What to do about those pesky allergies?

Though we’re headed into winter, some in San Francisco continue to experience allergy symptoms and we want to help.

Allergies are skewed immunologic reactions to environmental triggers and typically involve inflammation of the nasal passages and eyes. For those with an asthma diagnosis, environmental allergies may be an asthma trigger.

Typical allergy symptoms include:  stuffy/sniffly nose, nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing and irritated or itchy eyes.

Springtime allergies are most often triggered by tree pollens from Mulberry, Sycamore and Oak, whereas summertime allergies are most often caused by grass pollens. (Check the local pollen forecast at: http://www.weather.com/health/pollen/forecast/USCA0987)

Tips for Preventing Allergies:

  • Clean air at home: Avoid carpeting and blinds that tend to collect lots of dust. Ventilate your home and use an air filter such as HEPA to reduce dust and allergens from floating around. Remove shoes before entering your home to reduce the amount of outdoor allergens that are tracked inside.
  • Spring cleaning our noses: Use a Neti pot or similar device to irrigate nasal passages with saline, or use simply use a saline nasal spray such as  Xlear. Washing away allergens is a simple, safe and effective way to prevent them from triggering symptoms in the first place. Also, encourage your kids to rinse their faces, especially focusing on eyebrows and eyelashes, when they come home from being outdoors.
  • Taking care of our guts: More than 70% of the immune system is located in our intestinal tracts so it really is important to eat a healthy diet of whole, preferably organic, unprocessed foods. Eat a rainbow: colorful vegetables and fruits contain antioxidants that naturally reduce inflammation and support the immune system. There is evidence that boosting health-promoting gut bugs by supplementation with probiotics and consumption of fermented veggies (like sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi) can reduce the incidence of allergies: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3784923/. Additionally, some find that elimination of dairy products is the key to successful elimination of chronically stuffy nose and post-nasal drip.

Tips for Treating Allergies:

  • Conventional medical treatment: Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (active ingredient in Benadryl), loratadine (Claritin) or cetirizine (Zyrtec) can help alleviate symptoms but can also cause side effects such as dry mouth and drowsiness. Diphenhydramine causes the most drowsiness, although some children have a paradoxical reaction, which means they become agitated rather than sleepy. Another conventional treatment is steroid nasal spray, such as Nasonex or Flonase, which may also be prescribed if there is nasal congestion that causes snoring or difficulty breathing at night.
  • Alternatives to pharmaceuticals: Quercetin, a natural substance called a flavonoid that’s found in small amounts in apples and onions, has powerful antihistamine/anti-inflammatory properties. Taking vitamin C at the same time helps to potentiate quercetin. Another non-pharma option is Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples that has anti-inflammatory properties and can be helpful in thinning mucus and clearing sinus congestion. Stinging nettle is an example of an herb that can help with allergy symptoms (although it isn’t safe for pregnant women because it can induce contractions). One product that contains all four of these ingredients is D-Hist and D-HistJr. We’re carrying a new product called AllQlear and people are raving. It contains a natural ingredient from quail egg that stabilizes histamine-containing mast cells responsible for all the typical allergy symptoms: tearing, sneezing, itchy and runny nose. 
  • Homeopathy: Boiron’s Sabidil, as well as their eye solution product, Optique, can be helpful with general allergy symptoms and eye irritation and both are for sale in the office.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a customized plan to fit your child’s unique needs. We want to help you and your kids enjoy the outdoors free from annoying allergy symptoms!