There are several conventional and alternative treatments for allergies, but I've found that my patients also benefit from lifestyle changes which may significantly reduce the impact of their allergy triggers. It cannot be stressed enough that you consult with your physician before implementing any of the following recommendations so as to ensure there is no conflict with your current treatment plan.
- Wash off pollen from hands and other exposed areas in peak allergy seasons.
- Keep windows and doors closed during high pollen count times and stay inside on the driest, windiest days to minimize exposure to seasonal allergens.
- Use high-particulate air (HEPA) filters inside to reduce most airborne contaminants, especially in bedroom locations.
- In humid areas, use a dehumidifier to limit mold development.
- Buy allergy-proof bedding, including mattress and pillow case covers, to reduce allergy symptoms, and regularly wash sheets, blankets and pillow cases in hot water.
- Stuffed animals and real animals alike can contribute to allergic rhinitis, so wash them frequently.
- Consider removing carpeting in bedrooms or use area rugs which can be cleaned regularly. Vacuum all carpets and floor surfaces weekly with a HEPA-filter equipped appliance.
- Limit lawn mowing and other gardening activities at peak allergy times; avoid use of chemical pesticides and outdoor products.
- Use environmentally and health-safe household cleaners.
- Eat healthy, whole organic foods with plenty of anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
- Avoid use of herbal products and foods that cross react with seasonal allergens; for some people this may include Echinacea species and certain fruits and vegetables (this is known as the "oral allergy syndrome").
- To prevent allergic disease in babies, consider perinatal avoidance of known food allergens, especially if there's a family history of atopic disease; breastfeeding is known to be protective as well.
- Try a saline rinse device called a "neti pot" to clear pollen from the nasal cavities. Even children as young as 2 or 3 years old can be taught how to use one.
- Look into using specific natural health product supplements, like probiotics and essential fatty acids, which may lower your risk of developing allergies.
- Think about taking up a stress-coping technique, like yoga or meditation. I recommend mindfulness!