Fall Allergies and how to minimize them

IMG_3038By Melissa McConnell

While I was riding along Kelly Drive today, I couldn’t help but notice the change that is suddenly upon us this week.  The leaves before me have lost their vibrancy, their radiance of Summer – their lackluster appearance on this sunny September day reminds me how quickly time continues to move on.  The brightness and warmth of summer is coming to an end as the crispness of fall looms in the background.  Fall foliage, cool morning and evening hours, hay rides and the “tastes” of Autumn can be a welcomed time for many, but for some, the fall season marks a period of time that can be quite uncomfortable due to seasonal allergies.

Commonly called “hay fever” or allergic rhinitis, seasonal allergies are an allergic reaction to a trigger that is typically only present for a small segment of the year (Spring/Fall).  According to the National Center for Health Statistics about 26 million endure chronic seasonal allergies, with about 40 million people suffering only mild seasonal allergy symptoms.  Researchers have also established that seasonal allergies run in the family and they, therefore, have a strong genetic factor.

Allergies occur when the body’s immune system misidentifies a harmless substance as a threat to the body and launches an immune response to battle the threat.  Common allergens (substances that produce allergic reactions) include foods, pollen, animal dander, mold, insect venom, drugs and dust mites.  The immune response generates an inflammatory reaction, usually within 5 to 10 minutes of exposure to the allergen, in an attempt to eject the “offensive substance” from the body, resulting in a variety of symptoms, such as itchy & watery eyes, runny noses, sinus pressure/headaches, “foggy head,” fatigue, congestion, sneezing, and coughing.

A recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine examined a group of 422 people who suffer from seasonal allergies, who tested positive for pollen allergies and had nasal symptoms such as nasal congestion and a runny nose (rhinitis).  The 422 participants were divided into three groups and the study lasted for 2 months –

#1 received 12 acupuncture treatments & took antihistamines as needed

#2 received 12 “fake” acupuncture treatments & took antihistamines as needed

#3 only took antihistamines

The study concluded that the participants from group #1 showed the greatest improvement in their allergy symptoms and also had a decrease in the use of antihistamines.

Here are three simple things you can do to help prevent/decrease potential seasonal allergy symptoms –

Diet

Diet plays an important role in controlling/managing seasonal allergies.  Sweets, dairy and cold foods all tend to increase mucus production – ice cream, yogurt, milk and cheese are at the top of the list of foods to avoid during allergy season.  When mucus accumulates in the body, allergens stimulate a much stronger allergic reaction.  When digestion is efficient there is less of a tendency for mucus build up.

Make sure you are drinking at least 8 large (8 ounces) of water a day…minimum

Decrease, or if you are like me and like a challenge, eliminate dairy and sugar from your diet and see what happens…I bet you’ll feel a lot better and have minimal sinus symptoms!  And your GI system will be much happier!

Acupuncture

Acupuncture treatments focus on restoring balance within the body, improving the immune system,  tonifying the digestive system, decreasing stress and pain levels, enhancing blood circulation leading to an overall improvement in health and wellbeing.    Acupuncturists typically insert needles locally (points around the nose, eyes and cheeks) to relieve nasal congestion/runny nose, itchy/watery eyes, sinus pressure and sneezing.  Acupuncture needles are also inserted distally, along the arms/hands and legs/feet, to achieve improvement within the respiratory and digestive systems.

So, come on in for a “Seasonal Tune-Up” with Dave or Melissa!

Sleep

Try going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning (the body likes this routine) AND try to get at least 7 hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep…you’ll feel better and more energized each day.

I hope this article is helpful to all and I wish everyone an enjoyable, allergy-free fall season!


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