WELLNESS WEDNESDAY: ALLERGY RELIEF TIPS
It's just about that time of year again, and if you're like me, it's already that time of year (actually, my allergies have been bothering me for months so ... that's great!). Millions of people suffer from some kind of seasonal allergy/allergies, so I thought I would share some tips and products that have helped me deal with my allergies, or tips/products that I'd like to try.
I'm allergic to .. like .. everything fun; meaning, nature and animals. Yes, I'm allergic to my own dog. But that's another story. Also: pollen, grass, smoke; the stuff that's hardest to avoid, because I'm just that lucky. Even better, I have asthma that is heavily and easily triggered by my allergies; sometimes, just giving my dog a bath will cause my lungs to just give up on me. Having such sensitive skin and being so prone to allergies, I can just be existing, not doing or touching anything, and just get hives. Also great! So here are some things that have helped me deal with my allergies.
Over-the-counter allergy relief
Not to be dramatic, but Benadryl Itch Cream changed. my. life. As I mentioned, I'm pretty prone to hives, whether they were triggered by something I touched or they just show up unannounced, with no obvious cause. The worst is in the summer, when I'm wearing shorts and t-shirts and basically all my skin is exposed. I have no idea how I discovered this stuff, but you'll thank me for it. Hives are itchy, and can sometimes be painful, but this stuff provides basically instant relief once you apply it. The hive(s) might not disappear immediately, but the sensation will. I highly recommend this stuff if you suffer from hive attacks.
Speaking of Benadryl, I've also used their caplets for allergy relief and of the few allergy medications I've tried, this one has been the most effective. (I've also used Claritin and Allegra, but they just weren't as effective). The few times I've used this, my allergy symptoms are relieved almost immediately. The only issue I have with it is just how drowsy it makes me; if I need to take this, I need to be at home because I will fall asleep.
I think it goes without saying, but if you plan to use this, PLEASE read the whole package and speak to your doctor to make sure it is right for you and your needs before you start using it. And do not use it as an everyday allergy pill; again, speak to your doctor if you think you need something more long-term.
Tips to help combat allergies
These are just from me, a life-long allergy sufferer, passing on her own (crazy) tips to you in hopes they might help.
Dust, sweep, vacuum, and mop your house often. Everyone's homes are different, but I try to vacuum once a week in the spring/summer, and mop a couple times a month. I also have a dog that gets hair everywhere, so if you don't have a pet, you can probably get away with vacuuming less often. Even sweeping once a week and vacuuming every other week should make a difference.
Change/wash your bedding often, especially your pillow cases.
Because I have white bedding and sleep with a dog, I wash my sheets once a week and my duvet cover
every other week (or once a week, depending how dirty the dog made it). Again, not everyone has a dog, so you can probably get away with doing this much less frequently. However, I would recommend washing/changing pillow case(s) once a week (or more) to help reduce allergy symptoms. Don't forget to wash throw blankets, too!
Also, store your clean bedding somewhere that it won't get full of dust and allergens while it's waiting to be used. I store my clean sheets in a big Tupperware in a closet in the basement (not because I'm crazy; that's just where it ended up when we moved in).
If you have a dog that sheds (hair or skin, because the changing seasons can be hard on them, too), have them groomed often or get a specialty shampoo. Because our dog is short haired, we don't have her groomed; it just isn't worth it. Instead, with the help of a lot of peanut butter, we just bathe her ourselves. Over the last few months, she started having REALLY flaky skin, so I just got her this specialty shampoo that's meant to help with skin issues. We've only used it twice, but I *think* it's already helping. For people like me, shedding dogs (and more specifically, dogs with dander) can be a huge allergy trigger, so this might be just what you and your pooch need.
Some things you may not think of:
Replace your pillows as the season(s) change. Some experts recommend changing/replacing your pillows with the change of every season, but that can be wasteful, unnecessary and expensive in the long-run. Again, this can be different for everyone, but I would recommend *at least* replacing your pillows in the spring and the end of fall. Not your throw pillows, don't worry; just the ones you sleep on every night. You can also invest in better quality pillows that won't fall apart if you wash them, so you can save money on constantly buying pillows.
Shake out or wash rugs! Bath mats and smaller decorative rugs in bedrooms and hallways collect dirt and dust since we're constantly walking on them, so don't forget to take them outside for a good beating every now and then. And if they won't fall apart, give them a wash occasionally, too. Obviously, if you have a huge rug in your living room or dining room, this will be a little harder. In that case, just give it a thorough vacuum and try to vacuum UNDERNEATH, where dust, dirt and allergens might be hiding (AKA dog hair. dog hair everywhere).
If you use a re-usable duster/mop head, make sure you clean/wash it, or else you'll just end up spreading dust around rather than picking it up.
Tips from Mayo Clinic:
Reduce your exposure to allergy triggers and take extra steps when pollen count is high
stay inside on dry, windy days
wear a pollen mask
don't hang laundry outside
Keep indoor air clean
use A/C rather than opening windows in the house and your car when pollen counts are high
use a dehumidifier to keep indoor air dry (RIP to your sinuses)
use a portable, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter
use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to ensure floors are clean of pollen/allergens
Try over-the-counter remedies
oral antihistamines to relieve sneezing, itching, runny nose and watery eyes (Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, Benadryl)
decongestants for nasal stuffiness and congestion (available in oral tablets or nasal sprays*)
*When using nasal sprays, try to limit use to a few days in a row; continued use can/will actually make nasal congestion worse (your sinuses will become dependant on the spray to decongest and will stop doing it naturally).
Rinse your sinuses with saline solution; this helps clear mucus and allergens out of your nasal passage. Use a neti-pot or squeeze bottle, with distilled or filtered water and ensure to properly clean the bottle/neti-pot after each use with similarly distilled or filtered water.
Alternative treatments such as acupuncture have been proven to work for some, with no serious side effects or risks. Talk to your doctor if you think this is something you're interested in trying.
Obviously, not everyone is in the same asthma/allergies boat as me, so this probably won't apply to you, but I figured I would share this stuff anyways.
As a kid, I landed in the hospital a couple of times because of asthma attacks (which, by the way, does not mean you're excused from waiting in the ER for hours like everyone else. Apparently a little kid vomiting because their body isn't getting enough oxygen isn't good enough to be taken in immediately...I know the system is screwed up and there aren't enough doctors/nurses, but come on dude...). Anyways! I'm assuming it was after my last stint in the hospital, my doctor put me on a prescription (Singular or Monteluskat) to help control and decrease my asthma symptoms. I vividly remember the first time I took the little chalky pill (it's a different, not chalky formula now, thank the lord); they told me I had to chew it, so being a kid, I listened to the doctors. It was the grossest thing I've ever done, and I never ever chewed it again. So, I've been taking this medication everyday for about 18 years and I've only had 1 asthma attack since.
You don't need to know this, but I will make it known because I will be angry about it until I die: it's expensive. Every refill I get has 90 tablets, so it does last me 3 months, but when I need to refill it, it's about $200 every time. (And that's in Canada; I can't imagine how much this would cost in the US). Maybe one day I'll do a post where I just rant about this, but for now, I'll just leave it here.
I also have an inhaler (by prescription) for asthma emergencies (Ventolin) that's free every time it needs to be refilled but even if it wasn't covered, it only costs about $15.
That's all I have for now. Leave a comment below if you have any other tips that might help fellow allergy sufferers!