Allergies are your body’s immune system response to external substances, typically these substances or allergens do not cause any physical harm to your body. The immune system’s primary job is to fight off invaders like bacteria or viruses as well as toxins and chemicals.
The immune system identifies and attacks anything that could harm you, but sometimes it can be overactive and attack things that aren’t harmful. Pollen, dust and animal fur are some common allergens that enter through the nose or mouth while breathing. Food allergies like nuts, gluten or eggs trigger an allergic reaction when eaten or digested. On their own, these substances and foods pose no real threat to the body.
But due to certain compounds or chemicals in them, allergens make your immune system react strongly. This may cause a slew of symptoms like swelling, rashes, puffy or watery eyes, sniffling, sneezing, difficulty breathing and many more.
Most allergic reactions are treated with prevention (avoiding things and foods which trigger your episodes) and antihistamine medication. Some people may also require injections to treat severe allergic reactions. Apart from that, there are some natural remedies you can try out after discussing them with your doctor. Note that none of these remedies is a substitute for your medication and you should not try anything new without first speaking to your doctor.
Avoiding your triggers is the number one factor in managing allergies. Sometimes avoidance is not possible, for example, you may need medication that contains something which causes your allergies. In other cases, people may be allergic to common household items like shampoos or creams. Finding allergen-free alternatives to these products will not be very hard, many companies are already moving towards hypoallergenic (less likely to cause allergies) ingredients. You can look up the ingredients list for nearly all commonly sold products to figure out if there is anything you might be allergic to. For more serious situations such as medication, you can speak to your doctor and figure out different medications that you aren’t allergic to.
While you may not be able to control much outside your home, within your residence you can certainly ease things for yourself. One of the top suggestions for people with breathing-related allergies is the use of air filters, preferably high quality HEPA filters. This can reduce the floating airborne particles entering your home (and thus your body) and prevent a large number of allergic reactions.
Similarly, air conditioners or dehumidifiers can also help to reduce the moisture content which will prevent the growth of mould and fungus, further reducing the risk of allergies. You should consider, however, that improper cleaning of your air conditioner filters can also trigger allergies. If the air in your house is not free from allergens, your air conditioner may end up circulating that and trigger a sneezing fit. Additionally, both high and low humidity levels can trigger inflammation and sneezing.
One final note on environment control, many people use essential oils (either through direct application or air diffusion) as a means to prevent inflammation.
- Peppermint essential oil has been seen to reduce inflammation in people with asthma and allergic rhinitis
- Eucalyptus oil has been suggested as a cleaning agent for laundry, especially during seasonal allergy
- Frankincense oil was also found to have some protection against allergic rhinitis, it can be diffused in the air, inhaled or applied behind the ears after dilution
Again, simply avoiding foods that trigger reactions is the main way to manage allergies. However, you can also support your body by trying a variety of foods that may help to reduce your immune system's overreaction. Please note, there is only limited data on most of these remedies, so do not expect drastic results and do not substitute your medication for any of them:
- Butterbur is a marsh plant with large leaves that has been used medicinally for a long time, it was found that in tablet form it can reduce the level of histamines in your body. It may be as effective as some other oral anti-allergy medications and it is thought to be most useful against allergies that are caused in the nasal passage.
- Bromelain is a natural substance found in papaya and pineapples, however, the fruit themselves do not provide sufficient amounts on their own. In tablet form, bromelain has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce swelling and congestion.
- Including more probiotics into your diet (through supplements or foods) may also have some effect in reducing symptoms, mainly with allergic rhinitis.
- Other dietary options include spirulina (algae-based supplement), quercetin, vitamin C and even honey. More data is needed on all of these, but initial studies have found that some of them may have an impact on reducing allergic reactions.
Many supplements, essential oils and other solutions may have positive effects for some people but the quality of these products is not monitored. You may end up causing yourself more damage by using harmful or adulterated products, so always use caution. Keep your doctor in the loop with any new methods you’re trying out. Finally, these treatments cannot be used to treat severe reactions at all. When you have difficulty breathing, chest tightness, dizziness, severe rashes etc, only use the medication or creams prescribed by your doctor. In many instances, you may need to visit the nearest emergency room for further treatment. If these tips and remedies work for you, be sure to share this list with your friends who also have allergies.