A few years after I moved to Oregon, I started experiencing a strange complex of symptoms that I’d never known before: fatigue, foggy headedness, itchy eyes, sneezing and runny nose in the middle of summer. Being from Michigan, I’d experienced my fair share of colds and these symptoms reminded me of that, but how was I getting sick in the middle of summer? And how could I go from completely fine to symptomatic from day to day or location to location? Sometimes I was fine at my home and then driving across town caused symptoms. I blame my initial confusion on the foggy head that can accompany what I eventually realized I was suffering: seasonal allergies!
I was told by many locals that the Willamette Valley was known as the Valley of Sickness due to the high pollen counts and common allergy symptoms. Lucky for me, I was in naturopathic school when my symptoms began, so I had guidance to control my symptoms and deal with the underlying causes of my allergies. Nowadays, seasonal allergies are something I commonly see on my patient’s intake forms, though it’s not usually their reason for coming in. Sometimes they don’t even indicate these, but upon questioning, they admit to popping a daily anti-histamine.
If you suffer seasonal allergies or hayfever, we can help!
There are many natural treatments to diminish symptoms and to address the underlying causes of allergies. Below are some notes about how we approach treatment and prevention of seasonal allergies at our clinic. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it’s not too early to be evaluated and start treatment so that you can go through spring and summer with fewer symptoms and more tools at your disposal for when you get allergy symptoms. Call 503-691-0901 to schedule.
Our Treatment Approach for Allergies
- Ensure that the symptoms are caused by allergies. Typically allergies have an itching component, but not always. It’s important to distinguish if the symptoms are caused by allergies or infection.
- Evaluate additional risk factors. For some patients, such as those suffering from asthma, controlling allergy symptoms is more than a question of comfort.
- For some, we taper or wean off of conventional over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications. Coming off these medications will often cause a “rebound” effect or transient increase in symptoms unrelated to exposure to allergens. OTC allergy medications may uncomfortable side effects such as dry mouth, dizziness, palpitations, elevated blood pressure, fatigue or insomnia. They also impact your digestive tract in ways you may be less aware of by decreasing stomach acid production, important for proper digestion and absorption of minerals.
- Prevent or limit exposure to allergens and chemicals by choosing appropriate household products, hepa filtration, cleaning or replacing whole house filters.
- Apply natural treatment strategies. We have a variety of options available for our patients depending on their individual health status, the severity of their symptoms and their personal treatment preferences. Some of the tools we employ include:
- Diet – Often, we recommend an anti-inflammatory diet. This can be daunting, but if you allergies are severe enough, it is very helpful and worth while. Over time, this type of change can be enough to eliminate the need to symptomatic treatment. Colorful foods that contain bioflavinoids and raw local honey may also encouraged in some cases.
- Hydrotherapy – Nasal lavage is a wonderful treatment to remove excess pollen from the nasal passageways. We have the NasoPure system available at our clinic and highly recommend it, but nasal lavage can be done through many different methods. Contrast hydrotherapy is another treatment that can help decrease swelling in the sinuses to reduce allergy symptoms.
- Nutritional supplements – a variety of nutritional supplements may be used to stabilize the cells that release histamine and reduce inflammation. Quercetin, a bioflavinoid and member of the Vitamin C family, is particularly useful in this regard. Other supplements such as bromelain or NAC may be used to help thin mucus.
- Botanical medicine or herbal therapies may also be employed. Nettles, turmeric and ginger have been helpful for many people.
- Homeopathic medicines are particularly useful for allergy symptoms. A variety of over-the-counter combination homeopathic remedies are available for allergies, but check with your provider before using these if you are on other homeopathic remedies.
- Acupuncture is a great treatment for allergies, especially when you are feeling congested and symptomatic. Facial points can help open the sinus passages and provide immediate and lasting relief.
In my own experience, changing my diet, keeping hydrated and using a potent professional line quercetin has been enough to decrease my allergies. While I was working on those changes, I kept homeopathic allergy tabs on hand for occasional use. These days, I’m in control of my allergies and don’t let them limit my activities. Let us know if we can help you get there too.
Bijana Kadakia, ND, LAc