12 Natural Ways to Defeat Allergies

Keep windows and doors closed when pollen counts are high.

1. Shut Out Breezes

It's a gorgeous day. But if the pollen count is high, keep the windows and doors closed to protect your indoor air. You can also install a HEPA filter on your air-conditioning system and a flat or panel filter on your furnace.

Butterbur extract may work as well as antihistamine medicine.

2. Consider Alternative Treatments

Butterbur is one of the most promising and well-researched. Some studies suggest that a butterbur extract called Ze 339 may work as well as antihistamine medicines. Other studies show that plant-based Phleum pratense and pycnogenol may be helpful, too.

Wash your clothes and take a shower when you get home to minimize pollen and outdoor allergens.

3. Wash Up

Each time you walk into your home, you bring small pieces of the outside world with you. After being outdoors, your clothes, shoes, hair, and skin are covered with tiny particles from everywhere you've been. Take a shower and change your clothes to wash away any allergens. Leave your shoes at the door, too.

Wear an N95 mask to keep from breathing in pollen and other allergens.

4. Wear a Mask

It'll keep allergens from getting into your airways when you can't avoid certain allergy triggers, like when you work in your yard or vacuum. An N95 respirator mask, available at most drugstores and medical supply stores, will block 95% of small particles, such as pollen and other allergens.

Eating certain fruits, vegetables, and nuts is associated with having fewer allergy symptoms.

5. Eat Healthy

In one study, children who ate lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, and nuts -- particularly grapes, apples, oranges, and tomatoes -- had fewer allergy symptoms. Researchers are still trying to figure out the link. But there's no doubt that a healthy diet is good for your whole body. Add at least one fresh fruit and veggie to every meal.

Use a nasal rinse or a neti pot to wash allergens out of your nasal passages.

6. Rinse It Out

A nasal rinse cleans mucus from your nose and can ease allergy symptoms there. It also can whisk away bacteria and thin mucus and cut down on postnasal drip. Buy a rinse kit or make one using a neti pot or a nasal bulb. Mix 3 teaspoons of iodide-free salt with 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Store this in an airtight container. To use, put 1 teaspoon of the mixture into 8 ounces of distilled or boiled then cooled water. Lean over a sink and gently flush one nostril at a time.

Drink extra liquids to thin mucus and help ease allergy symptoms.

7. Drink More

If you feel stuffy or have postnasal drip from your allergies, sip more water, juice, or other nonalcoholic drinks. The extra liquid can thin the mucus in your nasal passages and give you some relief. Warm fluids like teas, broth, or soup have an added benefit: steam.

Vacuum often and keep your home clean to keep allergies at bay.

8. Go Natural

Keep your home clean. It's one of the best ways to avoid indoor allergens. But harsh chemicals can irritate your nasal passages and aggravate your symptoms. So make natural cleaners with everyday ingredients like vinegar or baking soda. Use a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter to trap allergens. If you have severe allergies, ask someone else to tidy up.

Breathe in steam to open up congested nasal passages.

9. Get Steamy

Inhale some steam. This simple trick can ease a stuffy nose and help you breathe easier. Hold your head over a warm (but not too hot) bowl or sink full of water, and place a towel over your head to trap the steam. Or sit in the bathroom with a hot shower running.

Avoid cigarette smoke which can aggravate allergies.

10. Avoid Cigarette Smoke

It can worsen your runny, itchy, stuffy nose and watery eyes. Choose smoke-free restaurants, nightclubs, and hotel rooms. Avoid other fumes that can make your symptoms worse, too, like aerosol sprays and smoke from wood-burning fireplaces.

Acupuncture may help you relieve allergic symptoms.

11. Consider Acupuncture

This ancient practice may bring some relief. The way acupuncture affects nasal allergies is still unclear. But a few studies show that it may help. Ask your doctor if it would be good to try.

Identify your allergy triggers so you know what to avoid.

12. Know Your Triggers

You may think you know what the problem is. But are you sure? Make an appointment with an allergist for an allergy skin test to pinpoint your triggers. Then you can make a plan to avoid them.

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REFERENCES:

  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
  • American Academy of Otolaryngology.
  • Brinkhaus, B. Annals of Internal Medicine, February 2013.
  • EPA.
  • Chatzi, L. Thorax, August 2007.
  • Lee, D. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, April 2004.
  • Medical News Today.
  • National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Seasonal Allergies and Complementary Health Practices: What the Science Says."
  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health.
  • National Jewish Health.
  • Natural Therapeutics Comprehensive Database: "Allergic Rhinitis."
  • Office of Dietary Supplements.
  • James Sublett, MD, section chief of pediatric allergy, University of Louisville School of Medicine.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center.
  • University of Rochester Health Service.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Wilson, D. Phytotherapy Research, August 2010.
  • Xiu-Min Li, MD, professor of pediatrics; director, Center for Chinese Herbal Therapy for Allergy and Asthma, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York.
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