If you’re like me, you’ve gone through a host of self-help treatments to tame your allergies and asthma. Allergens can be seasonal or unfortunately, a regional issue. They can also be circumstantial (i.e. Fido and his beautiful shaggy fur), a food allergy, or the dusty corner office you have yet to vacate. If you’ve tried over-the-counter products to no avail, trust me… you want to invest in a permanent solution. There are many options available. The trick is finding the right one for you.
- Try a Sinus Rinse/ Netti Pot. You can find them at any local convenience store such as Wal-mart, CVS, or Walgreens. Salt nasal rinse packets are included in most starter sets and available in relatively cheap prepackaged packets at the same location. Alternatively, some people mix their own ingredients to create even cheaper salt sinus rinse mixes but be careful that the recipe is genuine. Be sure to follow the directions on the box and clean your rinse frequently. Overuse can dry out your nasal passages (an allergy specialist can recommend the number of times you should use it per day based on your own history. You may need to increase use during especially difficult pollen seasons).
- Salt water nasal spray can be your friend. Again, this is very inexpensive and can be bought most anywhere. Also, it’s great for when you cannot bring your sinus rinse or Netti Pot with you when you travel. You can use it multiple times a day since it is natural. My doctor even suggested using it when I fly.
- Try an air purifier to rid the pollens from your environment. They come in all shapes, sizes, and grades. Keep them at multiple locations. They even have purifiers for your car though I have not used them personally.
- Use common sense. It goes without saying to leave your shoes outside, bathe pets, and clean regularly. Avoid carpet in the home. Wash your hair once you are home for the day. Don’t do outdoor activities during peak pollen hours. Blow your nose when you come in from outside.
- A sinus pad can be heated in the microwave to ease sinus pressure pain. Although it isn’t a preventative it can make a difference when you are suffering. I reheat mine several times within the course of an hour and it helps ease my migraine headaches like nothing else. Essentially, you can use any pad that has plastic beads or rice inside of it. They are cheap to buy or you can make your own out of socks and rice. Caution: the pad heats quickly and can burn.
- Subscribe to a free pollen count alert on e-mail to help you pre-plan your activities and avoid the pain. You can even push the alerts to your smart phone for easy notification.
- A humidifier is worth a shot. It depends on who you talk to but I have one and given how hardcore my asthma is being, it can actually help. Add drops as directed for relief and leave it running during the night. Humidifiers and drops are sold at nearly any pharmacy location for a decent price.
- Use natural properties like essential oils Eucalyptus and Peppermint. Be cautious what oils you use (100% grade only) and consult a guide for proper use. I instantly noticed a difference with my breathing and allergies just by sniffing the bottle. After 10-20 minutes of using the diffuser with the essential oils, my sinus headaches were gone or improved drastically. You can use essential oils treatment on a handkerchief, by rubbing it onto effected areas, putting it in a bath, or using a diffuser. The best part is it’s all natural.
13. Use Mentholatum creams on your sinuses and chest. Some people swear that placing Mentholatum on the bottoms of your feet at night helps them breathe easier (wear socks so the cream doesn’t ruin your bed sheets). I use Mentholatum on my sinuses for bad headaches and depending upon the severity, it can help.
14. Place Eucalyptus in your shower (yes, the real kind). Italians still use it. They hang it up in showers. When the steam hits the eucalyptus leaves, it helps decongest your sinuses and viola. You breathe easier. You’re welcome.
15. Sinus pressure points. There is actually a movement to inform people about sinus pressure points and how to “activate” them in their favor. I know, it sounds like a quack invented it. I tried it a few times and it didn’t work for me but I know someone else who swears it helped her.
16. Acupuncture. I’ve tried acupuncture and instead of helping me it was an uncomfortable experience. To each his own.
17. Himalayan Salt has been used for centuries to treat asthma. I’m waiting on my salt inhaler as I write this. There are travel-sized versions, plastic, and porcelain. You can also buy refill Himalayan salt. It’s supposed to be an alternative to a prescription inhaler (much cheaper). Alternatively, my chiropractor recommends Himalayan Salt lamps which do the same thing. It’s like breathing in salty air at the sea to bring relief.
18. Try local honey. I only use local honey which hosts local pollens to help build my immune system. I put it in a cuppa tea and add a little lemon every day (plus, for singers like myself it is a religious rite). Check the labels on honey. Majority are not local or are not even honey! There are other options when it comes to using honey to boost the immune system against allergies.
18. Visit your local allergy specialist. He/ she will ask you a series of questions and given your background history and the severity of your trouble, will do testing (be sure to check with your insurance before the testing). The allergy test often involves plastic needles doused with potential threats to your overactive immune system. It’s quick, painless, and professionals should be with you throughout the testing period. If you have adverse reactions, they will help you. Not to worry. Your results often happen within a few minutes and it’s an eye-opening experience.
19. Depending upon what you are allergic to, your allergy specialist will recommend a specific course of treatment. It may be a steroid/ antibiotic nasal spray or inhalers to use in addition to your usual routine or prescription medication. Listen to your doctor.
20. The next step would be allergy shots. There’s no need to be scared! Some people see great improvement after the first round of allergy shots (scheduled so many days apart from each other to prevent adverse reactions). And, you should be prescribed an Epi-Pen in case you drive home after waiting the allotted time period at the doctor’s office and have an allergic reaction away from the doctor. If you do have an allergic reaction, do what your doctor suggests and go to the hospital.
21. If you’re like me and allergy shots still don’t solve your continuous struggle, your doctor may prescribe a sinus/ rhinoplasty surgery to permanently fix your issue if it is related to the structure of your sinus cavities. I can tell you from experience, it is a very painful surgery (mine was 3 in 1) and breathing is difficult during recovery but then again, you’re used to that anyway, right?
22. And last, but certainly not least: avoid your allergy/ asthma triggers! As my allergy specialist said, it would be best to move since what I am most allergic to is native to this area. If you can’t move, good luck.