Senior Health

4/6/2021 | By Kari Smith

Allergy season is in full effect! Budding trees, growing grass, and more time outdoors mark the welcome promise of spring. Unfortunately, for many allergy sufferers, all of that beauty also brings pesky allergens such as the dreaded yellow layer of pollen and sneeze-inducing grasses and weeds. If your first instinct is NOT to reach for an over the counter or prescription medication, you are not alone. Many allergy sufferers experience side effects like drowsiness from traditional allergy medications and find themselves searching for preventative measures or natural remedies for spring allergies instead.

1. Avoid Allergens

The easiest step? Avoid things that trigger allergies.

Although you may be tempted to sit on that front porch swing and breathe in the fresh air with your morning coffee, high pollen counts may be a good reason to stay indoors and keep your windows closed. If cigarette smoke irritates you, avoid smokers or smoke-friendly establishments. Do certain perfumes, sprays, and scents set you off? Be sure to avoid the detergent aisle in the grocery store and the fragrance counter at the mall, and let loved ones – especially those who live with you – know if colognes or products they use tend to trigger your allergies.

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2. Try Allergy Testing

If you do not know what your triggers are, you may need to consult with an allergist and undergo allergy testing.

Some triggers, such as smoke, pet dander, or perfumes, may be obvious, but many more are not. You may not know to be vigilant about dusting your house if you do not realize you are allergic to dust or dust mites.

3. Keep It Clean!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – and that includes natural remedies for spring allergies. When you come inside, remove your shoes and leave them at the door. Walking over a pollen-coated sidewalk results in pollen-coated shoes. If you walk through your house, you are spreading that pollen throughout the area where you spend the most time. If you have been outdoors – especially cutting grass or gardening, showering and change clothes immediately, since outdoor particles have settled on your clothing, body, and hair.

Of course, some particles will still come inside, and some originate indoors, so keep your home clean using natural cleaners. Chemical-filled cleaners can also cause and aggravate allergies. Avoid carpeting and replace with hard flooring if possible. Consider installing HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration systems in your HVAC system, furnace, or vacuum to help clean your air. Clean air filters and air vents while wearing a protective facemask, or invest in a housekeeper to avoid dust triggers. Lastly, change your linens! Given that you spend many hours a day on those sheets, wash in warm water regularly to avoid breathing in triggering particles night after night.

4. Rinse It Out

Although many people consider using a saline sinus rinse as one of the best natural remedies for spring allergies, it is also a helpful preventative tool. After spending time in an allergen-filled environment, use a nasal rinse kit to clean your sinuses. Add pre-measured packets of solution (or make yourself) to warm water, and gently flush nostrils. In addition to cleaning, sinus rinses also help to moisten nasal passages. Use distilled water, or boil tap water before using to remove any bacteria or harmful organisms.

In addition to sinus rinses, there are also many saline nasal sprays and even saline nasal gels available that may be easier or more comfortable for some allergy sufferers.

5. Stay Hydrated

If you are suffering from congestion, be sure to drink plenty of water, which will help to clear post-nasal drip and thin mucus secretions. Warm liquids like hot tea or clear broths may also bring relief.

If your nasal passages are dried out, try inhaling steam. Take a hot shower, or just sit in the bathroom while hot water is running. Or, fill a bowl with very hot water, add a few drops of an essential oil (like eucalyptus) if you’d like, and lean over the water with a towel draped over your head to help trap the steam. Be sure to keep your eyes closed, especially if you have added an essential oil to your hot water.

Allergies are common, and allergy pills are an easy answer. However, if your priority is preventing allergy-induced health issues and treating them as naturally as possible, there are many natural remedies for spring allergies to try before resorting to medication – or to use in combination with it!

Kari Smith

Kari Smith is a frequent contributor to Seniors Guide, helping to keep those in the senior industry informed and up-to-date. She's a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a songwriter recording her own music. In addition to teaching music and performing in the Richmond area, Kari also enjoys riding horses and farming.

Kari Smith