You’ve heard the standard advice before. To treat seasonal allergies, see your doctor, take an antihistamine, and avoid the allergen (read: stay inside) as much as possible — all good advice. Still, you might want to try these other savvy strategies for alleviating allergy symptoms — and improving your overall health.
1. Overhaul your home. It may not seem logical, but the cozy indoors is often worse for your allergies than the raw outdoors. Your home — with its fabric-covered furniture and pillows, its carpeting, tightly sealed windows, and warm, damp spaces — is like a field strewn with allergy landmines. Research shows that indoor air pollution can be up to 10 times greater than outdoor pollution and its effects much more intense, since we generally spend more than 90 percent of our time indoors. So it’s essential that you do a top-to-bottom inventory of your house to determine where allergens are congregating (bedding, carpet, damp areas, and air filters are likely spots) and clean them up.
2. Eat the right foods. Improper eating habits can cause health problems, and make existing ones worse. Eating the right foods can help alleviate many health problems, including asthma and seasonal allergies. Medical studies have repeatedly concluded that powerful chemicals called antioxidants — found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, green tea, and other foods and beverages — help battle inflammation inside your body, a critical factor in controlling allergies. Note: This advice is not for someone with a specific food allergy.
3. Lose your extra pounds. Obesity and being overweight have been linked to everything from heart disease to increased rates in cancer. Carrying extra pounds also makes it harder to breathe — a problem you don’t want when you’re suffering from allergies. More fat around your abdomen prevents your lungs from fully expanding and your diaphragm from moving downward, because they have to fight all that fat. In other words, you can’t get a good, deep breath. Losing weight will make getting the oxygen you need easier.
4. Reduce stress. Every time you’re confronted with a stressor — whether a traffic jam, fire, or bounced check — your body releases a cascade of stress hormones. They, in turn, send a volley of signals to various parts of your body to prepare it for action. If this happens day in and day out without physical release, stress can inflict its damage by affecting the very network that is supposed to guard your health: your immune system. A weakened immune system increases your chances of allergic reactions. Learning to control stress — or, at least, the way you react to stress — can help.
5. Complement your regular allergy medication with alternative remedies. The following four substances, when paired with your regular antihistamine, may relieve allergy symptoms:
A daily multivitamin and mineral supplement that includes magnesium, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and all the B vitamins
1. A cup of peppermint or chamomile tea each night before bed
2. Your choice of herbal supplements, dried ivy leaf, or pycnogenol
3. A daily dose of echinacea taken two weeks on, two weeks off.