Ahh, fall. The season of pumpkin spice, changing leaves, and cooler weather. Often a welcomed break to the hot, humid days of summer. We greet fall with cozy sweaters and houses smelling of cinnamon. At the same time, we curse the accompanying sneezes, sniffles, and itchy eyes.
For some, fall is synonymous with seasonal allergies. Instead of enjoying the beauty of fall, you end up taking antihistamines like it’s nobody’s business. Having to rely on pills, eye drops, and nasal sprays to get through the day, and being in a state of constant drowsiness, is no way to live. Let’s not even talk about sleeping (or the lack thereof) with a constant nasal drip and headache.
Don’t worry though, there are ways to fight fall allergies so you too can enjoy this season! First, let’s talk a little bit about allergies in general.
What Are Allergies?
Allergic rhinitis is the medical term for seasonal allergies due to plant pollen. It is commonly known as hay fever, and people experience symptoms that affect the nasal cavity. Allergens are things that cause an allergic reaction within your body. When you breathe in an allergen, in this case, pollen, your body releases chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.
Seasonal allergies are an allergic reaction to pollen from trees, grasses, and ragweed, that are carried through the air. Your body’s immune system recognizes a usually harmless substance, pollen, as dangerous. It then releases histamines and other allergy-mediating molecules to combat the foreign substance.
These chemicals are what cause your allergy symptoms.
What Are The Symptoms Of Allergies?
The symptoms of allergies vary for each individual. Most symptoms are similar to that of a sinus infection or the common cold, except they last much longer. The following is a list of the most common seasonal allergy symptoms:
- Excess Mucus Production
- Itchy, Watery Eyes
- Scratchy Throat
- Irritation in the Ears
One way to avoid these symptoms is to stay inside, but who wants to do that? More commonly, people take conventional allergy medicine.
Issues With Conventional Medicine Treatment
Conventional allergy medication is great for a quick fix to your symptoms. However, it often fails to address the root cause of your allergies. Conventional medicine treats the symptoms, but not the causes. Remember, seasonal allergies are simply an allergic response by your immune system to a harmless foreign substance. The key to fighting fall allergies is to strengthen your immune system. The following are four ways you can fight fall allergies naturally.
How Do I Fight Fall Allergies Naturally?
Focus on Your Diet
Diet has a direct impact on immune system function. It can affect levels of inflammation and histamine in our bodies. Reducing levels of these two components is the first step to fighting seasonal allergies. An unhealthy, inflamed gut will not be able to fight off potential allergens. With the majority of your immune system residing in your gut, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet.
One of the most important ways you can do this is by avoiding inflammatory foods such as sugar, refined foods, and food additives. Instead, eat anti-inflammatory foods. These include colorful vegetables that are high in anti-inflammatory flavonoids and antioxidants. Focus on healthy fats from foods like avocados, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil.
It’s also wise to support a healthy intestinal barrier by eating a clean, organic diet. A “leaky” gut is complicit with many immune-related diseases, especially seasonal allergies. You’ll want to strengthen the lining of your gut so that the bad stuff doesn’t travel to where it’s not supposed to be, and set off your immune system even more. Along with probiotics, prebiotics, zinc, glutamine, and fish oil, this diet will set you up for success.
Finally, stay hydrated. Proper hydration reduces histamine response. You should aim to drink half your bodyweight (lbs) in fluid ounces of water.
Another huge feature in regards to fighting allergies naturally is managing stress. You might not believe it, but perceived stress has been found to drive allergy flare-ups! Our bodies respond to stress in different ways, and one of them results in more frequent allergy flares. Individuals who are in a high state of emotional stress may suffer more during Fall allergy season.
There are several methods you can use to manage stress. Exercising, meditation, breathing techniques, and supportive relationships are just a few ways. Getting enough sleep each night will help reduce stress, and also support an overall healthy, strong immune system.
Try These Natural Remedies
Several natural remedies have been found to help fight fall allergies. In addition to avoiding some foods and including others, certain natural supplements have been discovered to combat allergy symptoms. Research has come out that quercetin, a flavonoid that gives fruit and vegetables their rich colors, stops the production and release of histamine. Just make sure you talk to your primary care doctor before starting any new supplements.
You can also eat quercetin-containing foods such as: broccoli, apples, citrus, fennel, and red onion.
Another natural remedy that may help your allergy symptoms, especially nasal congestion and excess mucus production, is a nasal flush. Nasal irrigation, with a neti pot or a saline solution, can rinse debris from your nasal cavity, allowing you to breathe without obstruction.
Reduce Your Exposure to Pollen
Other good practices to relieve your allergy symptoms include reducing your exposure to pollen.
Ways to do this involve:
- Washing clothes more often
- Regularly changing bed sheets
- Bathing animals frequently
- Taking more showers
- Using air filters
- Keeping doors and windows closed
Overall, fighting fall allergies naturally gets to the root of the issue instead of simply relieving symptoms. Don’t let allergies take the fun out of fall this year! Try some of these tips and remember to always consult with your doctor if you need help or have questions.
If you are finding that these tips don’t help, get in contact with Dr. Lisa Ballehr, Functional Medicine Doctor located in Mesa, Arizona. She can assess you to see what is causing all your symptoms and help get to the root cause. You may be dealing with other underlying issues that you aren’t aware of. You can take her FREE online health assessment today to start feeling good again and enjoy this beautiful time of the year!