Seasonal Sneezing? Top 10 (Oklahoma) Allergy Remedies
When the wind comes sweeping down the plain, us born-and-bred Okies know we’re in for a seasonal treat of the sneezes… with itchy eyes, scratchy throats, & runny noses. For new comers to the state, however, these daily (sometimes hourly!) changes in spring weather might throw them for a loop. For Sooners, Cowboys, and everyone in between, here’s our list of top 10 allergy remedies.
1. Bare the Feet & Batten Down the Hatches
This is easier said than done, especially after a long cold winter of being cooped up indoors playing Fortnight. I’m a big advocate for getting outdoors, so this remedy is my least favorite, but windy days are the worst for stirring up the sneeze-inducing pollen. In addition to keeping windows closed at home and in your car, it also helps to take your shoes off before tracking pollen all over the living room. Going barefoot in your own home can be upgraded by treating yourself to a pedicure in a fun summer color. 😉 You can find the pollen count in your area before shutting the windows on a beautiful day.
2. Spice It up
Teas, foods, and spices with known anti-inflammatory effects may help in alleviating allergy symptoms. Besides warding off the occasional vampire, garlic contains a natural compound that fights off harmful bacteria, including the rhinovirus (aka the common cold). Eating two garlic cloves a week will help you gain the allergy-fighting benefits. Your husband might not kiss you anymore, but you won’t be sneezing! Ginger has also been shown to reduce sneezing and congestion.
3. A Spoonful of Fresh Honey
Honey is invaluable in fighting off seasonal allergies. Fresh honey has shown not only to help improve allergy symptoms, but to also decrease allergies you may already have. Here’s the trick, though: the honey needs to be local. That’s because honey produced by the bees down the street contain region-specific compounds that help your body fight off your local allergies. Try adding honey to your morning coffee or drizzling it on buttered toast.
4. Stop Cleaning
Let the guilt go! Sit back, crack open a can of flavored sparkling water, binge watch The Handmaid’s Tale, and let those dust bunnies reproduce! Studies have shown that children exposed to a too-clean home were more vulnerable to allergies and asthma later in life. This supports the “hygiene hypothesis” – children’s bodies might not develop the correct responses to allergens. Now, I’m not saying it’s ok to let mold grow on the wet laundry, but allergy symptoms could subside if you put down the dust rag.
If your gut is off balance, chances are that the rest of your body is subtly suffering. Probiotics are the good bacteria that help the digestion process, improve energy levels, and fight off allergy invaders. The most common way to get your probiotics is at breakfast – stir some fruit and nuts into fresh Greek yogurt and your gut will be happy. Not a breakfast person? There’re several good probiotic supplements out there.
6. Spring Clean Your Nose
Regardless of what Marie Kondo might say, spring cleaning isn’t just for your closets. This remedy works by preventing much of the offending allergens from entering your airways. There’re three main paths to washing those nostrils:
Neti Pot: This option definitely has a learning curve. Start by pouring warm distilled water in one nostril as you tilt your head. Watch as that same water comes out the other nostril (whoa!), bringing with it the goop and guck that’s been stuffed up inside your nose.
Saline Spray: If you’re a wuss when it comes to the Neti Pot, then saline spray could be the way to sparkling nostrils. The saline protects the nasal passages from foreign compounds and can help you sneeze less. Even the kids use it a few times a week when they feel snuffy noses coming on.
Steam: One final option for cleaning out the nose is steam. Steam is a natural way to break up hard deposits and can even help calm your senses, reducing overall stress. You could lock yourself in the bathroom with the shower going to achieve. Or, you could do like your grandmother did, and simply inhale the steam over a covered bowl. Upgrade the effect by adding a few drops of essential oils. Now comes the fun part! -- inhale slow, deep breaths in through your nose, allowing the steam to work its magic in your nasal passages.
No, not wine! Apple cider vinegar, peppermint, and nettle leaf tea all have healing effects on seasonal allergies. Apple cider vinegar has a wide range of healthy purposes, including gut health (remember probiotics from #5) and peppermint has been used for hundreds of years to unclog stuffy noses. Nettle leaf is a strong, natural anti-histamine that won’t make you drowsy. Add some apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water or make yourself a nice cup of peppermint or nettle leaf tea before bed. When you’re feeling better, you can get back to the wine.
Never heard of this? Quercetin, a natural bioflavonoid found in citrus foods and broccoli, helps reduce inflammation and stabilize cells to keep them from releasing histamine. It’s best used as a long-term remedy and many people start taking it 4-6 weeks before allergy season (In Oklahoma, that means you could have started taking this at Christmas!) As with any supplement, check with your doctor before using, especially if you are pregnant, have a liver problem, or are on contraceptives.
This will only be a problem if you’ve got a 12-year old son who is too “busy” to exhibit proper hygiene. Bathing washes away the dirt, dander, dust, and pollen that has been silently gathering on your skin and in your hair all day long. It may be obvious to you, but not to the pre-teen --- if you’re constantly breathing in the allergy triggers, you’re going to end up with frequent congestion and itchy eyes.
10. Take Drugs
This might be the first line of defense for many of us. There’re so many products on the shelves, be sure to talk to your pharmacist about choosing the right over-the-counter product for your ailment. As a rule, antihistamines help with sneezing, decongestants help with stuffy nose, and eye drops help with dry itchy eyes.
Best of luck to you this season. May the Oklahoma weather fairies have mercy on you!