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now that it's warm.....

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

now that it's warm.....

I love that it is finally getting warm here in New England. The flowers are starting to bloom, trees are blossoming...and now my runs outside require way less clothing, I am coughing, sneezing, and feeling a bit dazed. All due to the dreaded allergy season that is once again upon us. Awesome!

So, allergists always say that the best way to prevent allergy attacks is to avoid the, how, is that possible when we choose to not live like bubble boy?  Well there are various different options, some modern medicine options, and some that are homeopathic/alternative medicine.  I don't happen to think that one os better than the other, with seasonal allergies, whichever alleviates your symptoms and makes you feel better is OK with me!!

So, to start, some people feel rather cranky and irritated but don't realize that they are actually suffering from allergies.  The symptoms can include itchy, watery eyes along with a runny nose, itchy throat, and watery eyes BUT people can also get (very mild)headaches, along with ear popping or feeling fluids in their ears, and sometimes your head just feels..."fuzzy" (as my mother puts it). Some of the symptoms are so mild that people just feel rather BLAH and don't realize that they are suffering from allergies, so they are cranky, when they should be enjoying this beautiful spring season!! The American Academy of Allergy and Immunology report that an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from allergies!  That is astounding!!

What can we do to prevent these issues and live outside the bubble??  Well, the FDA has made it sooo much easier to treat our symptoms with over-the-counter (OTC) meds:
such as Zyrtec and Claritin (for non-drowsy)
 Benadryl (can cause drowsiness)
 Ocu-hist are eye drops 
If you prefer to see your HCP and get a script:
 Allegra, Clarinex, or Xyzal (non-drowsy)
Alestin is a nasal spray
Emadine is an eye drop
Now, if you are congested along with the regular allergy symptoms, for OTC:
 Zyrtec D (non drowsy)
Afrin (nasal spray) **I highly recommend NOT EVER using this product- it can cause more issues than it 'corrects' and can become habit forming*
Visine (eye drops)
Allegra D or Claritin D

There is also the option of allergy shots, where your HCP will administer a series of injections, with small amounts of the allergen that affects you, and your body slowly builds up an immunity to it.  The problem?  Not 100% effective and quite expensive (most insurance plans will not cover for seasonal allergies....some will cover for anaphylactic food/drug allergies, but if it is something you are interested in, it is worth looking in to!!)

So, what are the natural treatments I was referring to?  There is something that has shown great improvement in allergy reduction in clinical trials which is a European herb called butterbur (Petasites hybridus); there were trials done by the British Journal of Medicine and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (which are pretty big in the medical world, FYI) and they showed that patients had decreased hay fever and grass allergies (respectively) without the drowsiness that can occur.  Also, freeze dried nettles and goldenseal have been reported by users to decrease seasonal allergies.  And, the ever-growing-in-popularity nettie pot can help with sinus allergies, by clearing the nasal passages (I have no  personal experience, but have patients and friends that swear by it...I'm thinking of giving it a go, and I will let you all know how it works out!!)  Some HCPs tout the importance of grape seed in combating allergens and Querciten (which is found in red, YAY to all of us red vino drinkers out there!!) which can help to regulate the release of histamines, which cause allergic reactions.  Also, eating spicy foods can thin mucous secretions and help your body clear the allergens faster, so bring on the cayenne, garlic, ginger, jalapenos!!

Also, most allergists recommend an air filtration system at home or at work (if possible) to reduce the rate at which you are exposed to the, when you can control it, do it!!  Also, acupuncture is a great option (also, a lot of insurances are now covering acupuncture- so check it out, and it is worth a try); the American Journal of Chinese Medicine did a small study with 26 patients that had hay fever, and all 26 patients reported a significant decrease in their hay fever symptoms after undergoing just two acupuncture treatments, a follow up study showed that out of 72 patients over 50% had a reduction.

So, however you choose to wage your battle with allergies, remember to start your treatment BEFORE you start getting symptoms (if this happens to you yearly) because it is easier to prevent they symptoms from starting than to treat them once they occur!  Also, be very careful when taking natural supplements and talk to your HCP if you are combining them with any sort of medication, OTC or prescription.  Good luck, and let me know what works best for you, if there is something that I didn't list...I am sure that we will all find it helpful!

Yours in Good Health!



At April 21, 2010 at 1:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Bridgid. I am one of the lucky few who do not have allergies, but my little girl does. It helps for me to start my research while she is still young.

At April 22, 2010 at 6:54 AM , Blogger Nurse Bridgid said...

Thanks Elizabeth!! Always glad to help out...and I will be talking more about food allergies- something I know a LOT about, personally!! :)


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