The Ides of March are upon us in Pinellas County, Florida! While March brings us some of the most pleasant weather of the year, it also brings us all sorts of airborne allergens including pollens from grass, trees, and flowers; dust, mold, and spores. The body’s allergy response is designed to flush out these irritants. This innate response by the body also brings about the annoying symptoms of hay fever, also known as the health condition allergic rhinitis.
Palm Harbor Pharmacy has a number of remedies that can help tame seasonal allergy symptoms. Before we get to the remedies: Let’s learn a little bit more about the types of seasonal allergy symptoms, what causes the body to create them, and the many ways you can minimize allergy symptoms.
Common Allergy Symptoms
Whether you experience allergy symptoms seasonally or year-round, living with those symptoms is annoying, if not aggravating. If you suffer intensely, you can miss days from work or school. In fact, allergic rhinitis is the most commonly reported medical condition to U.S. employers. It accounts for a minimum of 3.5 days of missed work, too. the most common allergy symptoms include:
- stuffy nose
- runny nose
- watery eyes
- sinus pressure
- itchy nose, eyes, ears, or the roof of the mouth
Some people also experience fatigue, ear ache, and swelling or pressure around the eyes.
The Body’s Allergy Response: Antibodies & Histamines
Allergy symptoms are generated by a reaction within the immune system. The immune system produces antibodies in response to foreign substances that enter the body. When you have allergies, your immune system makes antibodies that identify a particular allergen—let’s use dandelion as an example—as harmful, even though it really isn’t a threat to the body When you come into contact with the allergen, the immune system reaction can cause inflammation of the skin, mucous membranes in the nose, throat and sinuses and in the airways in the lungs.
Mast cells, a special type of white blood cell, are another key player in the immune system response to allergens. Mast cells are found all around the body, especially near blood vessels, lymph nodes, in the lungs, skin, and in the intestines. One chemical found inside mast cells is histamine, which is released during an allergic reaction. In you have high levels of histamines in your body, you’ll get symptoms such as itching, redness, and inflammation. In excess, this is what produces the cluster of symptoms that we general think of when we talk about “having allergies.”
Most allergies can’t be cured; prevention and treatment can help minimize the effect of allergy symptoms on your daily activities..
Can I Prevent Allergy Symptoms?
Yes! Many people can prevent the symptoms of allergies IF they begin early enough in the year. This means starting on preventive strategies long before the first sneeze.
Prevention Tips for Before Allergy Symptoms Appear
- Detox the House: Well before February 1…Do a thorough cleaning of home and office.
It is helpful to wear a mask while cleaning out the nooks and crannies that have been neglected during the winter months. Remember to change the filter on your vacuum cleaner and clean out the attachments.
- Change home air filters and get a tune-up for the HVAC system. Use a high-quality HEPA filter. You may need to change the filters monthly during peak pollen months. Otherwise, they should be changed every 3 months or according to the product label.
- Change the air filters in your car. When you turn on the AC in your car do you sneeze? get itchy eyes? We often forget about them or skip this service. However, the air filters in your car trap allot of airborne irritants. And that can make breathing during your drive time a lot more comfortable. If you haven’t done it yet, change the air filters in your car ASAP.
- Wash Your Hands Often.As we all know very well by now, clean hands are essential to protecting your health. If you have been outdoors, don’t touch your eyes and clean your hands as soon as you are able.
- Change & Wash Clothes. When you come in from outdoors, remove clothing as soon as you come in from outdoors. Shower immediately to remove pollen from your hair and skin. To effectively remove allergens from your clothing, wash in hypoallergenic detergent and fabric softener. If your washing machine supports an allergen or sanitary cycle, use it.
- Change Bedding More Often. Not everyone changes the bed sheets often enough, which is usually once per week. In the winter months, you can get away with a bedding change every two weeks, but don’t go longer than that. In the spring, summer, and fall months, a weekly routine for washing the bed sheets is essential to minimizing allergy symptoms. It’s especially important to change and wash the pillow cases weekly. Not only does a weekly washing reduce allergens from outdoors, it also will to reduce the presence of dust mites (which love Florida’s warm, humid weather), dead skin cells, sweat, dirt, and body oil from your pillow. Now that’s the sheets, you also need to keep other types of bedding materials and your mattress free of allergens.
- Invest in a Hypoallergenic Pillow. Dust mite allergies are less common in the cool, dry climate of the northeast and far more common in the warm, humid southern states. So, Floridians…unless you like sleeping with dust mites, a hypoallergenic pillow is probably a wise investment for you.
Remedies for Allergy Symptoms
Once symptoms are present, the following tips can help you minimize the severity:
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day, every day. Proper hydration is important to every cell and every process in your body. Your body won’t be able to flush out allergens in mucous if you are dehydrated. Push the fluids: decaffeinated tea, plain water, unsweetened carbonated water, are best. If you must flavor your water, use citrus fruit slices, frozen berries, or an electrolyte tablet that can add a little “fizz and flavor” to your water.
- Use nutritional supplements to support immunity and a healthy histamine response. Some of these remedies can be started before symptoms appear. Others may be more appropriate once you start experiencing allergy symptoms. Check with you healthcare provider or a Palm Harbor Pharmacist to learn more about remedies such as quercetin, which acts to stabilize histamine production in the body.At Palm Harbor Pharmacy, you’ll find many products available to support a healthy histamine response and give you support for respiratory health and clear nasal passages. These products include:
- D-Hist for adults and D-Hist Jr. for kids provides support during allergy season
- Quercetin-Bromelain Forte for optimal histamine response and antioxidant power.
- BioFizz Immune is an effervescent formula providing immune support with quercetin, vitamin D, E, and other nutrients
- Immune Support Packets also support immunity with an abundance of vitamins including D, A, E, K, C and the mineral zinc
- Keep your home and car windows closed during peak season.
- Avoid being outdoors during peak pollen time. This includes windy days, and for humid areas like Palm Harbor, after a heavy rainfall. Monitor your local weather forecast for the most up-to-date information on pollen count and peak pollen times.
- Use a Sinus Therapy System such as the NasoNeb System available at Palm Harbor Pharmacy. NasoNeb System can deliver medication (prescription or over the counter remedies) dip into the sinuses. These systems can help with relief from allergies, sinus infection, and other sinus conditions.
Speak to Your Friendly Palm Harbor Pharmacist
If you’re uncertain about the type of over-the-counter remedies that will best support prevention and management of your allergy symptoms, you can obtain more personalized recommendations from one the friendly pharmacists at Palm Harbor Pharmacy. If your symptoms are severe, or you take other medications, it’s best to consult with your physician. Remember, your physician can coordinate prescription orders with one of our pharmacists for both standard or compounded medications, if needed, to address your allergy symptoms.
If the products mentioned in this article are of interest to you, contact our Palm Harbor pharmacists. We love to meet new customers and to see our regular customers, too. Stop in to see talk with us! We are also available by phone at 727-787-2273.
American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology: “Allergies”
Cancer.gov” “Mast Cells.” Posted to NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms.
Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Allergies and then Immune System.
SleepFoundation. “How Often Should You Change Your Sheets?”
New York Times: “Who Should Worry about Dust Mites (and Who Shouldn’t)”
CarCareNewsService.com: “Install a Fresh Cabin Air Filter before the Allergens Strike“