Doc Eifrig: Here are the best ways to fight seasonal allergies this summer
From Dr. David Eifrig, MD, MBA, Editor, Retirement Millionaire:
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’re not alone… More than 30% of the U.S. population has seasonal allergies. But you can do a few things to relieve your symptoms…
Since I live in the city, I keep an air filter in my bedroom, which has helped with seasonal allergies as well as general stuffiness in the mornings. I clean the filter weekly.
One thing to remember when you have allergies is to be careful when blowing your nose. Researchers at the University of Virginia studied the flow of snot and mucous in sick people. They found that blowing your nose with both nostrils clogged creates large pressures in your sinuses. This just pushes the mucous and “bugs” back up into your sinuses and can cause more of an infection.
It’s the same story with allergies. Blowing lightly with one nostril at a time restricts airflow less and is the best way to avoid this.
Another trick is to try a Neti pot. The Neti pot is an old Hindu device used to wash the sinuses. (Neti means “nasal” in Sanskrit.) You can purchase plastic ones with balanced salt solutions (in packets you mix with water at home) at your local drug stores for about $10. By using gravity and the solution, you can gently rinse your sinuses.
When I get tickles in my nose or post-nasal drip and sneezing, I know it’s time to do a rinse once or twice a day… It feels funny at first… But if you’re stuffy from pollen, this is a great way to clean out the areas in your nose that trap the pollens.
Be careful… Overuse of the Neti pot (either more than twice a day or for more than a couple weeks) can worsen things, leading to bacterial sinus infections. Also, make sure to follow the instructions…
If you don’t use sterilized or distilled water, brain-eating organisms in the water can enter the brain through your sinuses. In late 2011, two deaths in Louisiana were blamed on the improper use of a Neti pot.
For itchy eyes, purchase eye drops that “stabilize the mast cells” in your mucous membranes. Mast cells maintain chemicals used to protect the body from infections and parasites. When they are stimulated, they release these chemicals, which increase blood flow and direct immune-modulating cells to migrate to that area. Think of them as the fire alarm in a building.
Once released, you start itching, which leads to rubbing, which serves to spread even more of the cells and chemicals around to fight whatever it is that’s bothering the body. If you can prevent the alarm from going off, you can avoid the redness and itching. After all, you know you’re not suffering from an infection or parasites, so why not block it for a couple of weeks and feel better?
The drugs require a prescription, so you’ll have to ask your physician to prescribe them. Ask for Patanol or Zatidor, or the generic versions, alocril and crolom. If used at the first sign of itchy eyes, they can help cut your allergy symptoms in half. I use them for about 3-4 weeks to get me through the worst of the season.
Foods That Can Control Allergies Without Drugs
However, if you want to avoid drugs… some alternatives to medicine have been shown to ease symptoms.
To start, here are some “hygiene” steps you can take to reduce symptoms…
- Close windows and doors during higher pollen times.
- Shower and change clothes after being outside.
- Avoid going outside on dry, windy days when the pollen is blowing around or on days when the pollen counts are high.
- Don’t exercise in the morning when counts are usually highest.
- Use a HEPA air filter in your bedroom. I keep one in my bedroom and clean the filter once a week.
Also, you should avoid some foods that can exacerbate symptoms…
Some people with seasonal allergies also have “oral allergy syndrome” – also called “food-pollen allergy” syndrome. This occurs when your immune system attacks proteins in certain foods like it would pollen. The food you react to can depend on the type of allergy you have.
People with weed allergies can react to honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, zucchini, and sunflower seeds.
Tree allergies are often associated with kiwi, apples, pears, peaches, plums, celery, cherries, carrots, hazelnut, almonds, and parsley.
If you have grass allergies, you might have a reaction to peaches, celery, tomatoes, melons, or oranges.
Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig Jr., MD, MBA
P.S. This essay is an excerpt from my new Big Book of Retirement Secrets. In it, you can find hundreds of “life hacks” like the ones I’ve mentioned above… things like how to get paid to watch TV and eat potato chips… how to get free silver from the U.S. banking system… and even how to get free health care and prescriptions. You can get all the details right here.