The Best Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergies affect more than 60 million people each year, but when you’re in the thick of the worst allergy symptoms—like itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and post-nasal drip—you might feel alone in your suffering. But allergies, which can happen as early as February and continue late into the fall, don’t have to get the best of you this year. There are easy steps you can take to bolster your immune system and relieve those allergy symptoms that start to spring up, along with all of the other flowers that tell us the cold, dreary winter is finally behind us. Learn more about the most common allergens, associated symptoms, and how to fight back (and win) this year.
What Are Allergies?
Seasonal allergies, often referred to as hay fever, are symptoms that occur from exposure to types of spores or pollen that are released into the air by certain trees, plants, and fungi. Your body then thinks these materials are invasive pathogens and creates histamines or chemicals your immune system makes to protect you. This is great news for parasites or pathogens with bad intentions—not so great for otherwise harmless substances like pollen.
Are You Making Your Allergies Worse?
While we have no control over the amount of pollen and ragweed in the atmosphere, there are things we may do that can actually worsen our allergies. Avoid the following to prevent exacerbating your allergy symptoms:
- Using cheap air filters. Studies show that quality air filtration can reduce airborne allergens and potentially relieve allergies. Opt for HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters.
- Showering only in the morning. Not showering or bathing before bed can cause residual pollen on your body, hair, and clothing going to bed with you, which can cause flare-ups later.
- Opening windows in your home. It can be tempting to let the fresh air in on crisp spring days, and while fresh air is certainly one way to boost your immune system, on high-pollen days, it can actually make your allergy symptoms worse. You may be letting in more than fresh air. Check the pollen count in your area before opening windows.
- Letting pets sleep in the bed with you. Pets are like family members, but letting them sleep in your bed could worsen your allergy symptoms. Just as pollen accumulates on your person and clothing, the same happens for any pets that have been outdoors for any length of time.
- Not dusting enough. Dust piles up quickly and can include a concoction of assorted allergens such as pet dander, mold, and dust mites that could wreak havoc on your allergy symptoms. Prioritizing spring cleaning and dusting your home thoroughly can help you to enjoy spring rather than white-knuckle your way through it.
Natural Remedies for Relieving Allergy Symptoms
- Stay hydrated. When it is dehydrated, your body produces more histamines (the chemicals that cause your allergy symptoms), so drinking enough water—at least one-third of your body weight in ounces—each day is key. But staying hydrated doesn’t only mean drinking enough water—choosing foods with higher water content, like berries, cucumbers, soups, broths, and stews, can also help to boost your fluid intake.
- Eat Vitamin-C-rich foods. Staving off allergies means making sure your immune system is in tip-top shape. By eating antioxidant-rich foods high in Vitamin C, you’ll check another box on the list for staying healthy. This can be as easy as adding fresh-squeezed lemon juice or a splash of apple cider vinegar to your morning glass of water or some citrus fruits to your meals as a delicious side. Vitamin-C-rich fruits like cantaloupe are also high in fiber content, which can help to improve digestive issues and make you feel fuller longer.
- Quercetin. Found in various fruits and vegetables, quercetin is an anti-inflammatory and bioflavonoid, or a type of antioxidant that gives plants their pigmentation, that regulates histamine production and release. In clinical trials, quercetin has been shown to reduce airway irritation with allergies. Building sufficient doses of quercetin does take time, so start implementing quercetin-rich foods into your diet—especially apples, honey, raspberries, onions, red grapes, cherries, citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables—or taking a quercetin supplement for weeks or even months ahead of allergy season for best results.
- Sinus rinses. A saline solution sinus wash can serve as a nasal irrigation system to quickly and effectively relieve nasal congestion and flush out mucus and allergens.
These are convenient and inexpensive and can be purchased as kits or ready-to-use. Using bottled water for at-home sinus rinses is recommended to reduce your risk of infection.