Many people deal with yearly or seasonal allergies due to dust or pollen. Over the last few decades, allergies have only gotten more severe thanks to increasing pollen levels. By learning the common symptoms and triggers of your seasonal allergies, you can be better equipped to treat the underlying causes and find a solution.
Common Allergy Causes and Symptoms
An allergy, seasonal or not, results from your immune system responding to something harmless. Your immune system is designed to attack harmful pathogens and germs in your body to prevent or stop an illness.1 However, with allergies, it’s missing the mark and fighting off something, whether it’s food or airborne pollen, that doesn’t need to be fought. As a result, your body releases antibodies which generally go to your nose and sinuses, throat, lungs, eyes, ears, and skin.
Allergic reactions, seasonal and beyond, generally result from sources such as:
Tree pollen and other pollens like ragweed
Dust and dust mites
Mold and mold spores
Pet fur and dander
Foods or ingredients
Medications or chemicals
Seasonal allergies occur because spring, summer, and fall have a significantly higher count of pollen in the air, and mold grows more often in these months. So, your allergic reaction becomes significantly heightened during these seasons compared to the winter months.
As a result of the antibodies releasing chemicals in response to one of these allergens, your body can react in many ways, creating allergy symptoms such as:
Runny or stuffy nose
Itching in eyes, ears, nose, and throat
Swelling in the eyes and eyelids
Rashes and skin irritation
By learning what triggers your allergies, you can treat the root cause and find a solution more easily. Skin testing is the best way to determine if an allergy exists. It is also a better way to identify the specific cause of the allergy. Once you know the cause, you’ll be better able to avoid the allergen or find a solution to deal with it.
Your first exposure to an allergen may not cause a severe reaction or any reaction at all. However, once exposed to the allergen, further exposures could cause more issues. Allergies are often treated with shots and medications, but it’s important to know that natural remedies can also be effective in treating your allergy symptoms.
What Naturally Treats Seasonal Allergies?
Finding a solution for your seasonal allergies outside of oral antihistamines is possible. It’s important to know what causes your allergies so you can avoid them. If you have seasonal allergies, it may seem like allergens are everywhere and unavoidable. However, there are many ways to lower the amount of pollen, dust, dander, and mold that you come in contact with on a daily basis. For gradual lifestyle changes to prevent allergies from cropping up, it’s important to know the ways to avoid or minimize your allergens.
Seasonal Allergy Avoidance and Prevention
The most important way to naturally treat your allergies is to remove or greatly reduce your exposure to them. While this may seem like a simple solution, it is crucial. In order to minimize your symptoms, you have to know which allergens trigger a response. Generally, seasonal allergies come from pollen or dust. There are several methods to help avoid the sneezing that results from inhaling invisible allergens during the height of allergy season.
To keep your immune system healthy, you need to keep your gut healthy. When the microbiome in your stomach is kept clean and healthy, your immune system is better equipped to deal with allergies. If you have a sensitivity to common foods like dairy or gluten and come in contact with those foods often, your stomach, and therefore your immune system, will be less functional.
There are also foods you can add to your diet to improve your immune system.2 Probiotics, found in yogurts and fermented foods, can help with symptoms of allergies. Eating foods with bromelain enzymes, like pineapple, can also improve your health by lowering swelling in your body. You can also use the dietary supplement spirulina algae, which can give a protective effect from seasonal allergic reactions.
If the air in your house is filled with allergens, your symptoms will likely only worsen. In order to reduce allergy symptoms from pollen and dust, it’s important to have clean air. You can do this by keeping windows closed to avoid an influx of outside pollen blowing in. If warm temperatures make closing windows a hard thing to do, consider using air filters to trap dander, dust, and pollen from the air in your home. If you have a forced air heating or cooling system, changing the filter often can also help reduce the number of allergens in your home.
Dehumidifiers or air conditioning can help limit mold or mildew growth that could be causing your allergic reactions. An indoor plant, particularly one that flowers and produces pollen, could also be causing your reaction and may need to be removed.
Cleaning and Removing Outdoor Clothes
After being outdoors, your clothes could be covered in invisible allergens, making your symptoms worse. Once inside, change into clean clothes and wash your outdoor clothes as soon as possible. Doing laundry more often can also help alleviate allergies by keeping your clothes, bedsheets, and blankets clean of dust and hair, too.
You can also keep outside allergens from entering your home by shifting your day-to-day schedule. Pollen counts are typically highest around midday. If you like to be outdoors, going outside earlier in the morning or in the evening could help lessen your allergy symptoms. However, pollen easily moves through the air on dry, windy days, and you may want to avoid being outside altogether. This may not be possible for everyone, but it can be helpful to know how the time of day and weather conditions impact your exposure to allergens.
By keeping yourself clean, especially after a long day of being around allergens, you can lessen the impacts of irritants. Taking a shower before bed can help clean your body and hair of allergens that could trigger your symptoms as you try to sleep.
Vitamins and Supplements
Just like changing your diet can improve your immune system, so can taking supplemental vitamins. Vitamins can also reduce inflammation which could be a symptom of your seasonal allergies. Supplements with vitamin C, A, D, stinging nettle, and Omega-3 fatty acids can be helpful for seasonal allergies. Vitamin C can help reduce your histamine levels, while stinging nettle is also a natural antihistamine. Supplements with quercetin are also said to help control allergy symptoms, and quercetin occurs naturally in citrus and some vegetables.
Destress and Relax
While easier said than done, relaxing your mind or removing stressors from your life can improve your symptoms of seasonal allergies. If your body is in a state of panic, your immune system isn’t working as effectively. By finding ways to calm your mind and body, you can allow your immune system to function the way it’s meant to.
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A downside to long-term lifestyle changes is that they’re often not immediate or quick fixes. Cleaning your air and taking daily supplements may result in an unexpected expense. Consider that it may take a few weeks or a few months before you notice an improvement. However, there are some solutions to treat your milder but irritating allergic reactions more quickly.
Saline Nasal Irrigation
A neti pot or other saline nasal irrigation system can be used to clear out sinuses and limit symptoms of seasonal allergies. They work by washing out allergens from deep in your nose. Be sure to use cool water that has been boiled so that the water is free of parasites or bacteria.
Acupuncture is helpful for many physical ailments, and studies show that acupuncture can be a useful and successful treatment for seasonal allergies.3 It can give your immune system a healthy boost and is helpful in managing the symptoms of allergens.
Honey is often recommended as a way to manage seasonal allergy symptoms. It not only soothes an itchy and irritated throat, but it has been suggested that eating local raw honey introduces small amounts of local pollen into your system. This then lessens the impact of the pollen in the air on your body, similar to how a vaccine limits the impact of a disease. However, there are not enough concrete studies to show that local honey works this way.
Some essential oils can be helpful in lowering mild allergy symptoms. Both frankincense and peppermint essential oils could help with symptoms if diffused in the air or diluted into another oil on your skin. Peppermint oil has been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits. Another helpful oil is eucalyptus essential oil. It can be added with your laundry detergent in the washing machine as an antimicrobial oil.
Are Natural Remedies Effective?
While prescription antihistamines are the most common response to treating allergies, therapeutic options and, in some cases, allergen immunotherapy, are effective in dealing with symptoms. Studies are being conducted to review many treatments for seasonal allergies and determine the effectiveness of those treatments. Not all of them are conclusive, but many studies show clear improvements in symptoms.
1. Kolodny, O., Berger, M., Feldman, M. W., & Ram, Y. (2020). A new perspective for mitigation of SARS-CoV-2 infection: priming the innate immune system for viral attack. Open Biology, 10(7), 200138. Published:29 July 2020 https://doi.org/10.1098/rsob.200138
2. Zajac AE, Adams AS, Turner JH. A systematic review and meta-analysis of probiotics for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2015 Jun;5(6):524-32. doi: 10.1002/alr.21492. Epub 2015 Apr 20. PMID: 25899251; PMCID: PMC4725706. 10.1002/alr.21492
3. Feng S, Han M, Fan Y, Yang G, Liao Z, Liao W, Li H. Acupuncture for the treatment of allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2015 Jan-Feb;29(1):57-62. doi: 10.2500/ajra.2015.29.4116. PMID: 25590322. DOI: 10.2500/ajra.2015.29.4116
Lyle Murphy is the founder of the Alternative to Meds Center, a licensed residential program that helps people overcome dependence on psychiatric medication and addiction issues using holistic and psychotherapeutic methods.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.