<< Back

Mind Body and Soul: Spring Fever | RX for Seasonal Allergies

Fresh flowers, busy bees, green grass and weather that just makes you want to play in the park all signify the renewal and rejuvenation of spring time. But for more than 35 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, this time of year also ushers in some unwelcome guests; Sneezy, Stuffy, Wheezy, Dopey, Watery, Runny and Itchy.

Aside from painfully obvious physical symptoms, allergies are often responsible for sleepless nights, an inability to focus at work, trouble socializing and a general feeling of ill health. While there is no catch-all, miracle cure, there are a number of simple lifestyle changes and alternative solutions that’ll help you feel your best the whole year through.


By Lisha Ross 

The Low Down

An allergic reaction is what occurs when your immune system over-reacts to common substances that you inhale, ingest or come into physical contact with. After repeated exposure to substances including pollen, pet dander, mold and dust mites, your body produces histamines that cause a cascade of symptoms to occur.  

Because there are so many allergens circulating at any given time of year, Dr. Hugh Windom of the University of South Florida recommends that allergy sufferers get tested by an allergist or immunologist to pinpoint specific problems. Once you know just what you’re allergic to, fighting the battle against the elements will be that much easier.   

An Ounce of Prevention

Particularly with seasonal allergies, your first instinct might be to lock yourself indoors, but we often forget just how many allergens are lurking inside our homes, cars and offices. Early preparation and continued maintenance are key factors for reducing allergens in your living spaces.   

Linens and Things

Towels, sheets, bath mats, linens and curtains should be washed frequently in hot water to kill dust mites and remove pollen. Shower curtain liners should be bleached once per month, or replaced entirely to eradicate mold.  Consider purchasing pillow, box spring and mattress enclosures that are impenetrable to allergens, as well as other allergy friendly bedding and linens. Ask your allergist, or visit Allergy One (www.allergyone.com) or Allergy Control Products (www.allergycontrol.com) for product lines.  

Carpeting presents a serious issue for allergy sufferers as it is a virtual breeding ground for millions of allergens. Wood flooring or carpeting with very tight knit fibers are optimal for chronic allergy sufferers, but if changing your floor coverings isn’t an option be sure to vacuum at least once per week with a vacuum outfitted with a HEPA filtration system. Product ratings are available at Allergybuyersclub.com. Other products purported to kill allergens in carpeting include Allersearch X-mite Fabric and Carpet Powder and Allersearch ADS Fabric and Carpet Spray. They claim to deactivate most allergens associated with dust mites, cat dander, mold, mildew and plants, but must be re-applied periodically.

In the Air

Air purifiers are your best defense in removing allergens from the air. Choose models equipped with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration, a system that removes 99.97% of airborne allergens.  You’ll also want to make sure the system is the correct size for the square footage of the room it will be used in.

Humidity in your home is also a factor and should ideally stay between 20%-40%. Levels below 20% may cause the body to generating excessive mucus in your nasal passages, leading to congestion and possible sinus infections. Humidity over 40%, a condition likely to occur in your bathroom, encourages mold and dust mites to thrive. Keep the air dry by running an exhaust fan during and after showering and on humid days. Consider purchasing a small, battery operated hygrometer ($25), a device that measures humidity, to keep the moisture levels in check. Then, with the use of a humidifier/dehumidifier, you can adjust moisture levels to suit your needs.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America also suggests that you keep the air conditioner set to re-circulate air, replace filters frequently and keep the windows closed during high pollen season.

Away From Home

In your car as in your home, set the air conditioner to re-circulate. Turn the A/C or heater on before you get in and always keep the windows up.  

Products that might help at work or on the go include:

  • The Portable Car Air Purifier ($119.95) plugs into your car cigarette lighter and straps to the back of the headrest. Roomaid Portable HEPA Air Purifiers ($159.95) are light-weight, have a car adaptor, and are perfect for use on a desktop at work. Check out Allergybuyersclubshopping.com for info.
  • Aller-RX ($7.95), a carpet and upholstery spray that temporarily de-natures allergens, comes in convenient and refillable 4 oz. spray bottles, perfect for your glove box or desk drawer. Visit Allerrx.com to order.
  • The Dust Grabber Magnetic Dust Cloth ($3.99) picks up dust and fine particles without stirring them into the air. Use to dust your dashboard, desk and shelves at work. Available at allergyone.com.
  • Dirt Tamer Handheld Vacuum Cleaners ($59.95+) are wet/dry, cordless, rechargeable HEPA vacuums that can be used in the car or in the area around your desk at work. Find them at Greenandmore.com.       

Other Attractions

Remember that clothing and hair are magnets for allergens circulating outdoors. During high pollen season, remove your shoes at the door so as not to track pollen inside. For those who have severe pollen allergies, it is recommended that you change your clothes, and immediately wash your hair upon arriving home. This will help to prevent the pollen on your body from rubbing off onto your couch, pillows and linens.

Tip: Pollen count is highest between 10am and 4pm. Stay indoors during that time if possible, particularly on windy days. 

Mother Nature’s Medicine Cabinet 

Improving your living environment may not be the only remedy for keeping allergy symptoms at bay. Mary Hardy, MD, director of integrative medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles says, “Using nature-based products can be a very useful way to handle mild allergies and a useful adjunct for more significant allergies….” From herbal supplements to local honey, when used properly, nature’s gifts can be a great way to alleviate allergy discomfort.   

Honey Do 

Many experts agree that foods that help manage inflammation and support the immune system can help alleviate allergic reactions. One such food is local raw honey. Similar to an allergy shot, eating local honey produced within ten miles of your home will gradually expose your body to the same types of pollen that induce allergic reactions when inhaled, purportedly boosting your own immune defense. Often found at local farmer’s markets, visit www.localharvest.org for a market near you.

Food for Thought 

Eliminating empty calories from your diet, such as those found in fast food, and consuming foods rich in vitamins and healthy calories is also thought to help in alleviating allergy symptoms. Apples, leafy vegetables, bananas, tofu, legumes and walnuts are foods purported to tame inflammation. Additional anti-allergy foods include broccoli, turnips, kale, cabbage and colorful red berries such as raspberries, blackberries and cranberries which contain quercetin, a powerful flavanoid thought to ease symptoms.


Experts say spicy hot foods containing cayenne pepper, hot ginger and fenugreek seeds can thin mucus secretions, ultimately clearing nasal passages. Onions and garlic are also thought to be helpful.  

A Note on Natural Alternatives

Non-traditional treatments, including acupuncture, diet and exercise, are garnering recognition for having affective results for treating allergies. However, while supplements such as Butterbur, goldenseal, fish oil and perilla oil are thought to be helpful in quelling allergy symptoms, non-traditional supplements should be used with as much caution as any other treatment. Natural doesn’t always mean better or safer, and one should always consult a physician before mixing alternative treatments with traditional drugs.

Seasonal allergies don’t have to put a damper on your spring time activities. With a few simple changes, you too can enjoy the beauty this season has to offer.





Leave a comment