Achoo! Want to reduce seasonal allergies? Try these methods.
Allergy reactions always remind me of a roll call of the Seven Dwarfs: Sneezy, Grumpy? Here. Dopey and Sleepy, if you need to take strong allergy medicine. Doc is here if you need an appointment with the allergist. But in all seriousness, seasonal allergic rhinitis, or “hay fever” can make the summer months pretty miserable. For this week’s Healthy Habit, I went in pursuit of a few easy, natural ways to reduce allergy reactions.
- De-mold. We associate seasonal allergic rhinitis with the outdoor pollen, and that’s true, but take charge where you can by keeping your home’s humidity at 50 percent or below to avoid mold growth. (An inexpensive device called a hygrometer can track humidity levels.) Indoor houseplants can be a problem, too, as the soil surrounding the plant can bring mold spores into your home. At least move the plants out of your bedroom.
- Try butterbur. You may have heard about this herb being used to treat migraine, but butterbur (Petasites hybridus) also performed as well as over the counter Zyrtec and Allegra in one study. Note: Only use butterbur products that are certified and labeled free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids.
- Seal up. Normally, I’m all for throwing the windows open to avoid colds and flu. But in allergy season, keep the windows shut if you are prone to pollen woes. Change the filter on the air conditioner every 20 to 45 days, advises heating and air conditioning company Service Experts. Turn your car’s AC setting to the recirculate mode. ABC News reports that using an air conditioner in your car can reduce the amount of pollen you breathe by up to 30 percent.
- Rinse your schnozz. A neti pot flushes out the sinuses, removing dust and pollen, and loosening mucus, reports the FDA. Ahhh. However, it advises creating the saline mixture you’ll use to rinse with distilled, sterile water, or boiled and cooled tap water, rather than water straight from the tap. In rare instances, tap water contains pathogens that can be dangerous in the nasal cavity.
- Create a nighttime ritual. Take a shower or bath at night and shampoo before you turn in at night. A soothing evening cleanse gets all the pollen out of the hair and off the skin before you slide into those crisp sheets for midsummer eve, hopefully breathing easily.