Seasonal Allergy Season Starts in early February


Achooo.


Here we go.


Allergy season is here.


What?!


It's only February!


Well yes, the first buds on the trees appear at the end of January commemorating the start of tree allergy season.


If you suffer from Allergy season it is time to have your plan of attack.

Grass season will shortly arrive in July , followed by mold (and our new friend smoke) in August/September/October.


Most people feel unwell when their allergies are kicked in. Symptoms may include runny nose, shortness of breath, irritated eyes, concentration difficulties, congestion, and scratchy throat.


Enough to make you a bit miserable , distracted, and less productive.


Seasonal allergies are very common . We are also learning that they may make other conditions worse. Spring/Summer also seems to be flare season for my patients with TH2 dominant conditions like crohn's and colitis and perhaps subsets of IBS. There is a link between histamine and its effect on the immune system and these conditions. Usually mediated by TH-17.


So we must be ready for February-October as being a time of flaring.


One of my mentors in environmental medicine stated that the key to environmental allergies is as follows:

  1. avoidance

  2. avoidance

  3. avoidance

Yet, it's pretty much impossible to avoid tree allergens in Washington and many other areas of the country.


Of course it's somewhat possible if you only live on a property that has tree species you tolerate.


But if you hike, exercise, and do other outdoor activities then you are ultimately going to be exposed to your allergens.


So there are several other things you can do to avoid allergens.


First, removing shoes outside your front door if possible so you don't track pollens into the house (also limits the amount of dust brought into the house).


Also incorporate and evening shower or bath to rinse your hair and body from collected pollens.


You can also run a High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter (HEPA )filter into your home. Selecting a Hepa Filter is another topic yet there are exceptional ones like the Alen Hepa Filters.


You can also lavage pollens out of your sinus and nasal passage with a neti pot


I like to use a stainless steel Neti Pot for cleanliness reasons.



Neti potting is an art and should be done twice per day during allergy season.


Here are some helpful tips on how to Neti pot.


PLEASE NOTE if you have pre-existing disorders of dizziness, neck problems, or vertigo you should consult with your doctor before performing the Neti pot.


Preparation

  • Boil 16 oz of filtered water to remove chlorine and contaminants. I use a water boiler like the Corsori kettle to boil the water as it takes a minute or two.

  • Because cold water irritates the mucus membranes make sure to allow it to be "cool to your wrist" temperature water before using

  • When ready fill up a measuring glass with the boiled water

  • Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt to the water

  • Then add 1/2 tsp baking soda as a buffer and break up mucus.

  • Then add 1/4 teaspoon of Xylitol . Xylitol has great anti-allergy effects.

  • Mix water, baking soda and xylitol . Stir so that the solution dissolves.

  • Fill the neti-pot with 8 ounce of of mixture for the right nostril



Rinsing the Nose


Follow the next steps closely. Should there be a problem, read further for help with possible mistakes you may be making.


  1. Place the tip of the spout in the nostril which feels most open - from the side, not from the front - and press lightly up into the nostril so that the nostril closes tightly around the tip.

  2. Breathe through the mouth. It is not possible to breathe through the nose at the same time as water is running through it.

  3. Bend slightly forward from the hips so your head is over the sink. Keep your chin tucked in towards the body. Rest forehead on the faucet if it helps. Do not stick your chin out.

  4. Turn your head a little so you are looking toward the neti pot (remember to keep your chin in). The water will flow in through one nostril and out through the other.

  5. When about half of the water has run through, raise your head up and remove the neti-pot. A little water will run out of your nose, and you can empty the nostrils by closing one at a time and blowing gently out. Do not blow so hard that it makes the ears pop.

  6. refill the other 8 oz of water into the neti pot

  7. Pour the remainder of the water through the other nostril now.


All Water Must Come Out


Make sure there is NO water remaining in the nose and sinuses after nasal cleansing. It is not good for the mucus membranes to have water there for long periods - especially in the winter. There may be no water left inside, but check in case some remains:

  1. Bend forward so the top of your head is hanging down. Turn your head to the side, close the lower nostril with one finger and blow gently, not hard, through the upper nostril. Hold some tissue paper in front of your nose.

  2. Move your head to a horizontal position, face towards the floor and blow out of the same nostril. Blow a couple of times in each position. If necessary, you can repeat steps 9 and 10 several times.

  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to the other side.

  4. Stand up and blow a few times in and out of each nostril to «dry» the nose. (If you practice Yoga, Sirsasana, and the breathing technique Bhastrikamay be done after nasal cleansing).


Supplementation and Medication


It is inevitable that some sort of medication can be used. Most people will choose a non-sedating H1 blocker like cetirizine. At this time I am unaware of any long term risks of using these agents. Sedating