollen out of your hair. Studies show that hair can be a magnet for pollen, which can rub off onto sheets and pillows at bedtime.
- To outsmart the cling, wash your hair before bed.
- Keep windows closed. And don't forget to keep car windows rolled up too. Filter out the allergens. Using an air purifier and filter on your vacuum can help rid your home of allergens. And for the best protection, opt for a true HEPA model. Unlike "HEPA-type" filters, they are proven to remove up to 99 percent of airborne mold.
Eat Right To Ease Symptoms
- Nosh on nuts. Almonds, peanuts and cashews are high in magnesium, a mineral found to boost lung function and ease allergy symptoms.
- Studies show that low levels of magnesium raise the level of histamine, a chemical in the body that triggers allergic reactions.
- Savor something spicy. Spicy foods help thin mucous secretions, easing a stuffy nose. Try cayenne pepper, ginger or garlic. Or opt for onions, which contain quercetinan antioxidant that's a natural antihistamine.
- Sip green tea. An antioxidant in the tea known as EGCG blocks compounds in the body that produce an allergic response. Drink two or three cups a day.
- Sweeten with local honey. Because the bees feed on pollen from local flowers, trace amounts of the allergen end up in the honey, and eating just a little bit can slowly build your body's tolerance. In fact, an informal study at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans found that just 2 teaspoons daily for six weeks eased symptoms.
Find Relief With Natural Remedies
- Try butterbur. A report in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy suggests that the herb can be just as effective as prescription drugs in easing allergy symptoms, thanks to chemicals that short-circuit the body's production of histamine.
- Get "acupunctured." Treatment with needles at specific points in the body has been shown to reduce the production of cytokines, proteins that can trigger symptoms.
- Invest in a neti pot. Researchers at the Lahey Clinic in Massachusetts found that a sinus rinse dramatically eased symptoms in 84 percent of patients.
Head To The Drugstore
- Try over-the-counter remedies. Look for an anti-histamine, which is the active ingredient in brands like Zyrtec and Claritin.
- Go prescription-strength. If you feel like you need more aggressive therapy, consult with your doctor, who may prescribe a stronger anti-histamine like Allegra or Xyzal.
Get Professional Help
- Start allergy shots. The shots desensitize your body to allergens, eliminating reactions and symptoms. The regular injections can take four years to complete, but some relief is found within a few months.
- Try the latest immunotherapy. Popular in Europe, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) involves placing drops of the allergen under the tongue to build up tolerance. And it works in 85 percent of patients. "The main advantage is convenience, since the oral drops or tablets can be administered at home," says Ira Finegold, M.D., clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University. "And it appears to be safer than conventional immunotherapy."
Get Your Allergy Forecast
- Want to know when your seasonal-allergy symptoms could flare up so you can prevent them before they start? Check out www.pollen.com: Enter your zip code and you'll get the latest info on pollen levels in your area.
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