Sneezing, coughing, itchy/watery eyes, runny nose and congestion—spring must be in the air. I often feel the spring before even sight of a flower bloom. As a long time allergy suffer, I have the best tips and tricks up my sleeve for seasonal allergy relief, that I share in this article.
Medications are an option and even necessary for some. However, for me almost all anti-histamines stopped providing relief one after another. A normal pollen attack often followed by a secondary sinus infection leading to sometimes multiple antibiotic sessions to clear up. After that, I would spend most of the winter season healing my gut back to action.
My “seasonal” allergies weren’t really seasonal either, I felt miserable with poor quality of life (in reference to hay fever symptoms) year-round. Until, I finally took control of my health with diet and exercise a few years back.
In this article, I’ll share with you my top 5 tips—derived from scientific research along with personal trail and error. These all natural remedies will not only significantly improve your quality of life during the spring season, but overall health as well.
Top 5 Tips for Hay Fever Relief
1. Eat more Fruits and Vegetables
Medical specialists like Krouse et.al. state, “Nutrition is a subject that rarely is emphasized as a therapeutic medical technique, although it has a critical role in maintenance of optimal health.”
The #1 cause of seasonal allergy / hay fever misery, that you need to take control of is Inflammation. Inflammation is caused by body’s natural response to an antigen—harmless pollen or mold spore in our case. Inflammation and tissue injury in allergy involves excess oxidation, a problem for which there are available nutritional treatment strategies.
There are number of anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, phenol/flavonoids that help fight inflammation and provide instant relief; while others work overtime to control and subside the inflammation.
You may also be aware of intravenous injections—“vitamin shots”—that include a cocktail of these above mentioned micros. Furthermore, an equally effective method well supported by science is simply to eat more whole foods like fruits and vegetables. These tend to be naturally high in anti-inflammatory agents and are all natural so, there is no adverse response.
The second benefit for eating more whole foods is that, you are likely eating less processed carbs like chips, bread, cakes, soda and such. These type of treat foods are linked to inflammation, the allergy symptom you are trying to fight and get relief from.
I find instant relief from my allergies when I am eating or chewing something. Likely due to the blood rushing to my stomach for digestion instead of pooling at my sinuses (discussed in the next tip). So, I opt for a piece of fruit or, handful of nuts and seeds along with a beverage. I prefer my ginger and turmeric tea for soothing relief (must have recipe) or, in a pinch will opt for a tall glass of water.
Whole foods introduce essential micros, and water is the medium where all reactions take place in our body. So, relief is experienced by “nursing” wounded cells.
2. Work-out with Intensity
During an allergy assault, most target areas are the sinuses and respiratory track, as this is the passage way of the allergen. All blood rushes to these areas to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out dead cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and to initiate tissue repair. Blood vessels dilate, open up to allow more blood, carrying required immunity/inflammatory agents to these areas.
The fastest way to experience relief is to improve blood circulation. Make this blood go elsewhere away from the sinuses and respiratory track. Exercise is the #1 way to increase and improve circulation.
Exercise is linked to:
boosting immune system
improving mental health and mood
Let’s face it, during hay fever we are experiencing hypersensitive immune system, poor blood circulation as all the blood is directed to the nasal passages, feel fatigued and grumpy and definitely stressed as we can’t get anything done.
BUT, don’t just take my antidotal advice, there is science backing this up.
“The use of vigorous physical exercise has been shown to cause a significant decrease in nasal congestion through stimulation…In fact, exercise is the most commonly used adjuvant therapy in patients with rhinosinusitis.” (Krouse et.al. 2002)
As for type of exercise, personal experience suggests, working out with intensity, especially doing total body movement like: squat, deadlift, pushups, pull-ups—blood is being redirected to areas that need it. The body is no longer just focused on clearing out the allergen, it also is tying to handle the new stress—weight demand—placed upon it.
Through trial and error I have noticed a brisk walk, run or even cardio on the treadmill fail to provide sustainable relief. Recovery from cardio is a lot faster then a heavy weight training session. I have experienced little relief from running with intensity but, soon after the hay fever symptoms re-appear.
However, after training with heavy weights or placing high demands on the body—body weight exercise—the recovery process is prolonged to 24-hours and beyond. Hence, the prolonged relief from congestion and other seasonal allergy symptoms.
I have woken up many days, where I’m sneezing like crazy, eyes and nose are running mile a minute and congested sinuses. The last thing I want to do is exercise but, I’m Stronger Leaner Faster. So, when the going gets tough the tough get going. I’m a strong believer in keeping to my training schedule as much as possible so, if I’ve already skipped a day or two due to my allergies, I will suck it up and get to the gym.
A bad workout is better then no workout!
I have noticed time and time again, my symptoms actually DISAPPEAR! I start to fell relief soon into my dynamic warmup routines and the symptoms starts to dissipate mid-workout and by the end I’m breathing with clear nasal passage and so forth. THIS IS A MUST TRY!
You need to make your body do work. I found the best way to get relief is to put some weight on the bar. If you are already doing our Stronger Learner Faster Him or Stronger Learner Faster Her training then just follow that, you’re set! If you are not, then you need to do exercises that challenge the body such as:
Squats, Deadlifts, pull-ups, pushup, bench; rather then cardio or bicep curls. Total body and bodyweight exercise are the best way to apply the right amount of stress to your body for relief.
So, now that you are committed to the first two all natural allergy relief methods—diet and exercise—here are some immediate things you can do right now!
- In temperate climates, tree pollen is the earliest pollen of the year. Spring time, starting as early as February and may last until June.
- Grasses pollination peaks in the summer months and can extend into the fall.
- Fall is primarily weed pollination season, starting in August and continuing until the first frost.
- Mold is present year round.
- Outdoor and indoor mold counts are highest during the warmer months.
Dust and Dust Mites:
- House dust is a combination of over two dozen identified or suspected allergens.
- Winter is the worst dust allergy season, when low temperatures result in tightly closed houses.
In reference to keeping pollen away, close windows and doors early morning and during the day.
As soon as the first set of sneezes hit and the eyes start to water, close nearby windows especially in your bedroom. Pollen is often high in early mornings right after sunrise and carried through with warm winds during the day. So, if you desire fresh air the best times are at night but be sure to close the window before sunrise, maybe when you getup during the night to use the bathroom.
The best time for fresh air or a walk is on calm days when the air is still, or within 2 hours of a rain. Most pollen is washed from the air during a rain.
Dress like a movie star.
When out and about, wear sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes. Wear a hat to keep pollen out of your hair. When you get indoors, if possible change your clothing.
Take more showers.
When coming indoors after a visit from the park, be sure to jump in the shower to wash off pollen and wear indoor clothing. A shower right before bed and a new pillow case will also help you sleep better.
Using a salt water solution or saline rinse, rinse your sinuses. I buy pre-measured salt packets and bottle designed for nasal rinse. You can also gargle with the same solution or make another salt water solution. It’s soothing for the scratchy throat.
Cold Compress for the eyes and face
Use a cold face cloth or a cold compress eye mask. Place on the eyes and/or face for 5-10 minutes to bring down swelling, stop the itching and overall relief.
Olive Oil for the eyes
This is a personal discovery of mine for a natural soothing eye relief. After washing my eyes, I dab the tiniest amount of EVOO on the fingertips and gently brush over the water damped irritated eyelids. Be careful to use only a little amount or too much will make your eyelids heavy and sleepy.
Herbal remedies include Dandelion, Neetle leaf, other similar type teas. I personally make my own turmeric, ginger and mint tea. My tea, made with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices along with other benefits of antioxidants, is a great start to heal the overworked immune system and stabilize mast cells. From personal experience and others that have tired this tea recipe, experience noticeable positive results within a week.
Nap: If all else fails, do the above and just take a nap if you are able. You will feel so much better! In the past, when my allergies were at their worst, I would put TV on for the kids and crash on the sofa next to them for 20+ minutes to get relief.
Sleep: A good nights sleep is a must, try the techniques mentioned above to get good rest to calm the immune system, build the required hormones and just give your body the maximum time to rest, recover and repair. When my allergies were at their worst, I used to cut down on TV and reading during the allergy season and spend more time with a cold face mask and sleeping.
Long term and Short term relief
These remedies as lifestyle habits, provide grave improvement in energy level, fatigue, mental clarity, decrease in sick days along with fast recovery from any cold, not just hay fever symptoms.
To truly win the battle against seasonal allergies and even poor overall health and fatigue, it’s important to take certain permanent steps towards a lifestyle change. These changes include:
- regularly challenging the body by way of intense physical exercise—making the body do work as it’s designed for.
- providing the body with much needed micronutrients, vitamins and mineral, to build enzymes, hormones and even microbes (good gut bacteria).
- rest, not just tuning out in front of the tv, computer or a book. Try mediation, deep sleep to truly turn off the mind as much as possible and allowing the body to focus on setting a new internal balance.
As you work on the long term healing process, implement the short-term relief strategies mentioned above. I started my health and fitness journey due to my uncontrollable seasonal, year-round allergies, that were so morbid that I could no longer get through the day let alone enjoy the day. You can lean more about our diet philosophy at The No-Diet Book; and my fitness philosophy for females at Stronger Leaner Faster Her, for males Stronger Leaner Faster Him.
Hope you get out there and smell the roses, without sneezing! It’s a beautiful thing 🙂
Btw, if you liked this article, please share it on your favourite social media, Thanks!
Krouse et.al. Allergy and Immunology: an otolaryngic approach. 2002. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Relevant chapters: 16. Seasonal and Perennial Rhinitis; 17. Rhinosinusitis and Allergy; 26. Quality of Life in Allergic Patients; 27. Role of Nutrition in Allergy Management; 28. Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Otolaryngic Allergy.