It’s that time of year again to experience the familiar sniffles and itchy, watery eyes from changing seasons and environmental allergies. But this allergy season, similar to the last, has an unfortunate complication. We have become extra aware and anxious about our coughs and sneezes which, unremarkable in the past, may now send us in a panic to the hospital for a nasal swab.
To help with managing your anxiety, here is a reminder of the key symptoms that occur with seasonal allergies and a few helpful ways you can help support your immune system this season. An individual suffering from seasonal allergies typically experiences the following symptoms:
- Runny or stuffy nose, with frequent sneezing.
- Watery, itchy, and irritated eyes.
- Itchy throat or nasal passages, with postnasal drainage and feeling of mucus in throat.
- Itchy ear canals and/or ear congestion (muffled sounds).
- Headaches, coughing, and difficulty breathing can also be experienced, although less common.
You don’t typically experience body aches and fever in cases of seasonal allergies. However, it is important to check with your qualified healthcare practitioner if you suspect that you may have an illness related to infection or if you show symptoms after recent contact with someone who is ill.
Now that we are equipped with the essential information, here are a few helpful tips to prepare for allergy season:
Keep the Mask On: Everyone is waiting for that liberating moment when the health experts advise masks are no longer necessary to be worn in public. But don’t be too hasty in removing your mask, especially if you suffer from seasonal allergies. This essential face covering can help protect against dust, pollens, and other environmental allergens, thus reducing your exposure and mitigating symptoms of allergy.
Download an air quality tracking app: It used to be that we would judge air quality by looking at the windows and surface of your car, coated in pollen. Nowadays, it’s easy to track air quality for pollutants and allergens through various smartphone apps. Download and use these apps to guide your outdoor activities and be prepared with masks, antihistamines, and other tools necessary to combat the onslaught of environmental allergens.
Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Inflammation is the body’s way of responding to injury or an outside invader, such as infection or allergen. But the body can become inflamed from an unhealthy diet, nutrient deficiencies, and general poor health as well. Unfortunately, when the body is inflamed, the exposure to environmental allergens can be like adding fuel to a raging fire, leading to worse symptoms. Eating a diet that consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, essential fats found in fish, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and supportive herbs such as turmeric, while avoiding refined sugars and over-processed foods, will go a long way in reducing inflammation in the body and the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
Written by: Jason Culp, ND at Chiva-Som