A Definitive Guide to Defeat Seasonal Pollen Allergies (My personal story) | Tips On How To Soothe Your Eyes & Nose

pollen this is what it looks like
pollen this is what it looks like

This is a mix of various pollen

I hate allergies. I have never been allergic to anything in my life (up to age 29), until last year. Then suddenly, one fateful evening in early May 2014, my eyes were red and itchy, my throat was sore and I was feeling feverish, flu like symptoms.

I went home, ate light dinner and went to bed. Next day I woke up and my eyes were still red and itchy. I did not have fever but my nose was slightly dripping and I was sneezing all day long.

This went on for a couple of days. At night, it used to get worst. I had trouble sleeping due congestion in my nose. I just could not breath form my nose anymore. Night time was the worse. I had to breathe from my mouth and in the morning I will wake up pain in my throat due to the dry air. Damn! This was getting bad.

My job was affected, so was my focus and concentration. I was not able to do anything properly. I was irritated all the time and used to get angry at the slightest of anything trivial, benign or frustration-worthy. Life was suddenly hell and I had no idea how did I get here and how to get out of it.

After a week or so, I finally took the lesson home that this is not a seasonal flu and I am having seasonal allergies. People at work started to tell me, I am having seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies? 

What in the world is that? I have never heard of pollen allergies before? Really. I am allergic to something in my environment. But, I have been living here in Boston for almost four years and I never had allergies before. Before Boston, I lived in California, Arizona and North Dakota (in all seasons).

I never had any allergies there as well. I never had any allergies in India where I was grew up and lived until age 22. How can I be allergic to pollen or whatever is causing me allergies? I needed to find out the answers.

 

Two Types of Allergies

Allergies can be: a. Seasonal or b. Perennial.

There are two types of allergies: seasonal, which are more common, and perennial that happens throughout the year for no particular or specific cause but due to any number of variable causes, for eg. dust mites, dust, change in temperature, etc.

 

Seasonal Allergies (Pollen Induced)
In this blog post, I am going to talk about only the seasonal allergies that are caused due to an allergen (eg: pollen) during the spring season or early summer (May and June).

If you get itchy, watery, red eyes and drippy nose during a specific time of the year, you are like me and this post is for you. (For others, this post may serve as informational but this is not written for any other kind of allergies.)

Also, this post is not a medical advice by my own story and how I cured my seasonal allergy problem. (This post is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.)

I have been suffering from both Eye Allergy and Nose Allergy for past 2 years. I was waiting to find out what happens this year. Around May 7th or 8th, I started to get the symptoms and I was, oops, I am indeed really allergic. Took me two seasons to accept the truth. I am going to share, what I did (immediately) to get rid of my allergic symptoms and problem.

 

First Thing First

If you are having the same symptoms as I have (as described above), first however, you must see an allergist to find out if you truly have allergies before making drastic changes at home or starting a medication. You may be unsure about the cause of your allergy symptoms, get a skin test or a blood test to identify the allergens that cause your problems.

skin test arm 1 allergy test

The bigger red hives means I am allergic to that particular allergen.

skin allergy test arm

Here you can see I am not really allergic to anything from this batch.

All insurance plans cover allergy checkup and tests and these tests are simple and can tell you a wealth of information about your body. Here, you can see what a typical skin allergy test looks like and what results you get at the end of it. The test is about 30 minutes long. You can easily schedule the test during one of your lunch breaks.

Skin test for allergy

In total, I was tested for 36 most common allergens.

allergy test skin test

The last batch of test, my both arms fully covered with needle pricks.

After the test, I found out that I am not allergic to pets (dogs and cats), dust mites and mold, thank God! Sorry, folks, I won’t be covering the allergies caused by pets in this post. But after your test, if you find out you are allergic to pets, the simplest thing to do is not have pets and avoid contacts with them. For more information you can google and learn more. If you do a good research, please share.

 

Watch Out for April – June

Seasonal allergies happen only at certain times of the years, usually early spring through summer and into autumn. They’re caused by exposure to allergens in the air, commonly pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds, as well as spores from molds.

When a person has seasonal allergies, the body’s immune system mistakenly reacts to substances like pollen or mold as invaders. These substances are called allergens.

An allergic reaction occurs as the immune system tries to fight off the allergen. These pollen induced seasonal allergies affect an estimated 40 million people in the United States alone. As you can see, you and I are not alone. This is a big issue. I hope there is better cure for this. For now, let’s keep reading on.

 

Myth: If you are not allergic to pollen, you are safe and you wont have it.

Truth: You can become allergic to a particular pollen or substance later. Look at my test results above. This is called “acquired disorder”. [6]

What is a Pollen? 

Pollen is a fine to coarse powder containing the micro sperm cells of seed plants, which produce the male sperm cells. These sperm cells. Need I say more.

Pollen are protein that seem as a intrusive foreign substance to body’s immune (defense) system. Our body does not accept any foreign proteins (amino acids) without a grain of salt. And this is a good thing and this is how we fight bacteria and viruses but this self-defense mechanism gets bad when it starts fighting a natural, non-harmful substance such as a tree pollen.

 

Forms of Seasonal Pollen Induced Allergies

Eye Allergy is an allergic reaction to pollen that affects the eyes. Eyes may become watery, itchy, sore, red and/or swollen.

Nasal Allergy is an allergic reaction that gets worst at night with nose congestion, dry throat and thus resulting in sleep deprivation.

Hay Fever is an allergy to pollen that is present in the air at certain times of year. Symptoms include itching in the nose, roof of the mouth, throat, and eyes; sneezing; stuffy nose; runny nose; and tearing eyes.

Usually, your eye allergy will happen along with nasal allergy symptoms. Likewise, you can have all of them at once or only one prominent one.

 

Two Common Allergy Triggers

Your Overactive Immune System
Many things can trigger an allergic reaction. That’s when your body’s defenses attack a usually harmless substance, such as pollen, animal dander, or food. The reaction can range from mild and annoying to sudden and life-threatening. About 1 in 5 Americans have allergies.

 

Pollen
Pollen from grasses, trees, and weeds can trigger hay fever or seasonal allergies. You might be sneezing and have a runny or stuffy nose and itchy, watery eyes. Treat these with over-the-counter products, prescription drugs, and allergy shots. To prevent symptoms, stay inside on windy days when pollen counts are high, close windows, and run the air conditioning.

Pictured is a magnified view of sunflower pollen.

 

Nasal Allergies

Let’s move on to nasal allergies, understand it and then defeat it for good. With nasal allergies, there are five things that happen when an allergic reaction occurs:

There’s sneezing, itching, runny nose, mucus formation, and nasal congestion (swelling of the mucous membranes).[1]

As an example, as soon as you crawl in bed prepared to get a good night’s sleep, you realize that you can’t breathe through your nose. So, you position yourself differently on the pillows and just as you get comfortable and find a good breathing position, postnasal drip (thick mucus) starts to collect in the back of your throat, causing you to cough — and cough.

The more you cough and try to breathe through your congested nose, the more miserable you feel.

Thus, all night long, you toss and turn and cough and snore instead of sleeping. The next day, you awaken feeling exhausted and irritable because your allergies have wreaked havoc with normal sleep.

 

Gravity is the Cause

Sinuses are small airbags, found in the bones of the face. When they cannot drain properly, it is very difficult to breath through your nose. This problem can worsen at night when you lay down. Gravity plays a role in sinus drainage. While in a lying position, the sinuses may drain down the back of your throat, causing irritation. If you lay on one side or the other, the sinuses will drain to that side, making it difficult to breathe through the nose.

 

Allergens
Allergies could cause nighttime stuffiness. If night is the only time you appear to have problems breathing out of your nose, you may be allergic to the material and or stuffing, that is contained in your pillow. Allergens cause an influx of histamines, which lead to a stuffy nose.

An allergic reaction may be caused from laundry detergent and the direct contact your face has with the sheets and pillowcase as you sleep.


Nose Allergy Medications

Two types of allergy medications may help nasal allergies.

Antihistamines: Antihistamines can help with sneezing and postnasal drip.

Decongestant: Decongestant medications help with the stuffiness and nasal congestion. A better and more effective approach to treating allergies might be the inhaled nasal steroids and intra-nasal antihistamines.

These inhaled nasal puffs and sprays address all four allergy symptoms of sneezing, itching, runny nose and mucus formation, and nasal congestion and swelling of the mucous membranes.

If you try the inhaled nasal steroids, it’s better to start taking it two weeks before pollen season begins to prevent allergy symptoms. You may plan on staying on inhaled nasal steroids for months, if needed, to keep allergies at bay and avoid sleep deprivation.

I am using Nasacort Allergy 24 HR. That’s all and I am doing perfect.

 

DIY Nose Allergy Relief

Drink More Water
Another thing that you can do is drink more water, which works to thin mucus. Thin mucus does not stick to the back of the throat and cause postnasal drip. You’ll know that you’re well-hydrated if you’re hitting the bathroom frequently.

 

Closed Windows
Keep the windows closed in the bedroom to keep out pollen and nighttime dampness.

 

Pillow Height

Raise the head of your bed a few inches. The higher the head, the less the nasal congestion with allergies. (This works well for me).


Exercise

Exercise for 30 minutes daily, inside a gym. Do not walk outside (even if it is sunny and bright outside). Wait until mid-June. It is not that you cannot go outside, you can on proper medication but go out only when it is necessary. 

Talking about exercising, your blood will flow easier, you’ll have superior posture (on account of stronger back muscles) and also your sinuses will shrink, eliminating the stuffy nose during the night concern.


Herbs

Herbs like Aloe Vera, Eucalyptus, Mint/Peppermint oil, Ginger, and Olbas oil, all have the skill to soothe and also cure aggravation and also swelling in the nasal lining.

Ginger is actually used to make a powerful nighttime herbal tea, that clears the sinuses and also throat. It seems to have the additional advantage of stopping nausea. Ginger tea might end up being through boiling fresh ginger roots, or perhaps using packages of dried ginger.

Use these herbs by adding the essence oil to a bowl, and position it near whenever you rest, to inhale in the vapors. One may likewise place a couple drops of Eucalyptus essence oil, or even Olbas oil to the pillowcase, to add in the calming vapors while sleeping.


Steam therapy

To use steam therapy, boil various ounces of the free of moisture herbs, and also pour the boiled water in a ceramic bowl. Place a towel over the head, covering your head and the bowl completely, to ensure that absolutely no steam escapes. Take deep breaths of the herb water throughout your nose to soothe the nose lining.

 

Why Allergies are Worst At Night (When I go to Sleep)?

There can be several reason for this (and this seem to be common ailment for most allergy sufferers, including myself). This is what I researched and did in order to sleep well at night.

1. Allergen could be in your face or hair - wash your hair and body right before you go to sleep.

2. Shoe outside – Pollen can enter your bedroom through your shoes, so keep your shoes outside.

3. Change your bedding daily – all of the pollen and other allergens that accumulate on your bed during the day are collected in your pillow and bedding. Wash them and change them every two days. You can also place a clean towel on your pillow.

I bought two allergen-impermeable (allergy proof) pillow covers from Amazon.

 

Eye Allergies

Now, let’s understand eye allergies and then defeat it for good.[2For many seasonal allergy sufferers, pollen irritates their eyes the most. They suffer from allergic conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the white part of the eye, the back of the eyelids and front of the eyeballs.

Allergic people may become especially miserable in spring and early summer as grass pollen season kicks into high gear. Grass pollen are especially irritating to the eye. So are ragweed pollen, which will begin spreading later in the summer. (In my skin allergy test, I found out that I am not allergic to Ragweed pollen, Halleluljah!)

Even though people blink an average of 15,000 times a day, pollen still gets in their eyes.[3The good news is that the same treatments and self-help strategies that ease nasal allergy symptoms work for eye allergies, too.[4]

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic Pink Eyes

 

Symptoms of Allergic Pink Eye

The five major symptoms of allergic pink eye include:


Redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid, Increased amount of tears, Itchy eyes, Blurred vision and Swelling of the eyelid.

Eye allergies can be annoying but they pose little threat to eyesight other than temporary blurriness. Remember, like all allergies, eye allergies are caused by a glitch in the body’s immune system. There is nothing wrong with your eyes or vision.

The allergy starts when the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the whites of the eyes) comes into contact with something that, while actually harmless, is seen as a threat.

In a mistaken attempt to fight off the threat, the immune system makes antibodies that cause your eyes to release histamine and other substances. That, in turn, makes eyes red, itchy, and watery. The most characteristic symptom of eye allergy is itching.

 

DIY Eye Allergy Relief

The first approach to controlling eye allergies should be to limit your exposure to allergy triggers. Here are several steps that people can take to reduce pollen’s irritating effect on their eyes:

Stay Indoors

Stay indoors when pollen counts are highest, usually in mid-morning and early evening. Close the windows and run the air conditioner (window fans can draw in pollen and mold spores).

 

Outdoors

If you go out, wearing eyeglasses or big sunglasses can help block pollen from your eyes. Driving? Keep the windows closed and run the air conditioner.

 

Pillows
Limit your exposure to dust mites by encasing your pillows in allergen-impermeable covers. Wash bedding frequently in water that’s at least 130 F. If your mattress is more than a few years old, consider getting a new one. Old mattresses are often teeming with allergens.

 

Clean floors with a damp mop

Sweeping tends to stir up rather than get rid of allergens. So use damp mop. Especially if a pet shares the house with you, consider replacing rugs and carpets, which trap and hold allergens, with hardwood, tile, or other flooring materials that are easier to clean. Go with blinds instead of curtains.

Clean your kitchen and bathrooms with a bleach solution.

 

Humidity
To stop mold from growing inside your home, keep the humidity under 50%. That might mean using a dehumidifier. Clean the dehumidifier regularly.

 

Eye Cold Compress
Don’t rub your eyes. That’s likely to make symptoms worse. Try cool compresses instead. A bag of frozen peas or a moist washcloth that has been placed briefly in the freezer can reduce itching when put over the eyes.

 

Allergy Medications for Eyes

Over-the-counter and prescription medications can provide short-term relief of some eye allergy symptoms. Remedies include:

1. Sterile saline rinses and eye lubricants can soothe irritated eyes and help flush out allergens.

2. Eye drops containing ketotifen can relieve allergy symptoms for up to 12 hours. They won’t cause rebound redness even with long-term use. Refrigerating eye drops may help in providing additional relief of allergy symptoms.

3. Oral antihistamines can also help. Walgreens, CVS or any pharmacy will have medicines from well known brands. These tend to be less sedating and most of them will provide you long-lasting relief.

I am not taking anything specific for eyes. Your choice of medication will depend on what is more severe for you: eyes, nose, fever or throat, etc.

 

Summary:

I have included here everything that I have tried. Also, I am removed anything that is confusing (words or language). There are other methods of course but they either did not work for me or they are not convenient enough to practice. 

If your allergy symptoms are severe or only getting worse or not improving despite trying everything that I have mentioned, you should definitely consult your doctor and ask for Immunotherapy.

 

What did I buy?

Allergy Control Pillow Encasement (two of them) – this is #1 bestseller from Allersoft

 

Medicines?

1. Nasacort Allergy 24 HR (1 unit) – works for multi-symptom

2. Wal-Zyr, 10 mg Antihistamine (Cetrizine) (1 unit) – from Walgreens

 

Most Important

Monitor daily pollen forecast. If pollen counts are hight, try to remain indoos or at least limit outdoor trips to rural areas.

I monitor daily pollen forecast on Weather.com.

 

That’s all. And, I am back to life like a normal person I used to be, with no major symptoms, peaceful night sleep, and open nostrils. (The only mild symptoms I still have is itchiness in my eyes, that too occasionally).

I hope my research and story helps you if you are suffering from seasonal allergies. If you happen to know someone who is suffering and have watery, red eyes. Do her a favor. Share this post with a person affected by allergies. Her vision is already blurred, and this will save him countless hours google time and conflicting information and confusion.

 

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Are you suffering from seasonal allergies? Did you have it since childhood or you developed it later? If I have missed some simple solutions to treat allergies, please let me know in the comments below. Also, if you are going to use the tips from my experience, and find success, please leave me a comment as well. Any other questions, please feel free to share your rich thoughts with us.

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