Allergy season has descended upon us. This is the year for sniffles, sneezes, runny or blocked noses. Heads throb with congestion headaches and blurry, watery eyes constrain to see through all the pollen and dust.
You might be victim to any number of these complaints, and more. Many people suffer seasonal and even year-round allergies.
The big pain lie in figuring out what’s triggering the allergies and how to make it stop. There are a number of temporary, over the counter fixes such as allergy pills, nose sprays, and nose strips. There are also prescription strength solutions that are necessary when the symptoms escalate to the point of restricted breathing, out-of-control skin rashes, and a discomfort that’s severe enough to interfere with everyday life.
Finding out what’s triggering the allergies and discovering more sustainable solutions can empower the allergy sufferer to not only feel better but to also set the body up for a stronger immune system down the line. This is key when it comes to more serious illness and a higher quality of life.
Here’s where to start:
Number one: Try a Functional Medicine Approach: Focus on discovering the root cause for the symptoms, rather than temporarily masking the symptoms only to have them come up again later. Dr. Hyman of the Institute for Functional Medicine shares “Functional Medicine is medicine by cause not by symptom. We focus on finding the root cause, while most conventional treatment focuses on just suppressing the symptoms.” With asthmatic patients, Hyman runs tests to find out what could be irritating the immune system and causing the inflammation that leads to allergies and asthma symptoms. In many cases, simply adjusting the diet, eliminating trigger foods, and improving one’s activity levels have cleared up the symptoms of his patients.
Number two: Assess your diet: The immune system lives in the gut and many popular modern foods create a lot of inflammation in the gut. Paul Mittman, N.D., president of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, explains “Eating foods that have an anti-inflammatory effect should be one of the first steps in treating seasonal allergies.” A great place to start is through eliminating poor quality processed foods. Look out for the number of food products that contain refined white flour, sugar, preservatives, food coloring, and fake sugars. Supercharge your diet with yummy, anti-inflammatory foods such as wild caught fish, fresh, vegetables and fish. One study supports a potential protective effect of fruity vegetables and fish intake during childhood on wheeziness and atopy.
Number three: Become aware of your breathing habits: One particular practice has significantly linked the effects chronic mouth breathing has on allergy and asthma symptoms. Someone who breathes regularly through the mouth or uses the chest muscles rather than the diaphragm to breathe could be subtly “hyperventilating,” or creating an imbalance of CO2 and O2 in the body. The constant mouth breathing also allows in significantly more allergens and irritants because the mouth cannot warm and filter the air in the same way as the nose. More mindful breathing and nose breathing more has been shown to impact allergies in a positive way.
These three steps are guides toward a direction that leads to discovering the deeper triggers for the allergy and asthma symptoms. Plenty of people expend a great deal of energy searching for allergens and trying to allergen proof their homes and life. However, there is more empowerment to redirecting some of that energy to uprooting the reasons why the immune system could be overreacting in the first place.