Weather is warming, snow is melting and the sun is shining – and for many, that means one thing: allergies. There are natural steps you can take for preventing or relieving sinus allergies and pressure so that you can go on with life.
While colds are caused by viruses, allergies are caused by irritation. According to WebMD, tissue lining the nose can swell when irritated by an allergens such as seasonal pollen or ragweed, or year round allergens like pet dander, mold, and dust mites. When your body has an allergic reaction, a chemical called ”histamine” is released and these can cause those irritating symptoms, like a runny nose, itchiness or coughing.
Why Natural Remedies are Best
As a life long allergy sufferer, I have tried numerous products over the years – both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC), and all of them have had one thing in common: my system becomes resistant to them. In addition, the most common OTC treatment for allergies is an antihistamine. These drugs unfortunately can cause drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and intestinal issues. The Mayo Clinic reports that you can even overdose on antihistamines putting you at risk for convulsions or seizures, faintness, difficulty breathing and other symptoms. Taken together, treating the root cause and relieving sinus allergies without OTC medication is a wise choice.
5 Ways to Relieve Sinus Allergies and Pressure
How can you relieve your sinus allergies without medication? Allergies that attack the sinuses can often be helped with a common sense approach, but it may take a little digging to investigate the source of your problem.
1. Know your allergen
The first question is to figure out what allergen is triggering the reaction. I would avoid doing a scratch test personally, especially on your child. They are very uncomfortable and can have false positives. First, try to investigate the problem on your own. Keep a record of where and when an allergy strikes. Things to note include:
- What have I just eaten? For example, a dairy allergy can lead to a runny nose and congestion after drinking milk or eating cheese. If you frequently consume dairy, you may attribute the allergy to something else so you may want to avoid the most common trigger foods for a while.
- What season is it? Mold and pollen cause outdoor allergies. You may be able to check the local pollen and spore count for your area on any given day at the AAAAI database.
- What was the weather like? We often think of “allergy season,” but personally I tend to experience sinus inflammation on high-pressure days, such as when it’s very grey outside which could mean mold is a trigger.
- Is there a particular place or area my allergies occur? Look at the environment you are in where your allergies are the worst. For example, my daughter is allergic to dust mites, so going to bed was a trigger for her.
2. Eat to prevent and reduce reactions
No matter what causes your allergy, certain foods are more likely to ramp up your inflammation and irritation. When I feel a sinus headache coming on, foods I avoid that day include wheat products, dairy, chocolate, coffee and alcohol. Avoid excess sugar and processed foods. Instead, choose options that will provide maximum healing benefits. On high allergy days, try eating these foods:
- Foods rich in Omega-3, such as flax seed or fish, are a great help when suffering allergies.
- Bee honey is recommended to help you build up tolerance to pollen, but make sure the honey is from a local source to address your particular allergen (if you can't source it locally, we love this organic, pesticide-free honey)
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. According to Next Avenue, lots of produce, such as citrus fruits, apples, tomatoes, broccoli, garlic and more contain antioxidants that have antihistamine properties. In addition, a 2006 study shows that leafy greens may reduce allergy symptoms as well.
- A cup of green tea is not only full of antioxidants, but it also blocks histamines.
- As always, drink plenty of filtered water to process the toxins out of your system.
3. Avoid irritants
Just like eating proactively, you will want to avoid pollutants that can ramp up your allergy when possible. These not only include pollen or mold, but cigarette smoke, fragrances, car fumes, salon chemicals like hair spray, chemical cleaning products, and air fresheners. In addition, if you are allergic to dust mites, invest in a hypoallergenic bottom sheet and pillowcase to reduce your exposure. With care, these linens can last a long time and make you feel better. I used this solution to help my daughter.
4. Clear your sinuses
A Neti Pot uses pure saline water to irrigate your sinuses and remove those allergens and mucus build-up. It can clear you up and relieve pressure that can lead to pain. For those of you who are uncomfortable with this process, you can steam out your sinuses, just by running hot water in your bathroom and putting a towel over your head and faucet to trap the steam.
5. Clean your house
This is a challenge if you are in the throes of an allergy attack, but try to wait until your reactions calm down to clean.
- Dusting: You’ll need to dust out hard-to-reach places such as a ceiling fans under the couch and high shelves to eliminate as much dust as possible. Here are more ways to “Bust that dust”!
- Vacuum thoroughly, from under your couch cushions to molding where dust can accumulate. You may want to consider buying a vacuum with a HEPA-rated filter.
- Use an air filter: If you live in a house, may also want to buy an allergen air filter – and remember to replace it frequently.
- Scrub tile and corners in your bathroom well to eliminate mold.
- Vent wisely: Strategically open or close windows. While you want to vent out toxins, you also want to make sure you are not opening a window near a pollen or mold source, particularly on a windy day. Keep your windows closed on high pollen and mold days and open when levels are low.
- Use natural cleaners. Cleaners or air fresheners – even candles – with fragrances or harsh chemicals can irritate the allergy. I recommend using unscented, organic cleaners or make your own.
- Remove your shoes. You don’t need your family tracking in more pollen, dust and allergens!
These 5 strategies will go a long way to keeping your home clean and clear of allergens and keep your family breathing easy.