Why I started to look for ways to help allergies naturally
Looking for ways to help allergies naturally isn’t the first thing most people usually try, but when medications don’t provide relief what else can you do? Allergies can be frustrating, and finding the right treatment can be even more frustrating. They may be seasonal or year-round misery. According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, 1 in 5 people experience some sort of allergy. I personally don’t have much of an issue with allergies. An occasional itchy nose when around cats or a short sneezing attack when dusting is the worst I tend to experience. The problem I have with allergies is my husband. He is allergic to everything and constantly experiencing a runny nose, sneezing, coughing and headaches. Tissues shoved up the nose is not a good look for a grown man.
My first instinct was definitely NOT to go the natural route. Being a registered nurse my first idea was medications, so we tried to find the right otc antihistamine. When that failed it was Dr. apt for prescriptions. Eventually referral to an allergist. Allergy shots for years. This is something I would highly recommend. The allergy shots did help and also he was severely allergic to bee stings. Life-threatening allergic. The allergy shots did help for the bee allergy and for some of the other allergies too. The only downfall is he developed new allergies. After the allergist, he was better off and had life-threatening allergies under control but still suffered from allergies year round. It started to feel as if the allergies were gradually getting worse and he started getting sick for long periods of time.
Next was an ear nose and throat (ENT) Doctor because his sinuses were always stuffed he couldn’t breathe through his nose and had daily headaches. Living on ibuprofen every couple hours for the headaches with only a little relief wasn’t a good way to live. The ENT doctor discovered he had large polyps in his sinuses and surgery was scheduled. Hoping the surgery would improve the headaches and chronically plugged sinuses we went in hopeful. Pain is always expected anytime part of your body is cut into so headaches and stuffed nose for a while after were expected. We just expected it to eventually go away, it did not. He was getting sinuses infections on a regular basis and not any better off than before the surgery.
I admit I may be just a little stubborn. I was sure the answer was in conventional medicine and we would eventually get a solution. All the Dr. appointments, shots and surgery took a long time. It was about 10 years from the first doctor’s appointment to one year after sinus surgery. It took me this long before I looked into anything alternative. I can assure you natural remedies are not typically the first idea most nurses because modern medicine tends to look down on and alternative health remedies. I was convinced it wouldn’t work and be a waste of money. It took me 10 years before I was willing to even consider it. After 10 years I broke down and finally began to look for natural ways to help allergies.
How can I help allergies naturally?
Typing this into google can feel like you just feel down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, you have no idea what you will find and most of it is really weird. Some natural remedies could have been written by the mad hatter and some sound like solid advice. It’s hard to tell the difference. Starting out with basic general health information and slowing trying other things as we learned we had some success. My poor husband was a guinea pig for it all. I’ll go more in depth in following posts but there are some easy ways to start. First off if you are taking OTC allergy medications that are helping some or prescriptions don’t just stop taking them. This will only make it worse. Medications tend to help treat the symptoms but when you’re miserable all you care about is the symptom control.
Again these are just the simplest ways to help allergies naturally. These are a great place to start and slowly add more things that may help. After starting some of these things my husband was able to get a little relief from the daily headaches. Also, he wasn’t getting sick as often. The easiest things didn’t fix everything but it is a great starting point.
- Hydration: One of the easiest things that can be done is drink enough water. Shoot for about half your body weight in ounces. You can read many things about how it helps remove toxins and the great things it does for you but the bottom line is water is good for you. Being hydrated will help thin secretions and help get rid of it so you’re less likely to end up with plugged sinuses. In general being well hydrated helps the overall function of your body.
- Diet: An elimination diet can be helpful. It can also be kind of a pain. There is no way I would be able to get my husband to do this so instead after he would eat I just asked how he felt. Just paying attention to if your allergies are worse about 20 mins after a meal can be helpful. There can be foods you are sensitive to and have no idea. Some symptoms are subtle so try and pay close attention. It could be your nose stuffs up or your stomach hurting or just not feeling well. Keeping a journal of what foods you ate and how you felt afterward can be useful. Getting enough fruits and vegetables is important. Improving eating habits could have a benificial impact on your allergies.
- Sugar: Processed sugar is hard on the body. I am not saying to never have it but limit it as much as possible. It doesn’t do great things for the immune system and allergies are an immune system problem. Try honey instead (never give honey to infants under 1 year old) but don’t go crazy with it. Many people believe local honey can help with allergies. I can’t find any great studies on this yet but replacing processed sugar with a little raw local honey is worth a try. If you don’t like honey try a little pure maple syrup instead.
- Probiotics: Try to start a month or two before allergy season. If your allergies are year-round then start them as soon as you can. The gut has a lot to do with your immune system and improving the good bacteria can benefit those with allergies. Just a warning it may take several months to notice a difference. If you’re going through the trouble to get the good bacteria in eat some healthy fiber to feed them to keep them around.
- Herbs and supplements: There are no quality regulations on these so be careful what brands you try. If you’re going to try something you want to know that what the bottle says is in the capsules is truly what is in the capsule. There are many different herbs, vitamins, and supplements that may help.
- Avoiding: Avoiding allergins works but it is also inconvenient if you want to go for a hike but are allergic to every growing thing outside. If you aren’t going to live in a bubble try taking a shower before bed. It’s a great way to get the allergens off you before you go to sleep. It could help you sleep better and you are not spreading allergins to your sheets. Take your shoes off in the house. this helps control the spread of allergens in the house. Wash sheets in hot water. The hot water helps kills dust mites. Wash the sheets about once a week if you are having allergy problems. If you have sheets that have been in a closet for a long be aware they may have collected dust. There are other ways but these are simple things to do first.
- Exercise: The immune system is throughout your entire body. If your immune system is overactive and causing allergies or your sick for prolonged periods of time improving your general health improves everything. Exercise is a great way to improve health just try to find something you actually enjoy. A minimum goal should be 20 mins 3 times a week and work up to at least 20 mins 5 times a week.
These are some of the easiest ways to start but don’t just stop taking allergy medication and switch to natural ways to control allergies. If your allergies improve you may be able to slowly take less (if the med is dr. prescribed make sure to check with them before stopping). Don’t be discouraged if you find you can stop allergy medications when you are not exposed to as many allergins but have to restart during allergy season. Making some lifestyle changes can have a big impact in a few months but really fixing or controlling the problem may take longer. Don’t give up there is hope. Everyone’s body is different it may take trying a few different things or more or less time to see changes, but when you find what works for you there can be big improvements.