Tips on how to survive the allergy season:
The most common allergies in the spring are hay fever (pollen from e.g. ryegrass, canary, wild oat grass and casuarina trees) and moulds. Although dust mites are all year round, the ideal conditions for their growth are 25ºC and 75% relative humidity making the South Coast a perfect dwelling place. Here are some suggestions to decrease exposure to allergens.
Wash sheets, mattress covers, pillow cases and curtains weekly in water hotter than 55oC. This will kill dust mites and wash away the allergen they produce. Reduce dust mites by covering mattress, pillow and quilt with dust mite resistant covers. The covers must be washed every 2 months. If you cannot wash them in hot water, use a commercial product with essential oils formulated to kill dust mites in cold water. Tumble drying items for 10 minutes after normal washing will also kill dust mites.
· Consider replacing carpets with hard floors. Use throw rugs instead as you can wash them.
· Consider replacing heavy curtains with Venetian blinds or flat blinds as they are easier to clean.
· Expose mattresses to sunlight for several hours (but beware of high pollen count on the day)
· Remove sheepskin or woollen underlays.
· Remove all soft toys from the bed and bedroom. If this is not possible, wash them on a regular basis. If they are too big, freeze them in a plastic bag for 24-48 hours to kill the mites, but this will not remove allergens.
· Leave your shoes at the door so you do not track outside allergens around the house.
· Keep pet dander low by giving your pets a regular bath.
· Use a damp or electrostatic cloth to clean hard surfaces weekly.
· Clean your air by using an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove allergens from the air. Use a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner and vacuum weekly. Beware that the amount of house dust mite allergens in the air will increase for up to 20 minutes.
· Although pollen is known to be blown long distances on windy days, most pollen is deposited within a short distance of its source. The peak pollen season is between late September and Christmas. Keep your windows shut during peak pollen periods. Pollen counts are usually highest between 6am and noon.
Use a dehumidifier to decrease the level of indoor dust mite and mould. Avoid water cooled air conditioners as they release water into the air.
· Wash hands and face frequently to stop contact with eyes, mouth and nose. Washing your hair at night washes out the allergens trapped in your hair from landing on your pillow and being inhaled while you are sleeping.
Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS), also known as Pollen Food Syndrome (PFS), usually happens in people who are allergic to pollen from trees, grasses or weeds. It has been shown that pollens from trees, grasses and weeds contain proteins of similar structure to those present in many different fruits, vegetables, nuts and even spices. These proteins, which have essential roles in plant growth and defence against disease, are recognised by the immune system of a hay fever sufferer, and can trigger an allergic reaction in a susceptible person. This condition therefore usually affects people who get spring or summertime hay fever, but can occur in people who do not have hay fever but test positive to pollen.·
If the allergen is ragweed pollen, consuming cucumber, banana, melon, watermelon, zucchini, pumpkin may trigger an allergic reaction. If the allergen is birch pollen, consuming apple, pear, cherry, peach, and plum may cause an allergic reaction. Plantain grass pollen is common and people may react if they consume melon, watermelon, tomato, orange and kiwi fruit.
Allergy symptoms could still occur even with everything above in place. Here are a few tips on ways to treat allergy symptoms:
1. Antihistamine tablets and syrups– work by blocking a natural substance in your body called histamine. This is released by your immune system during an allergic reaction.
2. Nasal sprays such as Rhinocort®, Nasonex® and Beconase® – work by reducing and controlling the inflammation that cause nasal blockage and the other symptoms of hayfever.
3. Nasal saline irrigation – cleansing the nasal passages with saline is very effective in washing out pollen and mucus.
4. Use natural antihistamine products that contain Quercetin and Vitamin C.
5. Horseradish, fenugreek, marshmallow and garlic have traditionally been used for the relief of hayfever. Horseradish contains mustard oils which are thought to have a decongestant effect. Fenugreek and marshmallow act as demulcents which help to soothe inflamed mucous membranes. Garlic has anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties
6. Drink lots of water, natural teas and juices to keep the mucus moving.
7. Probiotics are a helpful option. Allergies are the result of your immune system reacting with allergens. Probiotics help balance your beneficial intestinal bacteria that keep your immune system strong.