Allergy free living at home may seem out of reach for those suffering from lingering symptoms such as itchy eyes, hives, sneezing, even difficulties breathing. Most of us have dealt with allergies at some point in our lives. If not, you may count yourself as one of the lucky few as researchers believe that nasal allergies may affect roughly 50 million people in the U.S; this doesn't even include other allergy types, such as skin, food, and drug allergies.
Not all allergies are completely curable, but there are many steps, outside of prescription or over-the-counter medications that you can take to relieve and remedy your allergies in a natural way. Learn more about different ways to naturally live allergy free at home!
Allergy Types and Symptoms
The first step to naturally relive allergies is to find the source, or sources, of the allergens. Allergies can enter your body and cause symptoms in many different ways: inhaled through your nose and into your lungs, ingested by mouth, by injection (like medicine through a needle or insect sting), or through absorption (plants like poison ivy or other materials).
Think about where you are when you feel an allergy attack coming on and how you feel before, during, and after the symptoms begin. The season and time of year can really affect allergies. Spring and summer months have more plants and weeds blooming, thus more pollen is floating in the air. Fall and winter months show an increase of ragweed, mold, and dust mites which can be more bothersome when people are spending more time indoors, especially when a furnace or heating unit turns on. Paying close attention to your body and how it reacts to external factors will tell you a lot about how to relieve and prevent uncomfortable allergens.
Preventing and Controlling Allergies
Taking steps to controlling allergic reactions before they happen can make it much easier on you and your family in the event that they do occur. Of course the first thing to do is to avoid your known allergens at any cost. Sometimes this is impossible, but reducing the amount of contact you have with it will still help. However, what happens when you develop allergies that you're unable to pin-point the source. If this continues to happen, try keeping a journal or diary for a short time to record any activities you may be doing, foods you're eating, clothing that you're wearing, or where you are at the time of an allergy attack. Finding similarities between the different instances of allergy attacks can reveal information that you may have never realized before!
For those who live with more severe allergies, maintaining your prescribed medicine and daily routines are imperative to keeping symptoms at bay. For those who are more at risk for anaphylaxis, an extreme and rapid allergic reaction that can be fatal, should wear a medical bracelet or keep an epinephrine pen on them at all times as a precaution to any unfortunate incident that may occur. No matter what your level of allergy reaction may be, having a plan of action, and knowing what to do during a reaction can be life-saving!
Cleaner Indoor Air
When you're indoors, it's important to know that the air you're breathing is clean and free from allergens and pollutants. While you may not be able to control the air condition in every room, the air quality in your home is most important! The air in your home contains a multitude of harmful elements including dust, pet hair, dander, and mold spores that can reproduce in damp areas of your home.
Make sure to change your air filter on a regular basis, and more frequently if you have pets or children. There are many different brands and types of air filters that can suit your family's needs including HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters. You can also try using a dehumidifier to keep excess moisture out of the air, which causes mold, mildew, and other bacteria to thrive.
Keep your air clean by ensuring that windows and doors are fully closed; take it one step further by checking the seals around your entryways and windows if mold is suspected. For an extra natural way to get clean air, include a variety of indoor plants in your home to improve and help purify air quality.
Cleaner Sheets and Bedding
This may seem like an obvious solution to relieving allergies, but changing your bedding on a regular basis will work wonders for your health, and the quality of your sleep. However, don't limit yourself to just regular cleaning sessions; research and shop for the healthiest bedding you can find. Yes, healthy bedding exists; bed sheets that keep you cool and dry, and pillows that repel dust mites naturally for a cleaner breathing environment. Healthy bedding provides a fresh environment that aids the quality of your sleep and immune system.
Not all bedding is created equal. Many bedding manufacturers make claims about their sheets that may or may not be true. Make sure you choose a bed set that is made from clean, healthy, and environmentally friendly materials. For example, sleeping on bedding that contains eucalyptus fibers (Tencel+Plus™) almost immediately takes action against dust mites and other allergens that are in and around your bed. Contrary to popular belief, humans aren't actually allergic to the dust mites themselves. In fact, it is the dust mite's feces that we are allergic to! The bed is a popular spot for these mites because there is such a large concentration of skin cells on the bed and mattresses...which is what dust mites feed on.
Aside from constant washing and cleaning of your bed and mattress, this disgusting cycle can also be stopped by adding a mattress encasement and pillow protectors to your bed set. Mattress and pillow protectors safeguard from allergens and irritants such as dust mites, bed bugs, mold and dead skin; this includes eliminating any pre-existing outbreak of dust mites or bed bugs.
Pets and Animals
Believe it or not, your beloved dog or cat could be the culprit of nightly allergy flare ups. Even though you get along fine normally, allowing them to share a bed or room with you at night could be causing extra trouble, especially during allergy season. Their thick fur easily collects pollen, dust, and dirt – not to mention their own natural dander.
Make an effort to clean your home on a regular basis to pick up extra dust/hair and monitor where you allow your pets to go in your home. Pets can also carry allergens back inside with them after taking a walk or spending time in your backyard. Keeping them out of your bedroom all of the time, or at least only at night helps reduce the amount of allergens that can build up on the floor, bed, and other furniture. Don't forget to also regularly bathe your pets too!
Cleaning to Prevent Allergens
Keeping your home clean is an excellent way to prevent and reduce the amount of allergens that you and your family may be exposed to on a regular basis. Vacuum once or twice a week with a cleaner that contains a HEPA filter. A HEPA filter will catch small allergens that would otherwise pass right through a regular vacuum filter. Basically, your vacuum could literally be sucking up allergens, and kicking them back up in to the air.
Make sure you wear a dust mask while cleaning: this will limit your exposure to allergens you may be stirring up during cleaning sessions. Here are a few more strategies on cleaning for allergy preventative tips.
- Change your shower curtain liner or purchase a removable liner you can wash.
- Wash bed sheets weekly in hot water which will kill any dust mites.
- Be mindful of scented cleaners or detergents. Allergies can be triggered by fragrances contained in cleaners; look for fragrance-free products including your detergent.
- Don't air dry laundry outside, use a clothes dryer instead. Items left outside to dry will pick up pollen and mold.
- Don't shampoo carpets as the leftover moisture could cause mold growth and increase dust mites. We suggest replacing carpets with tiles or wood flooring – carpet traps allergens.
- Switch from drapes and horizontal blinds to roller shades.
- Change your forced air filter every 3-4 months, 2-3 if you have pets. A quality allergen filter for your furnace or AC unit will capture up to 90% of large airborne particles.
Most people are familiar with common allergy-causing foods including cereals containing gluten, milk, nuts, fish, and egg to name a few. However, are you familiar with foods that actually combat allergens? We've compiled a helpful list of allergy-fighting foods that we highly recommend you start incorporating in to your daily diet. No food will cure your allergies, but they will provide essential nutrients to keep you healthy, lessen the severity of symptoms, and protect from reactions. Here are 8 foods we highly recommend.
- Kiwi is a fuzzy fruit containing a healthy dose of vitamin C which can cut down on histamines – also consider oranges and other citrus fruits.
- Kefir contains probiotics that provide good bacteria that live in your stomach extremely helpful to prevent or lessen seasonal allergies. Alternatives include sauerkraut and kimchi.
- Green tea without caffeine contains natural antihistamines – great in the morning.
- Spicy foods can be an instigator when pollen counts are high which can trigger allergy symptoms. So avoid spicy foods during allergy seasons.
- Mediterranean diets have been known to lessen the effects of those suffering from asthma. This diet consists of fruits, vegetables, beans, olive oil, and whole grains.
- Wasabi is fantastic for opening up your nasal passage and helping you breathe better. It also has the potential to increase natural histamines in your system.
- Reducing your salt intake may reduce the need for medications for people with asthma.
- Berries, onions, and peppers contain quercetin, a natural plant chemical that may reduce the severity of allergic reactions.
Seasonal Allergy Tips
Depending on where you live, high counts of pollen, mold, or ragweed during spring or fall can be a nightmare for those suffering from seasonal allergies. It may be next to impossible to avoid being exposed to such elements. Seasonal symptoms can cause everything from a runny nose to itchy eyes and congestion. Sometimes referred to as hay fever, seasonal allergies can linger if not held in check, causing more long term issues like fatigue, sinus pain, sore throat, and coughing. Regardless of severity, seasonal allergies are inevitable, and those impacted dread those calendar months.
However, seasonal allergy victims are not helpless. It's difficult to predict how bad an allergy season will be, but you can prepare and lessen the impact. Here are a few tips on best ways to get ready for seasonal allergies.
- Keep doors and windows closed during spring cleaning. Yes, it's tempting to open the windows for some fresh air, but think about all of the allergens you'd be letting in.
- Change your clothes when you get home. You may be spreading pollen spores throughout your home and your clothes are the carrier.
- Replace air filters on your AC unit or furnace regularly and make sure you purchase the proper type of filter specific to allergen protection.
- Shower before getting in bed. You could be transferring allergens from your skin and hair straight on to your pillow.
- Eliminate mold. Invest in a dehumidifier, remove any trace of mold growth, and check for leaks near windows, doors, faucets; etc.
- Track allergen levels. Check weather stations daily or download a weather app for alerts.
- Use a nasal rinse a few times a day. Nasal irrigation helps protect your sinus membranes alleviating sneezing, itching, sinus headaches, nasal congestion; etc.
We touched on quite a few tips and guidelines that may help prevent and/or reduce allergens as well as controlling the severity of allergy symptoms. Most people suffering from allergies face these same issues on a daily basis, symptoms are inevitable, but relief and preventative methods do exist. So be more proactive; get an early jump before the start of allergy seasons, and control you home environment.