By Susan Brown
Allergies are among the most common chronic conditions worldwide. In the United States alone, seasonal allergies affect an estimated 40 to 50 million people. Unfortunately for allergy sufferers, scientists are predicting a robust summer allergy season possibly due to climate change. Seasonal changes, considerable amounts of precipitation, and historically high levels of carbon dioxide all nourish pollen producing trees, grasses, and plants and encourage the growth of molds and fungi. Pollen counts are expected to continue to increase by as much as 30% by 2020 and may double by 2040. It’s becoming apparent that warmer spring temperatures are leading to declines in snow cover and are impacting the biological clocks of plants, leading to earlier, longer, and more intense allergy seasons and more potent allergens.
That’s bad news for people with asthma and allergy sensitivities, as symptoms are expected to be severe. “Warmer temperatures and carbon dioxide are like fertilizer for many plants that produce allergens,” said Lew Ziska, a research plant physiologist at the United States Department of Agriculture. “Given how many people already have respiratory problems like asthma, a longer, more intense allergy season can be a real public health concern.”
Seasonal allergic reactions are a sign that your immune system is working overtime. Typically, allergic reactions do not happen the first time one comes into contact with an allergen, something that is usually harmless like pollen, dust mites or mold. With additional exposure, immune systems develop sensitivities to allergens, and once recognized and memorized, react by releasing antibodies. These antibodies, known as immunoglobulin E., travel to cells that release histamines and other chemicals, resulting in irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane linings of your nose, sinuses, ears, throat and lungs.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies can include:
- Sinus pain and pressure
- Sneezing, wheezing, coughing
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes, nose, throat, and palate
- Shortness of breath
- Watery eyes
- General miserable feeling
A single ragweed plant may release as many as 1 million grains of pollen each day and can be carried by the wind for many miles. Mold spores, which grow outdoors in fields and on dead leaves, are almost impossible to avoid and can outnumber pollen grains even at the height of pollen season. Avoiding exposure to irritants and allergens is not always possible or practical. While it’s difficult to escape pollen and molds, there are some ways to at least lessen exposure:
- Keep windows closed and use air conditioning both at home and in the car, if possible. Change or clean air conditioning filters monthly.
- Avoid using window fans that can pull pollen indoors.
- Use of an indoor dehumidifier may help reduce dust mites and mold.
- Cleaning regularly with a HEPA filtered vacuum will remove dust mites and other allergens and prevent their escape back into the air.
- Wash linens and pillowcases a minimum of once each week in hot water to kill mites.
- Invest in dust mite barriers and covers for mattresses and pillows.
- Dust your home frequently and wash or dispose of the dust cloth.
- Humid bathrooms and basements are perfect mold environments. Clean them often, especially around faucets, sinks and shower heads.
- Limit outdoor time between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when pollen and mold counts are highest.
- Pay attention to pollen counts by subscribing to email alerts available from the National Allergy Bureau (NAB).
- Wear a pollen filtering mask when gardening, mowing or raking or anytime you plan to spend an extended time outdoors.
- Remove shoes and outdoor clothing as soon as possible to avoid bringing outdoor allergens indoors.
- Shower immediately and wash your hair after spending time outdoors.
- Use of over the counter antihistamines, decongestants, and saline nasal sprays can help relieve symptoms especially when used preemptively before symptoms appear. The majority of seasonal allergy medications work best at preventing symptoms from developing, and reducing the severity of symptoms that do appear.
- Use of a Neti Pot to rinse away allergens and flush the sinuses has been found to be a mild and effective way to treat symptoms.
- Quercetin, a natural plant-derived compound helps to stabilize mast cells and prevent the release of histamines.
- Stinging Nettle in freeze dried form is noted for providing seasonal support for the sinus and respiratory systems.
- Butterbur is considered a natural alternative to antihistamines and may help maintain balanced seasonal immune responses.
“By planning ahead, people with allergies can still enjoy outdoor events,” said Dr. Myron Zitt, past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
Products for allergy support:
Natural D-Hist by Ortho Molecular – This top selling product is formulated for maximum effectiveness, with carefully selected dosages of critical natural components to provide optimal support for nasal and sinus passageways. Contains quercetin, stinging nettles leaf, bromelain and NAC.
D-Hist Jr. by Ortho Molecular – Seasonal support for children with the same natural ingredients as the adult formula. Natural lemon-lime flavor.
Activated Quercetin by Source Naturals – A unique bioflavonoid derived from plant sources, quercetin has been shown to inhibit histamine release.
Nasal Rinse Cup by Banyan Botanicals – This Neti Pot is designed for ease of use to provide soothing relief for nasal dryness, gently remove excess mucus, and rinse away dust, pollen and other irritants. Crafted from sturdy, lead-free ceramic and coated with food-grade sealant glaze. Dishwasher safe.
Sinus Rinse Premixed Packets by NeilMed – Contains 100 premixed packets of pH balanced sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate mixture (USP grade, natural ingredients, isotonic, preservative & iodine free). Use with Nasal Rinse Cup for allergy and sinus relief.
SinuClenz by Physician’s Strength – Sinus nasal spray with a cleansing formula containing wild oil of oregano, bay leaf, clove bud oil, sea salt and spring water.
Stinging Nettles Freeze Dried by Planetary Herbals – For herbal respiratory support. Premium nettles have been freeze-dried to preserve the potency of the active constituents in the plant’s stinging hairs and leaves. This process ensures that Freeze-Dried Stinging Nettles will deliver all the benefits inherent in the nettle plant.