For those who suffer from allergies, fall can be miserable. As nighttime temperatures begin to decline, ragweed begins to release its pollen. According to WebMD, 75 percent of those who are allergic to spring plants will also experience reactions to ragweed. Even if there is no ragweed around your home, you can have an allergic reaction because the pollen from ragweed can travel hundreds of miles. In addition to ragweed allergies, sufferers may experience fall allergies due to mold and dust mites.
Fall Allergy Symptoms
The symptoms of fall allergies are similar to those of other seasonal allergies. When you come into contact with an allergen, your immune system releases histamine to counteract the allergen. This can lead to a plethora of symptoms, including watery, swollen or red eyes (conjunctivitis), sneezing, rash, headache, runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, coughing, fatigue, congestion and dark circles under the eyes. These symptoms occur when the immune system overreacts to an allergen.
Reducing Your Exposure
The best way to avoid fall allergies is to avoid triggers. Unfortunately, it can be difficult. The following tips can help you reduce your exposure to fall allergens.
- Keeping your windows at home closed and using air conditioning
- Use a high-efficiency filter and change it regularly to help eliminate allergens in your home
- Use a dehumidifier to help keep indoor air dry
- Use a HEPA air purifier to remove pollen particulates from the air
- Vacuum and sweep your floors often to minimize exposure to allergens
- Keep the windows in your car rolled up to reduce your exposure
- Wear a pollen mask and use of sunglasses can help decrease your exposure to fall allergens
- If you must go outdoors, do so in the morning and keep track of pollen levels by visiting The National Allergy Bureau.
- When you return indoors, take a shower and change your clothing to minimize exposure
Vitamins, Enzymes, Herbs and Flavonoids to Help Improve Allergy Symptoms
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and antihistamine that provides immune enhancing nutrients an allergy sufferer needs. Taking a daily dose of vitamin C can help decrease inflammation and nasal drainage.
- Taking quercetin in conjunction with vitamin C can further enhance the effectiveness of vitamin C. Quercetin helps to stabilize the membranes of mast cells and prevents the release of histamine.
- Bromelain contains natural enzymes that can help reduce nasal swelling and thin mucus. It also enhances the body’s ability to absorb Quercetin.
- MSM helps block the receptivity of histamines in the mucous membranes, which helps to prevent inflammation, fluid build-up and swelling often experienced by allergy sufferers.
- Stinging Nettle works as an effective antihistamine and helps lower inflammation caused by allergic rhinitis.
- The amino acid N-Acetyl L-Cysteine helps to reduce the viscosity of mucus in an allergy sufferer.
These vitamins, minerals, herbs, flavonoids and amino acids can be combined to help build your body’s natural defense system, decrease swelling and inflammation in the nasal passages and provide support to allergy sufferers.
Foods That May Increase Nasal Congestion and Mucus Production
Nasal congestion occurs when the blood vessels in the nasal tissues become inflamed. This often results in excess mucus production. There are a number of foods that can increase inflammation and cause further nasal congestion when you are suffering from allergies. Check out these foods that should be avoided when you are suffering from fall allergies.
- Dairy Products – Dairy products contain a mucus forming agent called casein. Casein is glue-like and can increase nasal congestion and mucus production in allergy sufferers.
- Refined Sugars – Sugars can cause inflammation in the body. When this inflammation occurs, the body automatically produces more mucus to counteract the inflammation.
- Meats – Meats, especially red meats, can cause excess mucus production which can cause nasal congestion.
- Tofu and Soy Products – The products can increase mucus build-up and can overload the mucous membranes in the body.
- Salt – Too much salt can lead to edema in the body, including the nasal passages.
- Peanut Butter – Peanut butter is one of the most mucus forming foods. This can lead to increased congestion and headaches in allergy sufferers.
Foods that Decrease Congestion
Did you know that the foods you eat can affect your nasal allergies? If you are looking to decrease congestion naturally, take a look at the following list of foods to decrease mucus production and allow you to breathe easier. These can help to naturally alleviate your allergy symptoms.
- Antioxidant-rich foods such as celery, lettuce, turnips, kohlrabi, asparagus, radishes, papayas and turnips not only help improve the immune system, but help decrease mucus production.
- Omega-3 fatty acids offer anti-inflammatory properties which can help relieve many of your allergy symptoms. Great sources of omega-3 fatty acids include pumpkin, fatty fish and beans, such as Auki beans, kidney beans and pinto beans.
- Amaranth is a great alternative to grains that may cause a gluten allergy.
- Wild blue-green alga is high in protein and minerals. This alga helps to improve immunity in allergy sufferers
- White pepper contains capsaicin that helps to thin mucus and decrease nasal congestion in allergy sufferers.
- Vinegar, especially apple cider vinegar is loaded with antioxidants and helps remove toxins from the body. If you suffer from allergies and want to naturally reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, check out the benefits of apple cider vinegar.
- Valerian root and chamomile are often used to help with insomnia. When you sleep poorly, your body cannot heal itself properly. Taking a daily dose of either of these herbs can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, including nasal passages.
- Local honey can help you become less sensitive to the pollens found in your area. This is especially beneficial to those who suffer from fall allergies to ragweed and other types of pollen that naturally occurs in the fall.
- Essential Oils such as lemon, peppermint and lavender help unclog sinuses and drain the lymphatic system. These essential oils also provide naturally occurring antihistamines to lower the symptoms of fall allergies.
During the fall, a plethora of allergy causing pollens, dust mites and molds are present. Learning how to minimize your exposure to these allergens and how to eat to decrease nasal congestion can help fall become more bearable.
About Elizabeth McMillan
Elizabeth McMillan, MS, CNS is a board certified nutritionist at Rose Wellness Center in Oakton, Virginia. She places a strong emphasis on the relationship between our food choices, lifestyle, and integrative wellness. Elizabeth specializes in diabetes, food sensitivities, gastrointestinal health, autoimmunity, hormone imbalances in men and women, and other metabolic complications.