A Natural Approach to Seasonal Allergies
by Dr. Sonia Marques
As the weather warms up and spring approaches, allergy season returns for many of us with a vengeance. We all know the telltale signs: the post-nasal drip, itchy eyes, stuffy nose, congested sinuses and sneezing. It’s like having a constant cold for days, weeks, or even months on end, with no respite.
Seasonal allergies occur when the body overreacts to an environmental trigger such as pollen, dust, dander, mold, or smoke. When the exposure occurs in susceptible people, the body’s immune system releases an inflammatory chemical (histamine) that causes blood vessels to become engorged and results in redness, swelling and itchiness.
Most of us are aware of the prescription and over the counter medications that are commonly used to treat allergies. These drugs may contain active ingredients such as cetirizine, fexofenadine and diphenhydramine, which may cause common side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, muscle and back pain, headaches and dry mouth. While these do treat the symptoms of allergies and colds, they do nothing for the underlying causes.
When seeking a holistic option to combat common allergens, minimizing exposure to the triggering factors will help to minimize the effects of allergies. Ways to mitigate the body’s response by reducing the triggers include avoiding carpet and upholstered furniture that oftentimes harbors dust mites, regularly washing rugs/sheets/blankets/pillowcases, vacuuming daily with a high efficiency air filter (HEPA) style filter and utilizing a HEPA air purifier. When outdoors for prolonged periods, bathing and washing your hair as well as changing your clothes will help minimize spreading pollen indoors.
Diet also plays a vital role in our body’s response to external stimuli in at least two ways: first by preparing the body’s immune system to better fight (or prevent) the allergic response and second by helping to alleviate the symptoms of the response. Although maintaining healthy nutrition habits is always important to our wellbeing, during allergy season the following tips are especially important: eat whole, home prepared meals as often as possible to help build the body’s immune response; avoid sugars, particularly added sugars, which lead to inflammation in the body and can cause or worsen the effects of allergies and avoid dairy products, which promote mucus production and exacerbate allergy symptoms.
In addition to the avoidance of environmental triggers and dietary guidelines, chiropractic treatment is another wonderful and natural method of treating the cause of allergies. Spine misalignments prevent proper brain to body communication, which can reduce your immune system’s ability to work properly. When your immune system is not working as it should, your body will continue to overreact to perceived allergens. Receiving a safe, gentle and effective chiropractic adjustment to correct the misalignments will reduce the interference to the nervous system and improve your immune health. Your immune system will then stop overreacting to perceived allergens and can help your body naturally fight off those spring allergies.