There’s so much to love about spring: the warmer weather, the longer daylight hours, and the flowers finally starting to bloom again. But springtime also means that allergy season is back. Spring pollen is here in full force, triggering allergy symptoms for millions of people.
You want to enjoy this beautiful season without allergy symptoms, and we don’t blame you. Luckily, there are plenty of methods out there to treat allergies, from prescription medications to over-the-counter antihistamines to natural remedies. The DIY options are a great place to start, or if you’re already taking allergy medications, consider these as a second line of defense to alleviate and prevent those pesky symptoms.
What are Seasonal Allergies?
Allergies are a fact of life for around 50 million Americans, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. People can be allergic to all kinds of foods, plants, and substances, and the severity of allergic symptoms really varies from person to person.
Seasonal allergies occur when your immune system reacts to something in the environment like pollen, grass, or mold. Since spring is the time of year when most trees and flowers are blooming, it’s also the time of year when pollen and plant spores are most prevalent in the air.
Here’s what happens:
- As you breathe in the environmental trigger, it sets off alarm bells in your immune system.
- Your body starts rapidly producing immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in response to the allergen.
- From then on, every time you encounter that type of pollen or mold, your immune cells begin the release of histamines (a chemical compound that is part of your body’s inflammatory response).
This is what causes those characteristic symptoms like runny nose, itchy/watery eyes, and sneezing.
Symptoms & Causes
Everyone’s body reacts differently to allergic triggers, so your allergy symptoms may vary in type or intensity. But for most people, seasonal allergy symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes, nose, or mouth
- Watery eyes
- Constant sneezing or urge to sneeze
- Stuffy nose and congestion
As you can imagine, these symptoms can wreak havoc on your daily life. People with seasonal allergies often have trouble sleeping due to nasal congestion, leading to chronic fatigue and exhaustion.
Allergies can also make spending time outside feel like torture, which severely limits your social life and ability to go on walks and get fresh air.
Seasonal allergy triggers vary, but the most common culprits are pollen, grass, and mold. You may also notice that your allergies are different depending on which area of the country you live in. (For instance, if you recently moved from the Northwest to the Southeast and your allergies got way worse, it’s because your environment has changed.) Causes of seasonal allergies include:
- Tree pollen
- Grass pollen
- Mold spores
- Pet dander or dust mites (which can be year-round)
Home Remedies for Seasonal Allergies
Simple lifestyle adjustments can go a long way toward alleviating seasonal allergies and improving your health. Of course, it also helps to see a medical provider who can talk to you about your health care options, including prescription medication, allergy shots, or decongestants to help you get some sleep. At K Health, we offer immediate access to doctors who can diagnose your allergies and develop a treatment plan for you—all for the fixed rate of $19 per session or $9 per month for continued care.
Along with seeking medical advice, try these at-home options to cure your seasonal allergies:
Allergy symptoms get worse when you’re dehydrated, so be proactive about drinking water all day, every day. The usual recommended amount is eight glasses per day, but you may need more if you spent time in the heat or did a sweaty workout.
You can buy saline solution over the counter or make your own. Once your solution is ready, you irrigate your nostrils one at a time using a nasal bulb, neti pot, or other nasal irrigation device you can pick up at the drugstore (just be careful not to get the nasal spray solution in your ears or throat). This can help flush allergens out of your nasal passages and clear your sinuses.
Air purifiers can be an expensive investment, but they’re worth it if you live in a household with one or more allergy sufferers. These devices work by filtering the indoor air and removing dust particles, pollen particles, or other allergens floating around in your space.
If you have an air conditioning unit in your home, make sure it’s equipped with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) filter to trap microscopic particles and keep them from getting indoors. And remember to replace your air filters every few months, especially during peak allergy season.
The idea behind consuming local honey for allergy symptoms is that you can acclimate your body to the pollen present in your area by eating local honey. There is not strong evidence for this activity, and you should make sure you’re buying from a brand made in the same region of the country where you live.
Vitamin C can help strengthen your immune system, which has the added benefit of providing allergy relief. Taken at the extreme, one 2018 study showed that intravenous (IV) vitamin C helped significantly decrease allergy symptoms. For at-home consumption, try vitamin C supplements or citrus fruits like orange, grapefruit, and lime.
Probiotic supplements or fermented foods help populate your gut with healthy bacteria, and they also support your immune system. Multiple probiotic strains have been studied for the treatment of allergic rhinitis, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Herbal tea or supplements
Various herbal remedies have been used for treatment of allergy symptoms, including butterbur, turmeric, and nettle leaf. Again, the evidence is not strong but some studies have shown benefit. You can buy them as supplements, extracts, powders, or tea.
Essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus oil, peppermint, chamomile, and lemongrass can be used for seasonal allergy symptoms. You can place a few drops in your bath, use the oil on a dryer ball with your laundry, or make homemade candles or body creams.
The research on the effectiveness of acupuncture for allergy relief is not strong—some studies have shown a moderate reduction in allergy symptoms among patients who tried this alternative medicine procedure, while other studies have been inconclusive.
Apple cider vinegar
You’ve probably heard apple cider vinegar touted as a “miracle cure” for everything from cold symptoms to digestive discomfort. It does have anti-inflammatory effects on the immune system, meaning it might be helpful in reducing seasonal allergy symptoms. Try mixing one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into a glass of water with a dash of lemon juice.
They say prevention is the best medicine, and that’s definitely true with seasonal allergies—the more you can avoid allergy triggers in the first place, the less aggressively you’ll have to treat them. Try these at-home modifications to allergy-proof your home.
Keep windows closed on windy days
We’re not saying you should totally shut out the outside world (there’s nothing better than birdsong on a sunny morning), but watch the weather for days when pollen counts are at their highest. Try staying indoors or at least keeping your windows closed on those days so allergens don’t get inside your house.
Shower before bed
Make it a ritual to take a warm shower before hopping into bed each night. This keeps your sleeping environment clean so you’re not breathing in pollen during the night. (PS: Washing your sheets once a week helps with this, too!)
Schedule regular house cleaning
Set a goal to clean your home weekly during allergy season. Keep your bathroom free of mold, wash or dust fabric surfaces, and vacuum carpets and rugs. Oh, and another quick pro tip—wear a mask while cleaning to minimize your contact with dust mites.
How K Health Can Help
K Health provides a simple, accessible option for allergies treatment. Chat with a doctor on your phone to determine whether you indeed have allergies, and get a prescription sent straight to your pharmacy, all for just $19.
Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Allergy Facts and Figures. (n.d.) https://www.aafa.org/allergy-facts/
Allergic Rhinitis. (n.d.) https://acaai.org/allergies/types/hay-fever-rhinitis
Seasonal Allergies at a Glance. (n.d.) https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/seasonal-allergies-at-a-glance
Saline Sinus Rinse Recipe. (n.d.) https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/saline-sinus-rinse-recipe
Intravenous vitamin C in the treatment of allergies: an interim subgroup analysis of a long-term observational study. (2018). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6136002/
Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis with Probiotics: An Alternative Approach. (2013). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3784923/
Acupuncture in allergic rhinitis. (2014). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4479426/
Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. (2018). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/