Tips For Surviving Allergy Season

Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping and the bright, warm sun is shining. Finally, the long-awaited spring season is upon us! Springtime is a beautiful time of rebirth and renewal, but for those of us allergic to pollen, it’s the most dreaded, miserable time of the year - the pollen apocalypse. How can we stop to smell the roses if our sinuses are clogged shut? How can we appreciate the ethereal hue of the cherry blossoms if our eyes are crusted shut? It stinks when headaches, congestion and itchy skin and eyes prevent us from basking in the lovely glory of spring. While I certainly don’t discourage the use of antihistamines (I took a double dose of Benadryl this morning), here are some quick and easy more natural ways to enhance your springtime experience. Don’t let that nasty pollen get you down! 

  1. 1. Eat Local Honey

    I know this sounds counterintuitive - me telling you to ingest the product of the main perpetrators of your affliction. Research shows that a pollen allergy can be battled, or even eliminated entirely by building an immunity! Just like the concept behind vaccines, injecting a small amount of the virus to create antibodies for immunity, pollen immunity is facilitated by exposing your body to small amounts of pollen gradually. Does this mean you should start licking pollen off flowers? No! Please don’t do that. I promise you that if you start adding a daily dose of locally-made honey to your tea or toast, you will start noticing a difference. Make sure it’s local though because that is the key here. If you travel outside the Richmond area, you’ll still have allergy symptoms, but at least you can build a line of defense against your hometown bees! Ellwood Thompson’s, Strawberry Street Market and even Kroger all sell locally-sourced honey products!  

  2. 2. Change Your Air Filters

    Since this was likely a chore that your parents were responsible for when you lived under their roof, it’s common for young people who have recently moved out to not be aware that this is an important thing to stay on top of. Most ductless air conditioners, like the window A/C units that are found in older homes and apartments, come with reusable air filters that should be cleaned at least every two months with a vacuum. If your home has central air, then there should be at least one large, square vent somewhere on the wall or ceiling and likely multiple if your house or apartment building is newer. If you remove the grate on the filter, you will find a white filter inside. If it’s gray or black, that means you need to change it! Most HVAC companies recommend changing your vent filters every two to three months, but if you have pets and/or live in an urban area with lots of pollutants, you should change it once a month. A fresh air filter can make a world of difference during allergy season because you certainly want your indoor air to be a clean reprieve from the stifling pollen clouds right outside your door. You can buy these at Walmart, any home improvement store or even off of Amazon!

  3. 3. Invest in a Humidifier

    Even with brand new air filters in the vents, the ancient homes and apartment buildings of Richmond struggle to circulate breathable air. Even with my window closed, safe inside from the pollen, I still used to wake up every spring day stuffier than I was the night before - until I got a humidifier! The moisture in the air will keep your sinuses passages from drying out overnight, preventing congestion from building up. I recommend adding a few drops of cleansing citrus essential oil for good measure!

  4. 4. Shower in The Morning

    During every other season of the year, I usually shower at night because it’s easiest for me. However, during the pollening, I’ve found that it’s definitely worth it to switch up my routine for the time being. A hot, steamy shower is the perfect remedy on those crusty, stuffy mornings. Sometimes, when I don’t have time to shower or don’t feel the need to, I’ll just run the water really hot and create my own little sauna. The steam clears me out and gets me feeling ready for the day while I can multitask by doing my hair and makeup. I only recommend this if your water utility is included in your rent - if not, save that cash and skip to the tip below!

  5. 5. No Time to Shower? Try a Hot Washcloth

    Let’s be real - when it’s Monday morning and you roll over to see that you have less than ten minutes to get to your first class, taking a shower is not a plausible option. When I’m short on time, I just run a washcloth under hot water and lay it on my face for a few minutes. Added bonus: using a clean, hot compress cleanses your pores and brightens your skin!