This time of year is usually when I start treating more and more patients for seasonal allergies. Usually the most effective treatments involve Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs combined with at-home care. Today let's talk about what I like to recommend for at-home care for my patients at Christina Wallace Acupuncture.
Know your triggers and watch pollen and mold counts. For serious allergy sufferers it can be incredibly helpful to make an appointment with an allergist to determine what types of pollen, mold, or other environmental triggers you are allergic to. Then you will be armed with knowledge to keep tabs on these triggers and take extra precautions when these counts are high. It is good to know which plants and trees release more pollen in the morning or the evening for example, so that you might be able to adjust your time spent outdoors walking or bicycling.
Keep windows closed in your home and car. I know, I know. It is gorgeous outside and you just want to enjoy the fresh air circulating through your home... but during days or weeks where pollen counts are high, just imagine all of that pollen now circulating in your home instead and settling on bedding, rugs, and upholstered furniture.
Shower and change clothes when coming in from outdoors. If you've been outside playing, exercising, or working in the yard then make sure that you change out of your clothing when you get indoors, shower, and wash your hair. Otherwise, you are just bringing allergens in with you and inhaling them from your hair and clothing for the rest of the day.
Use a neti pot or saline nasal spray. This one is personal preference, as some patients do not like the experience of using a neti pot for sinus irrigation. If you are one of those patients, then I would suggest using a saline nasal spray that you can find at the pharmacy. It won't clean as deeply into your nasal passages as the neti pot would, but can still be helpful and better tolerated that the neti pot for some people. If you've never tried using a neti pot, then I would encourage you to do so during allergy season with either saline solution or weak green tea which has antibacterial qualities. This helps to keep your nasal passages passages clear of pollen, mold, and other allergens that get trapped in the hair and cilia. The saline solution also acts to soothe inflammation in mucous membranes.
Natural eye drops if needed. I have a hard time recommending many commercial eye drops for eye allergy symptoms of redness, itching, dryness, or watering eyes, simply because their harsh chemicals can be irritating for many people. I have however found a natural Swiss brand called Similasan, that makes an effective and gentle formula of eye drops for allergy relief that can be found in most pharmacies. Many of my patients and myself have found these to work well without causing any extra irritation.
Get Acupuncture with Moxibustion Treatments for both symptom relief and preventative care. Acupuncture can be effective for treating allergy symptoms when used in conjunction with these at-home strategies. But the best treatments are always preventative and in the case of allergies require some advanced planning. For patients who suffer from terrible spring allergies, my gold standard treatment is to have them come in for a course of several preventative treatments in the fall to prepare them for the allergy season that is still a handful of months away. If we can plan this far in advance you will be impressed with how little you need my help when spring rolls around.
Hopefully these tips are helpful reminders of how to care for yourself and your loved ones during allergy season. Please reach out to me over email or a phone call if you have any questions or would like to talk about using acupuncture to help treat your allergies.