It’s still winter, but if you’re one of the many people who are plagued every year by spring allergies, now is the time to start preparing yourself. You might be able to prevent spring allergies, but you must start acting now.
Allergies in the spring are usually caused by pollen. Pollen comes from trees and even though you often can’t see it, it’s blowing in the wind hoping to land on another tree and fertilize it. With most flowers, pollination happens through bees or other insects, but trees have wind-borne spores making it much easier for it to deposit in your nose, eyes and hands.
Most of us wait until pollen season is in full swing, then start taking allergy medicines and locking the doors and staying inside. But after a long winter, who wants to stay inside all day!?
Once pollen or other allergens deposit in your nasal cavity, your body labels them as invaders and works to get rid of them. Runny nose, sneezing, coughing and other common allergy symptoms are the result of your body trying to get rid of these particles.
How to Prevent Spring Allergies
The key to preventing spring allergies is reducing inflammation and lowering your inflammatory load.
Inflammation is at the root of many health problems. What happens is poor diet, lack of exercise, too much stress, etc., causes the body to become inflamed. You might not ever notice it, but this inflammation slowly wreaks havoc on just about every part of your body. Reducing inflammation may be the cure for many ailments, including allergies, which occur as part of an inflammatory response.
We have a threshold with irritants. Think about it like if you’re cranky, maybe the day started poorly, you ran out of gas, you forgot to run an errand, your kids won’t pick up their rooms, etc. One thing on it’s own may not be that big of a deal, but as the day goes on and the little stressors compound, you end the day angry and any little thing sets you off. Your body is similar. Every little stressor on its own isn’t that big of a deal, but poor diet, a stressful job, environmental toxins and other stressors slowly tax your body. If you’re at or near your threshold all the time, every little thing will set the inflammatory response into action. But, if you are only half full of these toxins or stressors, you have more room to fill before it overflows (so to speak). Imagine coming into pollen season with less inflammation. It’s possible that you won’t suffer any symptoms because the particles aren’t enough to set you off.
So how can you reduce this load and prevent spring allergies in the first place?
- Get proper rest
- Eat fresh fruits and veggies, avoid processed foods and stay away from the foods that cause inflammation (many of us are sensitive to dairy and gluten, for example)
- Exercise regularly
- Lower your stress
- Laugh more
- Make time for nourishing activities, like reading, taking a bath, meditating, yoga, journaling, etc.
- Do more of the things you love and less of the things that stress you out
- Get some fresh air and sunshine (perhaps even take a vacation)
- Use a neti pot to flush harmful particles from your nasal passages (and always then lubricate with a nasal oil)
- Keep windows closed when pollen season starts
- Take anti-inflammatory supplements like Quercetin, which has been found to help alleviate allergy symptoms
You might notice that the key, not only to prevent spring allergies but overall health and well-being, is to live a healthy, low-stress, high-activity lifestyle. Not easy, but so worth it.
Now it’s your turn. What has helped you with spring allergies in the past and what are you planning to do this year? Post your experiences in the comments.