Ahhh, spring. A bright blue sky, flowers blooming, the buzzing of bees heard all around you.
But then comes the tickle. That sniffle, that sneeze. Yikes… it’s allergy season.
Allergies are among one of the most common diseases, affecting about 30% of adults and 40% of children in the United States (1). While some experience only mild symptoms, others really struggle to enjoy the season.
In this article, we’re going to go over what allergies are, different types, and what you can do to cope.
What are Allergies?
So what are allergies, exactly? Research shows that when otherwise harmless particles enter your body (whether through inhalation, touch, eating or drinking), your immune system sees these as a threat and sends out white blood cells to attack them (4).
Types of Allergies
Pollen isn’t the only allergy during this time of year. There are actually 10 kinds of common allergies, divided into different groups (3). Allergies can come from:
- Food: fish, shellfish, soy, milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, and treenuts can all cause allergic reactions
- Pollen: spring is a time many plants and grasses send out pollen as part of their reproductive life cycle. This allergy is also known as hay fever.
- Animals: dogs, cats, and other furry pets have oils that coat their skin. Some people can be allergic to pet dander, or the flakes of skin or hair.
- Fragrances: certain chemicals in many of today’s room fresheners, laundry soaps, or perfumes can cause throat and nose irritation (2).
- Mold: mold that has grown in warm, damp areas can release spores into the air. If inhaled, it can irritate your nose and throat.
- Latex: derived from the sap of a tree, latex is used in many products today. Those who are allergic respond to the proteins in the tree sap used to make the latex (8).
- Insect bites/stings: most people respond to an insect bite or sting with a red, raised bump. Some swelling may occur. Those with allergies may go into anaphylaxis and need immediate attention.
- Cockroaches: interestingly enough, it’s not the actual bug people are allergic to, but a protein in their feces (6).
- Dust Mites: similar to cockroaches, people who are allergic to dust mites are actually allergic to the protein they produce when they urinate, defecate, or as their bodies break down after death (7).
- Medications: most medications should have a warning about certain side effects, including possible allergic reactions. Penicillin is a common medication that can produce allergic reactions.
With many different types of allergies, how do you know if you have any? Below are some of the most common symptoms among those with seasonal allergies:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
Some of these symptoms can be mistaken for other illnesses like a common cold or other respiratory disease. If you always seem to be battling nasal congestion, sinus infections, or have a hard time breathing, consider making an appointment with your doctor.
What you can do
You don’t merely want to survive this spring, you want to thrive. And while allergy season isn’t entirely avoidable, there are some things you can do to lessen the severity of it.
Some of the best things you can do to cope with seasonal allergies are (5):
- Drink lots of water, as dehydration can worsen symptoms
- Remove contact lenses
- Delegate lawn chores to someone else
- Don’t rub your eyes
- Stay indoors on windy days
- Use air conditioner in your car and house
- Keep allergen filters in your house maintained
- Use eye drops when needed
- Don’t hang your clothes outside to dry
- Avoid outdoor activity in the morning, when pollen amounts tend to be highest
If you’re trying to get away from over-the-counter medications but don’t want to spend your whole springtime miserable, there are natural allergy-fighting options.
With their anti-inflammatory properties, you can try any of these top five natural antihistamines:
- Stinging nettle: this delicate plant has shown positive results in treating allergies, due to its antihistamine effects (12).
- Butterbur: an extract from this small Asian shrub, Butterbur has been clinically tested to be an effective antihistamine (9).
- Quercetin: this antioxidant flavonoid can be found in foods like apples, berries, broccoli, and black tea. Research finds that regular consumption can lower allergy symptoms due to its antihistamine properties (11)
- Bromelain: this is an enzyme found in the cores of pineapple. It’s been shown to naturally reduce allergic sensitization in mice (10).
Boosting your immune system by taking in lots of vitamin c and probiotics can help, too.
Springtime can be a glorious time of renewal… and a dreary time for seasonal allergies. With pollen making its way to another plant, insects coming out of hibernation, and doing a lot of spring cleaning, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings to account for any potential allergy triggers.
There are many different kinds of allergies, but thankfully there are also different precautions you can take to make the season more enjoyable. Keeping up with your air filters, drying clothes indoors, vacuuming often, and planning your day can make a big difference in how well you minimize your allergy risks.
Taking natural antihistamines can also play a role in being able to fully enjoy this lively season. Make sure to research different brands for optimal quality.
Do you usually suffer from seasonal allergies? If so, now you have some tools in your tool belt. Which ones will you try this year? Let us know!
References & Disclaimer
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author