Are you sick and tired of sneezing, sniffling, and having itchy eyes every season? You’re not alone. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, over 100 million people in the U.S. experience different types of allergies every year.
Whether triggered by pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or mold, allergies can be a constant source of discomfort and frustration. For this reason, most people rely on over-the-counter (OTC) medications for relief. Sadly, these medications often come with unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness and nausea.
Fortunately, there are several home remedies for allergies that you can use to help alleviate your symptoms without the need for medications.
In this article, we’ll explore the best at-home natural alternatives to alleviate allergy symptoms, their potential risks, and effective options for those seeking a holistic approach to managing their seasonal allergies.
What Are Allergies?
An allergy is an immune response to substances that are usually not harmful. These substances, known as allergens, include dust mites, pet dander, plant pollen, molds, foods, and some medications. An allergic reaction occurs when someone sensitive to these allergens comes into contact with them.
The symptoms of such a reaction can vary depending on the allergen, the severity of the sensitivity, and how it enters the body. Some common types of allergies include:
- Seasonal allergies
- Food allergies
- Dust allergies
- Medication allergies
- Pet allergies
- Insect sting allergies
Most people with allergies are often sensitive to more than one thing. For instance, someone may have a pollen allergy but also have an intolerance to certain foods. There are also cases when people have multiple allergies, such as hay fever and pet allergies. In these cases, it is important to understand the different triggers to better manage symptoms.
What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies, aka hay fever or allergic rhinitis, are typically caused by an allergic reaction to certain substances that are prevalent during specific times of the year. For instance, tree pollen is common in the spring, while grass pollen is more frequent in the summer.
Ragweed pollen and mold spores are also common allergens during late summer and early fall.
When these allergens come into contact with the body's mucous membranes, they cause an immune system reaction that leads to inflammation and irritation of the nasal passageways. Exposure to allergens can also cause a variety of other symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies?
Seasonal allergies can be easy to identify by their symptoms, however, symptoms can vary in severity, and some people may experience additional symptoms such as earaches, facial pressure, or exacerbation of underlying conditions like asthma, eczema, or sinusitis. The most common symptoms of seasonal allergies include:
- Sneezing: Frequent and repetitive sneezing, often accompanied by an itchy or runny nose.
- Nasal congestion: A stuffy or blocked nose due to inflammation of the nasal passages.
- Runny nose: Excessive production of clear, watery mucus from the nose, also known as rhinorrhea.
- Itchy or watery eyes: Irritation, redness, itching, and excessive tearing of the eyes, known as allergic conjunctivitis.
- Coughing: Dry or nonproductive cough caused by postnasal drip, where mucus from the nose drips down the back of the throat.
- Itchy throat or ears: Irritation or discomfort in the throat or ears, often accompanied by a scratchy or tickling sensation.
- Fatigue: Feeling tired or lacking energy due to the body's immune response and disrupted sleep caused by nasal congestion.
- Headache: Some individuals may experience headaches, often due to sinus pressure and congestion.
How Long Do Seasonal Allergies Last?
The duration of seasonal allergies can vary from person to person, depending on various factors such as the specific allergen, individual immune response, and geographic location. These allergies can last for several weeks to months, coinciding with the period when the specific allergen is prevalent in the environment.
For example, if you are allergic to tree pollen, your symptoms may occur in the spring when trees release their pollen. Similarly, if you are allergic to grass or weed pollen, your symptoms may arise during the summer or fall when these plants actively produce pollen.
The duration of symptoms can also be influenced by how long you are exposed to the allergen and how sensitive you are to it. Some individuals may experience symptoms for a shorter period, while others may have more prolonged or even year-round symptoms due to multiple allergens or underlying conditions like asthma.
Natural Allergy Relief Options
Dealing with allergies can be a challenging and uncomfortable experience for many individuals, affecting their daily lives. Fortunately, several natural remedies can help alleviate many common allergy symptoms. These include:
Quercetin is an antioxidant flavonoid found in various plants and foods. Adding this flavonoid to your diet may alleviate some of your allergy symptoms. Research shows that quercetin exhibits antihistamine properties.
For example, a study on mice demonstrated that quercetin reduced the respiratory effects of allergens by reducing airway inflammation. However, evidence for its effectiveness is mixed, and more studies are needed to fully understand its potential benefits.
Some of the best food sources of quercetin include:
- Black tea
- Buckwheat tea
- Red onions
- Green tea
- Red wine
- Ginkgo biloba
While quercetin is naturally present in many foods and herbs, taking supplements can be more effective because they have a higher concentration. And while this antioxidant is generally safe, it may cause headaches and tingling in the arms and legs for some individuals. Make sure to consult your doctor before taking any supplements to make sure they are safe for you.
Some studies suggest that certain strains of probiotics, particularly Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, may help modulate the immune system and potentially reduce the severity of allergy symptoms. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods or taken as supplements to help the body maintain a healthy and well-balanced gut microbiota. The best food sources of probiotics include:
- Miso Soup
By boosting your intake of probiotics, you have a better chance of keeping your symptoms under control. That's because they boost your immune system and improve your body's ability to fight off allergens. However, just like quercetin supplements, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before taking probiotics, as some people may experience side effects such as stomach upsets and diarrhea.
Saline Nasal Rinses
Saline nasal rinses can be an effective and natural way to alleviate allergy symptoms. They work by clearing irritants, allergens, and excess mucus from the nasal passages, reducing inflammation and alleviating congestion.
When allergens come into contact with the nasal passage, they trigger an allergic response in sensitive individuals, leading to inflammation. Saline nasal rinses involve using a saline solution to rinse the nasal passages, effectively flushing out these allergens.
By removing these allergens, you can reduce the allergic response and minimize symptoms. The saline solution also acts as a mild anti-inflammatory agent, soothing the nasal tissues and reducing swelling.
Steam inhalation and taking a hot bath can provide relief from allergy symptoms by soothing and calming down inflamed nasal membranes. The warm steam alleviates congestion, nasal irritation, and sinus pressure commonly associated with spring allergies.
By breathing in the steam, the moist air can help moisturize dry nasal passages and thin out mucus, making it easier to expel. Additionally, the heat can promote relaxation and reduce discomfort caused by allergy symptoms.
However, it's important to note that while steam inhalation and hot baths can provide temporary relief, they may not address the underlying cause of allergies and should be used with other allergy management strategies.
Bromelain is a natural enzyme derived from pineapples that has gained attention for its potential health benefits. Research shows that bromelain reduces inflammation and swelling of the sinuses associated with seasonal allergies, similar to anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen.
Bromelain also has properties that may reduce the body's sensitivity to certain allergens, making it less likely to overreact when exposed. But if you're allergic to pineapples, avoid this remedy, as bromelain can cause an allergic reaction.
Likewise, people who take blood thinners or have diabetes, high blood pressure, or liver disease should check with their doctor before trying this home remedy.
Research has shown that stinging nettle leaves can naturally control histamines, which cause allergy symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. The leaves contain certain compounds that act like antihistamines in the body, helping reduce common allergy symptoms. It's recommended to be used in teas or tincture form, especially in homeopathic remedies, as it tastes bitter.
However, stinging nettle should not be taken while pregnant or nursing. Likewise, people with kidney diseases should avoid this remedy. Additionally, if you plan on using it topically, you must use gloves to avoid its stinging properties.
Certain herbs, such as butterbur and turmeric, have been traditionally used to relieve allergy symptoms. Butterbur may help alleviate some seasonal allergy symptoms such as sneezing and runny nose for some people.
The medicinal properties of turmeric can reduce mucus production and inflammation associated with allergies due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is often used in tea form or taken as a supplement.
Other herbs that may help with mild allergy symptoms include:
- Stinging nettle
- Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)
- Reishi mushrooms
- Horehound (Marrubium vulgare)
- Perilla (Perilla frutescens)
- Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)
Risks and Side Effects
While natural allergy home remedies are generally considered safe, it's important to be aware of potential risks and side effects. Here are some considerations:
Although rare, it's possible to be allergic or sensitive to natural substances used in home remedies. For example, certain herbs, essential oils, or plant extracts may trigger allergic reactions in some individuals. So ensure to perform patch tests and use caution when trying new remedies, especially if you have a known allergy to specific substances.
Interactions With Medications
Some herbs, supplements, or home remedies may interfere with the effectiveness or metabolism of certain medications you may be taking. So consult a healthcare professional if you're taking prescription medications to ensure there are no potential interactions.
Lack of Scientific Evidence
Many natural remedies lack extensive scientific research or have limited evidence supporting their efficacy. While anecdotal evidence and traditional knowledge may suggest benefits, it's essential to be cautious and not rely solely on unproven remedies without consulting a healthcare professional.
Incorrect Usage or Dosage
Improper usage or dosage of natural remedies can lead to adverse effects. It's important to follow instructions carefully and use appropriate dosages. Some natural substances may be toxic or harmful if misused.
Delay in Seeking Appropriate Medical Care
Relying solely on natural remedies without seeking professional medical advice may result in a delay in receiving appropriate treatment for severe allergic reactions or underlying medical conditions.
If you have severe or persistent allergy symptoms, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and management.
Quality and Contamination Concerns
The quality and purity of natural remedies can vary. Contamination, incorrect labeling, or low-quality products may pose risks. Choose reputable brands and sources to ensure the safety and efficacy of the natural remedies you use.
Do Natural Allergy Treatments Work?
The question remains a subject of debate. Natural remedies, such as herbal supplements, acupuncture, and dietary changes, are often sought as alternatives to conventional medications due to their perceived safety and minimal side effects. However, scientific evidence supporting their efficacy is limited and inconclusive.
While some individuals report positive outcomes, placebo effects, and subjective experiences can cloud objective assessment.
It’s crucial to consult healthcare professionals, consider individual variations in response, and prioritize evidence-based interventions. Natural allergy treatments may offer relief for some, but their effectiveness should be approached with caution and further research.
Alongside home remedies, there are also alternative treatments that some individuals may consider for managing their allergies. These encompass a range of traditional therapies, such as OTC medications and prescription drugs, as well as allergy immunotherapy.
Let’s explore these treatments below:
OTC medications are readily accessible without a prescription and can temporarily help alleviate mild to moderate allergy symptoms. From antihistamines and eye drops to decongestants and nasal sprays, these medications can help alleviate allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and runny nose, leaving you feeling better.
For severe allergies or when OTC treatments fail to provide adequate relief, prescription medications may be necessary. These may include nasal corticosteroids, leukotriene inhibitors, and immunomodulators, depending on your specific condition and needs.
Allergy immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy, is a long-term treatment that aims to desensitize the immune system to specific allergens. It involves regular exposure to small doses of an allergen and is typically administered over three to five years. This therapy helps reduce symptoms and can provide long-lasting relief, even after discontinuation.
How to Get Long-Term Allergy Treatment at Home?
One of the best at-home long-term allergy treatments is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). SLIT is a form of immunotherapy that involves administering small doses of allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, mold, or pet dander, in the form of drops or tablets under the tongue.
Over time, this exposure desensitized the immune system, helping it become less reactive to these allergens, thus reducing allergy symptoms.
The allergens used in SLIT are specifically chosen based on an individual's specific allergies. The treatment starts with a build-up phase, during which the allergen dose is gradually increased, and a maintenance dose is continued for an extended period, typically several years.
Take Our Allergy Assessment & Get Treatment Today
If you're looking for long-term relief from your allergies, Wyndly can help. Our doctors will identify what you’re allergic to and create a personalized treatment plan to get you long-term relief. Take our quick online allergy assessment today to see how Wyndly can help you live allergy-free!