Sneeze-Free Spring

Spring has finally arrived, but with those trees and blooming flowers comes the dreaded spring allergies.   Pollen becomes airborne and allergy sufferers begin sniffling and sneezing.  40 million Americans a year suffer from allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever.

The main cause of spring allergies is pollen.  Trees, grasses, and weeds release pollen into the air which can be inhaled through the nose.  Most seasonal allergies occur when the immune system mistakes the pollen as a foreign invader and releases antibodies.  These antibodies are typically used in order to attack bacteria, viruses, and other illness-causing organisms.  When the antibodies attack these allergens, they release chemicals called histamines into the blood which can help stop itchy and running nose and eyes, sneezing, and coughing.

The higher the pollen count, the more likely allergies will flare up.  For an accurate pollen count in your area, click here.  On breezy days, allergy symptoms become more prominent due to the wind picking up pollen and carrying it through the air.  On rainy days, most allergens are washed away, reducing the number of allergy symptoms.

Many people turn to the help of both prescription and OTC medications to manage allergy symptoms.  As with all medications, there are risks because of the possible side effects.

Anti-histamines can cause drowsiness throughout the day, increasing the risk of falls in the elderly as well as increasing the probability of a work or auto related accident.  Anti-histamines often lose their effectiveness over time.  Most OTC decongestants should only be used for 7-10 days.

Nasal decongestants are effective because they reduce blood flow to the nose, constricting blood vessels and decreasing inflammation.  If they are used for long periods of time they may cause rebound nasal congestion.  Nasal decongestants have been shown to cause high blood pressure and heart palpitations, putting older adults and people with cardiovascular disease particularly at risk.

The common side effects of the various OTC nasal decongestants and anti-histamines are often unappealing to people suffering from allergies, sinusitis, and nasal congestion, leading people to look for drug-free alternatives.  There are many benefits to choosing a drug-free alternative.  Drug-free alternatives are safer, have fewer side effects, and can last for longer periods.

When choosing a drug-free product for allergies and congestion, people should always look for the ingredients that are well known for their safety profile and anti-inflammatory properties.  Look for ingredients that have been carefully selected based on their history of safety and efficacy for supporting the natural processes that reduce inflammation, sinus congestion, and an overactive immune response.

Grape seed extract, for example, increases levels of antioxidants by destroying free radicals which are known to cause premature cell death.  Another ingredient to look out for is Choline Bitratrate.  Choline Bitartrate is the precursor to Acetylcholine (Ach), an essential neurotransmitter in your nervous system which can decrease levels of inflammation in the body.  Ach is the neurotransmitter that also controls mucous secretion, membrane constriction, and blood supply to nasal and sinus cavities.  L-Arginine is another safe and effective ingredient that promotes the production of Nitric Oxide, a neurotransmitter that causes the smooth muscle in  blood vessels to relax which helps to increase blood flow.

There are a few other precautions that a person can take in order to help avoid spring allergy triggers.  Getting an air filter can help circulate air around the house, as well as help trap and get rid of some of the larger particles of pollen.  Vacuuming twice a week can help get rid of dust mites that have been trapped in the carpet.  Washing your hair after going outside can help get rid of pollen that may have been caught in a person’s hair.  Clean air filters and book shelves in order to clear off dust mites that collect in the home.  When driving, keep windows closed because the car filter helps remove allergens from the air.  For more helpful solutions please click here.