I told my honey my nose was runny. She said, "It's snot funny, cause it's snot." It's the beginning of Spring and nearing the end of March. We are just in time for the 2018 Spring allergy season to visit and peak sometime around May here in Northwest Indiana.
If you are one of the lucky ones, you are able to step outside your door on a nice spring day, breath in the fresh spring air, enjoy the budding trees, and watch the dwarf irises bloom. Ahhh, doesn't that sound nice? This is not the case for those whose allergies flare at the first faint dusting of tree pollen around this time. The fresh spring air brings them itchy eyes, throats, and constant sinus drainage. Some have seasonal allergies (allergic rhinitis) so intense, they clutch a bottle of Visine allergy eye drops in one hand and carry a box of
kleenex in the other.
What's so bad about allergic rhinitis? Other than making a person feel like crap every day they step out into the world, uncontrolled allergies can lead to sinus infections, upper respiratory infections, headaches, loss of sleep, too much sleep, loss of time at work, and even depression.
What is allergic rhinitis? Without going into a full blown patho-physiology course, allergic rhinitis is a hypersensitive inflammatory response to an allergen in the nasal passage. The four common symptoms are: 1. Rinorrhea (rhymes with diarrhea) is a watery running nose. This is a fitting description because it seems like nose diarrhea for some. 2. Nasal obstruction is caused from swollen nasal turbinates (the structures in our nose that help filter the air we breath in. Turbinates also act as warmers and humidifiers). The picture on the right is an example of an obstructed turbinate. Yes, the lovely allergic response 3. Nasal itching. This pretty much describes itself. The endless itchy tickle that does not go away not matter what you scratch your nose with. I do not recommend stretched out paperclips. 4. Sneezing. I quote, "Do you ask me whence comes the custom of blessing those who sneeze? We produce three sorts of wind; that which comes from below is too foul; that which comes through the mouth implies some reproach of gluttony; the third is sneezing, and, because it comes from the head and is blameless, we give it this honourable greeting. Do not laugh at this conceit; it is, they say, Aristotle’s." - Montaigne (a French Renaissance philosopher.) For some cultures, sneezing is a good omen, others believe we sneeze with our eyes closed so our eyeballs do not pop out of our heads. In 13th Century Europe, the Pope decreed a blessing on those who sneeze. He felt this would protect his people from the Black Death! Really though, sneezing is just a reflex triggered by that tickly little allergen or foreign particle hanging out in the nose. Spring allergens, for some, may be tree pollen or grass pollen, while other may be more sensitive to weed and ragweed. There are also those who are sensitive to all the seasonal allergens.
What can a person with allergic rhinitis do to relieve some of their symptoms before they
become totally out of control? There are several different over-the-counter medications to try. Antihistamines (Zyrtec, Claritin, Clarinex) work well for many people but be sure not to take the sedating antihistamines during the day, such as Benadryl or Vistaril. Your boss may get upset if you are found sleeping at your desk. There are also some great over-the-counter nasal decongestants (Flonase, Afrin, Neo-Synephrine, Nasacort). These are sprayed right into the nostrils and work fairly quickly.
Though most pharmaceuticals have been proven to be superior over natural remedies, you may still want to try some natural home remedies to relieve sinus congestion from allergies. Try using a netie-pot with a saline solution to rinse out the nasal passages. You may also try butterbur (a shrub that can be found growing in North America, Europe, and Asia). Butterbur has been around for ages and was used, still used, to treat hay fever and migraines. The catch, if you are sensitive to ragweed, marigolds, daisies, and chyrsanthemums, you may not want to take butterbur (those seasonal allergies, ugh). Nettle tea has also been beneficial for seasonal allergy relief for some people. Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease inflammation and may also benefit those who suffer from allergy symptoms as well! Plus that, omega-3 fatty acids are great for overall health. Other ways to avoid a nasty flare up of allergic rhinitis is to keep your windows closed and your air conditioner running during the warm months. If all else fails and your symptoms are persistent or become worse, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss other prescription strength medications used to treat severe seasonal allergies including finding extended relief with an allergy shot.
Seasonal allergies are snot fun for anyone, so be sure to keep up with your healthy diet, avoid allergy triggers, and do not let your seasonal allergies take control of your life. Below are several links for some good ole fashion education on allergic rhinitis. In fact, if you would like to know how much kleenex you need to carry throughout the week, you can visit https://www.pollen.com/map for updates on how high the pollen count is for the day. I can tell you right now, for the next week, the pollen count will creep up through Wednesday and we are in the yellow (medium) range for pollen count at this time.
Have a happy Spring 2018 and Gesundheit!