When your immune system overreacts to an airborne substance that doesn’t bother everyone around you, you have allergies. Pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores and insect stings are the biggest culprits of seasonal allergies.
Increased pollen counts and higher temperatures across the globe are contributing to longer and more severe allergy seasons. This means many people who’ve never had an issue before are experiencing seasonal allergy symptoms for the first time. However, because these symptoms are so similar to the common cold, many just assume they’ve caught a bug. If this sounds familiar, the best way to tell the difference between allergies and a cold is whether you have a fever. If you’ve been feeling unwell for 7 days or longer without a fever, you are probably suffering from seasonal allergies.
When you seek medical treatment for allergy symptoms, your doctor will typically prescribe medications or injections to help you feel better. But the good news is that there are a lot of things you can do at home to alleviate seasonal allergies without medication.
Ten ways to control allergies without medication
The best way to control allergies without medication is to avoid them altogether, but that’s not always possible, or realistic. Some allergens like pollen are tiny, which means they can travel long distances and cover a lot of ground, surfaces, skin and hair. So, unless you have severe allergy symptoms that require medication, there are a lot of ways you can alleviate your symptoms and get back to doing the things you love, including:
- Saline nasal irrigation
A nasal rinse clears mucus from your nose and can ease allergy symptoms. Not only can it reduce nasal drip, but it can also wash out any bacteria or allergies you’ve inhaled.
- HEPA filters
A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is a mechanical filter that works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles like pollen, pet dander, dust mites and tobacco smoke. Replace HEPA filters monthly for best results.
- Try Probiotics
Probiotics may help reduce allergy symptoms when taken during allergy season. Some strains of beneficial bacteria (e.g., Bifidobacterium longum) have been shown to regulate t-cells (think soldiers for your immune system), which can help produce a stronger immune response to common allergens.
- Take vitamin C
Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine by reducing the amount of histamine your body produces in response to an allergen. It might help reduce mild symptoms like congestion, runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes. The recommended dose is 2,000 milligrams per day.
- Keep out breezes
Keep windows and doors closed and turn on the A/C if needed, especially when the pollen count is high. This will help lower your exposure to irritants.
- Wash up
When you return home from outdoor activities, remove your outer layers and shoes before entering your home. Once inside, wash your skin and hair to remove as much pollen as possible and put your clothes in the washing machine. This may seem excessive, but it may help you get through allergy season with less aggravating symptoms if you make it a habit.
- Wear a mask
Mask-wearing has become commonplace for many people, and with good reason. Not only does it help protect others from your cold or flu symptoms, it can also help protect you from pollen and other allergens. In fact, an N95 respirator mask (available at most drug stores, medical supply stores and home improvement retailers) will block 95 percent of small particles that cause seasonal allergies.
- Eat Healthy
Add some fresh fruit and vegetables to every meal to help boost antioxidants and vitamin C levels and reduce inflammation. These will both provide some allergy relief.
- Stay hydrated
Water, sugar-free juice and other nonalcoholic beverages can thin mucus in your nasal passages and help you find relief. Warm teas, broth and soup also provide a bit of beneficial steam.
- Inhale some steam
Hold your head over a warm bowl or sink full of water and place a towel over your head to trap the steam. This is an easy and effective way to ease a stubborn, stuffy nose and help you breathe easier. You can also linger in the shower and take a few deep breaths.
If you have any symptoms that feel like a cold, but you’ve been under the weather for more than a week, you may have seasonal allergies. Visit Getwell Urgent Care to get the relief you need. Walk-ins welcome 7 days a week from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.