South Dakota Survival Toolkit: Spring Allergy Management
We’ve powered through a tough winter, hooray! However, each season brings its own issues with it. During the spring, allergies are one common, frustrating issue that affects a significant portion of the population.
An allergy is a damaging overreaction of the immune system to a substance that is harmless to most people, for example:
- Dust and dust mites
- Mold spores
- Pet dander
- Various foods or food components
In the springtime, the Midwest region of the United States experiences a surge in pollen levels due to the blooming of trees, grass, and weeds. Some people may also be allergic to mold spores, which grow in damp and humid areas such as basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. Additionally, pet dander and dust mites can trigger allergies all throughout the year, but with people starting to open their windows more in the spring, it tends to be a more prominent issue then.
To aid in managing spring allergies, it is foundationally important to focus on establishing and maintaining a healthy “terrain” (meaning your body… especially immune system), as well as considering ways to reduce exposure.
- Strategies for a healthy, balanced immune system include many behaviors you’ve likely already heard about: healthy diet, 7-9 hours of restful sleep most nights, regular physical activity, stress management and meaningful social involvement. For the sake of simplicity, we will stick to expanding on diet in this post.
- Some key vitamins to highlight for balanced immunity: vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc are of top priority.
- Pre, pro- and post-biotic foods and supplements are key. 70-80% of your immune cells reside in your gut (Wiertsema et al., 2021); thereby striving to maintain a healthy gut flora, as well as consuming adequate dietary fiber, is crucial.
- Elderberry, garlic and echinacea are food/supplement options that are known for their effectiveness in prevention and treatment of viral respiratory illnesses (Crawford et al., 2022), and may be helpful used during allergy season as well.
- Our favorite product to recommend has an exquisite blend of elderberry extract, fermented yeast (post-biotic), as well as zinc and vitamins C and D. It is Daily Wellness from LifeVantage, and we have it available to buy in the office or we can help you obtain it online. Ask us more about this, we’re happy to help!
- Strive to avoid or reduce exposure to allergens.
- Clean your home regularly and use a HEPA filter in your vacuum cleaner to remove pet dander, dust mites, and other allergens.
- If you struggle with allergies more at certain times of the day (pollen counts are often higher in the morning), err on the side of staying inside, keeping your windows closed and use air conditioning to filter out pollen and other allergens from the air at these times.
- Consider wearing a mask and/or gardening gloves when doing yard work or outdoor activities to reduce your exposure to pollen and other allergens.
- Use nasal rinsing tools to aid in relieving your symptoms. If mucus remains stagnant long enough in the respiratory sinuses, bacterial sinus infections can occur. Neti Pots are a common tool for this, and we have an excellent product for this purpose for sale at our office: Nasaline Nasal Rinsing System. Ask us more about this, we are happy to help!
- Seeking professional guidance to identify specific allergens that trigger your symptoms can be a game-changer. There are experts in allergy and hypersensitivity testing in the holistic health world, as well as the Western medical world who can help identify your specific triggers. Once you know these, you can take steps to reduce your exposure to them.
While allergies are a nuisance and incredibly common, we are not powerless over them. With knowledge, guidance and action we can all take steps to combat the issue and enjoy a better quality of life during the spring.
- Wiertsema, S. P., van Bergenhenegouwen, J., Garssen, J., & Knippels, L. M. J. (2021). The Interplay between the Gut Microbiome and the Immune System in the Context of Infectious Diseases throughout Life and the Role of Nutrition in Optimizing Treatment Strategies. Nutrients, 13(3), 886. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13030886
- Crawford, C., Brown, L. L., Costello, R. B., & Deuster, P. A. (2022). Select Dietary Supplement Ingredients for Preserving and Protecting the Immune System in Healthy Individuals: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 14(21), 4604. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14214604