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How to avoid allergy problems

How to avoid allergy problemsIt’s that time of year again: itchy eyes, runny noses, scratchy throats, and constant sneezing… allergy season is upon us. Springtime is beautiful in Nashville with its blooming trees and flowers. But with it comes allergies in all shapes and sizes, as Christiana Muir reports.

And while they may be pretty to look at, if you find yourself feeling unwell when you go outside, your body may be alerting you to an outdoor pollen allergy. In the months of March-
October, Nashville residents experience a variety of allergies. In the summer it’s grass, and in the fall it’s ragweed, and right now in spring it’s pollen.

Pollen has been referred to as the “snow of the South” as it seems to cover anything it can touch. Weather patterns directly affect pollen. It’s in the air on dry and warm days and spread by wind. Typically, Nashville doesn’t have many freezing nights during the spring causing the pollen to stick around. Often, you will find a dusting of yellow on your windows, cars and outdoor furniture letting you know that spring is in the air. As you breathe in pollen, your immune system mistakes it for invading germs. As a way to protect itself, it sneezes the pollen out. This can also lead to sinus congestion. In addition to sneezing, your eyes may be watery, red, and itchy, all signs that are common with pollen allergies. As your eyes come in contact with pollen, they release a chemical called histamine that causes swelling and inflammation because your eyes are irritated. Another symptom of pollen allergies is a sore irritated throat. As your body is exposed to pollen, it may drain down to your throat causing coughing, excessive swallowing, irritation and difficulty speaking.

So, if you don’t want to bunker down in your home for the next three seasons, how can you treat your allergies and still spend time outdoors? Pollen is released in the morning, so it is best to spend time outdoors in the afternoon when the pollen concentration isn’t as high. The best time to go outside is after a fresh rain when the pollen has been washed away. Despite the beautiful weather, try to avoid driving with the windows open or going for walks on breezy days because it will blow pollen directly onto your face. In addition, wash your fruits and vegetables well as they are probably covered in pollen you cannot see. Thankfully, there are over the counter medications you can take as well. Most doctors suggest for patients to choose one of three common antihistamines, Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra (or their generic equivalent), and one of two nasal steroid sprays, Flonase and Nasacort (or their generic equivalents). Also, be sure to try out some of these homemade remedies for allergy relief.

Natural cures for a natural problem
By Sheila McGinnis, local Herbalist

Ahhh the beauty of spring is in full bloom and so is the pollen! Allergy sufferers take heed! You can run to the doctor or pharmacy for a pill or spray or you can turn to nature and what has been used for generations with proven results. Below are some of my favorites and their benefits.

Local raw honey (think of using honey that has same plants/weeds that are in your state): Minimizes the symptoms of seasonal allergies and hayfever. Strengthens the immune system. Relieves sore throat pain.

Netie pot or saline sprays: Take about ¼ to ½ of non-iodized salt to one cup of warm water (preferably distilled water) and rinse your nose a couple of times a day to rinse out pollen and even mold.

Quercetin: Antioxidant; Relieves symptoms of allergies such as itchy eyes and sneezing, asthma and hives. Helps with some food allergies.

Warning: Do not take if you have liver disease, pregnant or nursing.
Stinging Nettle (as effective as most prescribed/over the counter antihistamines): Relieves hay fever symptoms. Eczema is decreased. Asthma improves.

Calms allergic reactions. Clears the respiratory tracts. Treats and can even prevent migraines (I know this has worked for me). Also a great fever reducer.

Essential oils:
Lemon, lavender, and peppermint (preferably organic): 3 drops each in a gel capsule.

Sheila McGinnis is a wife and mom of three and has been studying natural ways to care for her family when she was told her youngest child’s disabilities were caused by the environment. She has completed a course in Aroma-medicine for the Family  as well as an Herbalism course. She currently has a Facebook page and Group called Living Naturally as well as making her own products for the house and for personal health. Email her at

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