After months of waiting, the weather’s finally (sort of) warming up and it’s almost time to head outdoors and enjoy the sun.
But for about 25 per cent of Canadians, warm weather means spring and summer allergies that make it hard to function, much less appreciate the outdoors.
With the seasonal allergies typically lasting at least two months, it’s hard to see an end to constant sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose. These symptoms are most often triggered by irritants such as pollen, grass, mould, dust mites and pet fur.
There are several possible causes for allergies, including some genetic ones. According to Canadian Living, children whose parents both have allergies have a 60 to 80 per cent chance of developing them. Those with asthma are also particularly prone to having allergies and usually more severe symptoms.
The effects of allergy season aren’t getting any better either. According to the nonprofit, Climate Nexus, climate change will lead to earlier and longer springs, which means more pollen and dust in the air.
While there are a myriad of conventional medications and natural remedies for allergies, most only provide temporary relief.
Jennifer Baer, a Toronto-based naturopathic doctor, says she recommends naturopathic medicine to avoid side-effects of conventional medicine.
“Conventional medications typically offer symptomatic relief, but may also have an undesirable sedating effect,” she tells the Huffington Post Canada.
Baer says naturopathy takes a more holistic approach, suggesting diet and lifestyle changes.
For example, she says those who are prone to allergies can minimize symptoms by cutting mucous forming foods such as dairy, animal fat, sugar and bananas. She says lifestyle changes like cleaning the house regularly and replacing old mattresses can also help.
Allergy shots are one conventional way to prevent or minimize the effects of allergies. Although they require several doses, they are known for long-term effectiveness. Because the shots involve injecting the body with the substance that causes the allergy in an effort to make your body immune to it over time, there are certain risks involved, notes the Mayo Clinic. There may be swelling and discomfort at the injection site, and increased allergic reactions in the short term, while your body learns how to fight off the reaction.
Whether you choose conventional or naturopathic remedies, both can have health risks so it’s important to consult an expert beforehand.
Check out these 10 natural remedies for allergies:
1. Neti pots with saline solution: Fill the pot with salt water; pour water up one nostril until it flows out the other. It may be messy, but gets rid of any unwanted bacteria and stuffiness in your nasal airway.
2. Hot showers: A hot shower does wonders for stuffed airways and cleanses skin of bacteria and pollen.
3. Peppermint tea: Peppermint tea contains menthol, which is a decongestant and helps break up mucus.
4. Steam your face: Steaming provides relief the same way hot showers do, but can be quicker. For extra effectiveness add Vicks or eucalyptus oil to the water as it boils.
5. Wash your pet: There can be allergens on your pet’s fur and bacteria from saliva, so give them a bath every few weeks.
6. Dehumidify: Remove access moisture to prevent mould from forming in your house.
7. Eat honey: Although there’s little science to back it up, honey is widely used to prevent allergy symptoms. The theory is that since bees transfer pollen from flowers to honey, eating it every day will make you less prone to its irritating effects.
8. Try herbs and supplements: There are tons of supplements out there that promise relief from allergies. A popular one is a plant extract called butterbur, which is said to reduce airway inflammation.
9. Spicy food: Nothing cleans clogged nasal airways like spicy food does.
10. Probiotics: Probiotics boost your immune system and can help prevent allergies from starting.