Tired of feeling congested, sneezing and coughing from allergies? Many people are not even aware that their chronic postnasal drip or stuffiness is due to allergies. Year round symptoms are often due to dust mite or animal allergies. Mold allergies are often seen in damp climates, such as here in Portland, Oregon. Pollen allergies vary by time of year: trees, then grasses, then weeds are the culprits throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall. The medical conditions they can cause include allergic rhinitis (nose symptoms), allergic conjunctivitis (eyes), sinusitis, asthma (lungs) and even atopic dermatitis (eczema). Food allergies can contribute to the overall problem by adding to the allergy “load” on the immune system. I ask most patients to do trial elimination of milk products to see if it makes a difference for them. Some people need to avoid other foods as well, but milk products are the most consistent offender in the diet. Reducing exposure can make a significant difference as well. Dust mites are in high concentrations in mattresses, pillows and bedding. I recommend that people with dust allergies purchase dust mite proof covers for their mattress and pillow. The sheets and blankets must then be washed in hot water every 10 to 14 days. Alternatives to washing blankets in hot water are using a mite killing laundry wash with cold water or buying a mite-proof comforter cover. In addition, the bedroom must be kept free of dust collecting items (books, stuffed animals, knick-knacks, etc). Animals should be kept out of the bedroom. Fans should be avoided, but an air purifier may help. Carpets can be treated for dust mites and surfaces damp-mopped. Try to avoid upholstered furniture where possible. If you focus on clearing the bedroom of dust mites, you will at least have eight hours a day of lowered exposure. You should be in there sleeping for eight hours a day, by the way, for optimal immune regeneration time. OK, the bedroom is clean, but you still have problems.
The next step is to try a Neti pot to wash out the nasal passages. These wash the allergens off the mucous membranes inside the nose and clean out excess mucous and bacteria. It is an ancient Yogic practice that can reduce symptoms and help prevent sinus infections. Most Neti pots come with directions for use. They use a saline solution (salt and water in precise amounts) to pour in one nostril and out through the other with your head bent over the sink. It may seem strange at first, but most people with allergies find some relief. Orally, vitamin C and bioflavonoids can be helpful as they have a natural antihistamine effect. The bioflavonoids quercetin and bromelain seem to work the best. Last of all, there is an herb called stinging nettles which can be quite effective for many people, particularly for hayfever (pollen allergies). I prefer the fresh, freeze dried version of the nettles leaf for best effect.
Some good resources for healthy and environmentally friendly products for the home can be found through the ReDirect Guide.
The best way to optimal wellness is to find a licensed naturopathic physician to work with, then you will also have access to professional quality herbal and nutritional supplements that can be the most effective.