Judson Haims: Spring’s foreign substances are starting to wreak havoc
Special to The Aspen Times
Summer is nearing and people throughout the community are itching to get outside. But beware — there are nefarious substances that have been lying dormant all winter and are now starting to blossom.
Allergy season is already underway this year and it is looking like it’s going to be a nasty one. As the sun starts to warm and melt the snow, pollens are starting to dry and the wind is going to disperse them everywhere. Allergy sufferers should be particularly aware: high winds in the valley will have you sneezing and may cause concerns with your throat and eyes. In some cases, respiratory problems may also develop.
Most people who suffer from allergies experience some of the worst symptoms as springtime occurs. Here in our valley, spring’s onset is usually just a few weeks away. However, with changing weather conditions and our early onset of warmer weather, spring has already sprung.
One of the best ways people can be proactive in mitigating daily and seasonal allergies is to be diligent about keeping the nasal cavity as clear as possible. Second to this may be starting to take allergy medication early in the season (like now) before symptoms become problematic. Once you start having symptoms, remedy often takes longer.
While many people may not like the idea of using a nasal wash, it should be noted that they can prove to be a very effective means to addressing allergies. Not only do nasal washes clean mucus from the nose (making medications more effective), but they also can reduce the impact of allergens and irritants. Additionally, nasal washes may help decrease infections by cleaning out bacteria and viruses from the nose.
Here in our mountain communities, some of the biggest culprits of allergies are aspen and cottonwood trees, sagebrush and ragweed, in addition to junipers and pine trees.
Treatments for common seasonal allergies
Should you choose to use a nasal wash, you can make your own saline rinse, or you can buy a commercially made product such as NeilMed. If you chose to make your own saline rinse and use a neti pot for delivery, please make sure you do it properly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should use distilled water to avoid bacterial contamination. DO NOT use tap or well water that has not been sterilized properly. In order to make your own saline rinse, you should boil water for at least three minutes. To make the rinse, mix one-half teaspoon noniodized salt and a pinch (small pinch) of baking soda in an 8-ounce glass of water. Used once or twice a day, they can help to keep seasonal allergies at bay.
There are other natural options
There are many natural allergy relief remedies you can try before using over-the-counter or prescribed medications. However, before trying any natural remedy, it may be very beneficial to modify your diet. Some of the best ingredients you can incorporate into your daily diet include leafy greens (spinach, watercress, kale, collard greens, romaine, and arugula), garlic, lemons and lemon water, and local honey (bee pollen).
Quercetin is a natural supplement that is known for its antioxidant activity and is naturally found in plant foods. It is a bioflavonoid that stabilizes the release of histamines and helps to naturally control allergy symptoms by suppressing inflammatory mediators. Research also shows that Quercetin helps the immune system, antiviral activity, and decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines (proteins that are produced by cells to regulate the body’s response to disease, infection, and immune responses).
D-Hist, a product made by Ortho Molecular, may be found at local pharmacies. If you cannot find it, contact the Vail Valley pharmacy in Edwards or look online. D-Hist is a natural and very effective supplement mix. Each capsule combines some of the most effective histamine-healing remedies such as quercetin, stinging nettles leaf, N-acetyl cysteine, bromelain and vitamin C. For people who get drowsy from traditional allergy medications, you may appreciate that this product does not cause drowsiness.
Over the Counter options
Should you not find relief from natural options, an over-the-counter option may be a nasal spray like Flonase. Flonase not only assists in reducing swelling, it also works to block the effects of substances that cause allergies. It does not reverse the effects of what is already going on so it is most effective when taken in advance of an allergy onset and should be used throughout the allergy season.
In the event every other option has not worked, there is always traditional products like Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra.
Allergies are due to hypersensitivity of the immune system that causes the release of damaging histamines. If you want to help preventing allergic reactions, you need to be proactive in addition to limit your exposure to allergens.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Aspen, Basalt, and Carbondale. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. His contact information is http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526 or 970-328-5526.