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Help During A Prolonged Allergy Season

Did you know that fluctuating temperatures can contribute to a longer allergy season?

Well, that's certainly the case for the DMV area this spring.

We had weather in the 70s a few weeks ago, encouraging the cherry blossoms to peak earlier then expected. However, that next week, the temperature dropped about 20-30 degrees. Not cold enough to cause frost, but enough that the local flora and fauna took notice and slowed down its' pollen production into a slow, consistent flow.

So how can temperature fluctuations lead to longer allergy seasons? What are the mechanisms?

Extended Pollen Production: Fluctuating temperatures, especially warmer temperatures, can stimulate plants to produce pollen earlier in the season and for longer periods. Additionally, warmer temperatures can lead to increased pollen production by extending the growing season for plants that produce allergenic pollen.

Altered Plant Phenology: Fluctuating temperatures can disrupt the timing of plant growth and flowering, known as plant phenology. Changes in plant phenology can lead to overlapping seasons for different plant species, resulting in a longer period of exposure to allergenic pollen.

Increased Pollen Spread: Warmer temperatures can also lead to increased pollen dispersal and spread. Strong winds and fluctuating weather patterns can carry pollen over longer distances, exposing individuals to allergens from plants that may not be present locally.

Proliferation of Allergenic Plants: Fluctuating temperatures and changing climate conditions can favor the growth and proliferation of certain allergenic plants, such as ragweed and certain grasses. As these plants thrive in warmer temperatures and elevated carbon dioxide levels, they may produce more pollen and extend the duration of the allergy season.

Shifts in Allergen Sensitivity: Prolonged exposure to allergens due to a longer allergy season can lead to increased sensitization in susceptible individuals. This heightened sensitivity may exacerbate allergy symptoms and prolong the duration of allergic reactions.

Overall, fluctuating temperatures can interact with various environmental factors to prolong the allergy season, leading to increased pollen exposure and heightened allergy symptoms for affected individuals. As climate change continues to influence weather patterns and plant behavior, understanding these interactions becomes increasingly important for managing and mitigating the impacts of seasonal allergies.

Fortunately, if you are one of the many who are suffering from seasonal allergies, that are quite a few things you can do at home to mitigate your allergy symptoms.

Here are some natural ways to combat seasonal allergies:

Limit Outdoor Exposure During Peak Pollen Times: Pollen counts tend to be highest in the morning and on windy days. Try to stay indoors during these times, especially when pollen counts are elevated.

Keep Windows Closed: Keep windows and doors closed during allergy season to prevent pollen from entering your home.

Use Air Purifiers: Consider using HEPA air purifiers in your home to filter out pollen and other allergens from the air. I recommend that, at a minimum, you keep one in all of the bedrooms of the house.

Saline Nasal Rinse: Use a saline nasal rinse or neti pot to flush out allergens from your nasal passages and relieve congestion.

Steam Inhalation: Inhaling steam can help soothe nasal passages and alleviate congestion. You can do this by taking a hot shower or using a steam inhaler.

Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help thin mucus and keep nasal passages moist.

Local Honey: Some people believe that consuming local honey, which contains trace amounts of local pollen, may help build tolerance to allergens over time. While scientific evidence is limited, it may be worth trying.

Quercetin: Quercetin is a natural compound found in certain foods like onions, apples, and berries. It has anti-inflammatory properties and may help stabilize mast cells, which release histamine during allergic reactions.

Butterbur: Butterbur is a herb that has been used traditionally to treat allergies and asthma. Some studies suggest that butterbur extract may help reduce allergy symptoms, although more research is needed.

Probiotics: Some research suggests that probiotics may help modulate the immune system and reduce allergic inflammation. [Be careful about probiotic-rich food though; probiotic capsules may be the best bet during allergy season. See below for more information]

Herbal Teas: Herbal teas containing ingredients like peppermint, ginger, and chamomile may help soothe allergy symptoms and promote relaxation. Nettle is one of the go-to herbal teas for allergy symptoms. Peppermint and eucalyptus are great add-ins when you are experiencing pressure or nasal congestion (i.e. versus runny nose).

Essential Oils: Certain essential oils, such as peppermint and eucalyptus oil, may help relieve nasal congestion when used in a diffuser or applied topically (diluted with a carrier oil).

Avoid Allergen Triggers: Try to avoid exposure to allergens that trigger your symptoms. This may include staying indoors on high pollen days, keeping pets out of bedrooms, and using allergen-proof covers on pillows and mattresses.

It's also important to look at our diets if we experience allergies:

Avoid foods that are high in histamine or trigger its release. These may include fermented foods (such as aged cheese, sauerkraut, and yogurt), processed meats, alcohol (particularly wine and beer), canned fish, and certain fruits (such as citrus fruits and strawberries). Fresh foods are generally lower in histamine.

Opt for fresh foods rather than processed or leftovers, as histamine levels increase in foods as they age.

Rotate your diet to avoid consuming the same high-histamine foods repeatedly. This can help prevent the accumulation of histamine in your system.

Incorporate foods that have natural antihistamine properties into your diet, such as fresh herbs (e.g., parsley, basil), ginger, onions, and garlic.

Finally, I can't end this post without mentioning acupuncture and how it can help with allergies.

Acupuncture may offer several potential benefits in mitigating allergic reactions:

Regulation of the Immune System: Acupuncture may help regulate the immune response, which plays a crucial role in allergic reactions. By stimulating certain acupuncture points, it is believed to modulate immune function, potentially reducing hypersensitivity reactions.

Reduction of Inflammation: Allergic reactions often involve inflammation in the body. Acupuncture may help reduce inflammation by promoting the release of anti-inflammatory substances or by affecting the body's inflammatory pathways.

Symptom Relief: Acupuncture has been reported by some individuals to provide relief from allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itching, and watery eyes. This symptom relief may be attributed to acupuncture's effects on neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and histamine, as well as its ability to promote relaxation.

Stress Reduction: Stress can exacerbate allergic symptoms and may play a role in the severity of allergic reactions. Acupuncture sessions are often accompanied by a sense of relaxation and well-being, which may help reduce stress levels and, consequently, alleviate allergy symptoms.

Balancing Energy Flow: According to TCM theory, allergies are viewed as imbalances in the body's energy flow or disruptions in the meridians. Acupuncture aims to restore balance and harmony within the body's energy systems, which may indirectly alleviate allergy symptoms.

Complementary Therapy: Acupuncture is often used as a complementary therapy alongside conventional treatments for allergies, such as antihistamines and nasal corticosteroids. It may enhance the effectiveness of standard treatments or help reduce the reliance on medication for symptom management.

As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to our office. We're help to help however we can! or 703-848-1980

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