"Dr. K, I'm doing great... except that I want to scratch my eyes out, my nose keeps running and I'm going to start charging that frog in my throat rent!" lamented one of my patients this week.
And she isn't alone.
Seasonal allergies affect 1 in 25 Canadians, according to the Canadian Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Foundation. Allergic rhinitis, or "hay fever", or these damn allergies can present as watery itchy eyes, runny nose with clear mucous, sinus congestion and pressure, itchy tongue and palate, a dry scratchy throat, feeling fatigued, poor concentration. This means lower productivity at work, an increased risk of asthma and an expensive trip to the pharmacy or health food store trying to find relief.
Windsor and Toronto are some of the worse cities in Canada to live in with respect to pollution and ragweed. Here in Stratford, we are surrounded by a lot of farmland and trees, which also translates to pesticides and tree pollen. Despite being convenient for travel, this Highway 401 corridor that I and my patients call home can cause some decided health issues from early spring until late fall.
So what's an allergy sufferer to do?
1. Catch the culprit
Most seasonal type allergies are IgE-mediated immune reactions. A simple skin or blood test can be ordered by your family doctor or Naturopathic Doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms. Common culprits are tree pollens, ragweed, moulds, and dust mites. These can be made worse by certain foods, particularly food sensitivities.
2. Support your immune system
Eat a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables for lots of Vitamin C, good quality probiotics recommended by your health care provider, fermented foods like kombucha, sauerkraut or kefir, and healthy fats. Minimize sugars, processed foods and alcohol as they will suppress your immune function and can contribute to mucous production.
3. Create a customized plan
Your family doctor or allergist might also recommend avoiding the allergen if possible, antihistamines or decongestants. Please be aware that decongestant nasal sprays often cause rebound congestion once you discontinue their use, so these should only be used short-term.
In my practice, I recommend an individualized supplement program including homeopathics, and nutraceuticals, dietary support and at-home care. I like to recommend using a neti pot filled with a warm sterile saline solution to rinse out the sinuses twice daily during allergy season. It really works!
I also recommend Allergy Booster "shots" preventatively for patients that predictably experience symptoms at this time of year. A simple, low-cost oral solution that can help to improve our immune function and reduce the severity, this is one of my favorite ways to stay on top of allergies. Many of my patients have experienced a dramatic improvement in their allergy symptoms after only a few doses and no longer need to rely on allergy medication.
If you or your loved ones are suffering from seasonal allergies, you can book a free 15 minute health strategy session to learn more about treating your allergies.. naturally.
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Dr. Keila Roesner is a Naturopathic Doctor. When not treating patients she is also an enthusiastic barefoot-strolling, music-loving, yoga-doing kitchen wiz - who also happens to be a wrestling fan.