Clogged noses, headaches, itchy skin – allergies are no one’s friend. Whether you have seasonal hayfever or are sensitive all year round, there are tricks to managing allergies and your body’s reactions.
What is an Allergy?
An allergy is an immune response to an environmental factor like pollen or food. An allergy sufferer’s immune system kicks into overdrive when it recognises these elements. Allergy reactions include runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes, swelling, rashes and in severe cases, anaphylaxis. For severe allergies such as food or medical allergies you should speak to a medical practitioner before changing up your routine1.
How to Determine What You’re Allergic To
Knowing that you sniffle in the spring is one thing – but what are you really allergic to? There are many different types of allergens in our lives, and it can be hard to pinpoint what’s causing your reaction. Pollen, perfume, dust mites, foods, and more are common irritants for many allergy sufferers2. Knowing what you’re allergic to helps you make informed choices, so you might want to speak to a medical professional about allergy testing. Even without knowing the specific allergen, though, there are several remedies you can try today that may give you some relief from the dreaded sniffles, sneezes and itchy-scratchies.
The easiest way to manage your allergies is to avoid triggering them. While may be easier said than done (if you're a vet allergic to cats or a farmer allergic to pollen, we feel for you) there are many practical ways which may help minimise your exposure to your allergens.
For general guidelines, try:
✔ Cleaning and dusting regularly: Dust mites, pollen, and dander are common irritants and reducing exposure is the best natural hayfever relief. Keeping your living space spic-and-span may help eliminate these allergens from your life. Hard floors are easier to keep clean than carpets, which can house dust mites as well as tracked-in pollen. Check fan blades for trapped dust, too, which can be spread around the home whenever the fan is turned on. Vacuuming regularly also helps eliminate these allergens from the house. Try using a HEPA bagged vacuum to trap allergens and allow you to dispose of them cleanly. When you do laundry, consider adding eucalyptus oil to the wash to help destroy dust mites.
✔ Clean your filters: When was the last time you replaced your filters? Check air conditioning vents, car air conditioning filters, and vacuum filters. Depending on your model, the filter may be washable.
✔ Check your linens: Many people are allergic to common household items like down and wool. Hypoallergenic doonas and pillows may help ease night-time symptoms. Many pillows also come with a washable cover, which should be cleaned regularly to reduce exposure to allergens. Try using a washable mattress pad to add a layer between you and your mattress, which may be home to allergens like latex or dust mites.
✔ Stay inside: Staying inside during high pollen count days may help reduce your exposure to allergens. When you do go outdoors, wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes, and avoid gardens, parks and avoid mowing the lawn.
✔ Close your windows: Keeping your doors and windows closed helps keep your living space clear of environmental triggers. Instead, try running your A/C to circulate air through the house. Your air conditioner will cycle outside air through its filters first so the allergens stay outside.
✔ Take your shoes off: Rid yourself of any allergens you encountered throughout the day when your first get home. Try taking off your shoes at the door instead of tracking outside particles in and washing your hands, too. Rinsing off before you go to bed may also help keep your sleeping environment clean.
Avoid Triggering Foods
If you have a severe food allergy, chances are you already know about it. But what about foods that only irritate, causing any variety of symptoms? Speak to a healthcare professional about your concerns, and keep a food diary to track what you’re eating and your response to it.
Common allergen foods include1:
✔ Crustaceans and shellfish
✔ Milk and dairy
✔ Tree Nuts
If you suspect that something like milk is behind your congestion, try avoiding that food for a period of time to see if symptoms improve. If you are considering an elimination diet of any kind, you may want to speak to a dietitian, naturopath, or GP to ensure that you’re receiving a balanced diet.
Did you know that perfumes and dyes are both allergens? People who are sensitive to these products often experience rashes, headaches, congestion, and runny eyes. But if you’re using products with these chemicals, you might not even know what’s causing your allergy!
✔ Use natural and perfume-free cleansers: Whether you’re doing the wash or cleaning up the home, try switching to fragrance and dye-free products. Many laundry detergents and home cleaners now come in these types of options, or you can try any number of homemade alternatives. As a bonus, many of these products are easier on the environment, too!
For skincare and haircare, try switching using a gentle, natural solution. Shampoos, conditioners, and body lotions often contain dyes and fragrances that can cause reactions. Next time you’re at the store, look for natural alternatives that are labelled fragrance-free.
Talk to Your Chemist
Did you know that there are over-the-counter products that may help ease your allergies? Next time you’re at the chemist, consider talking to them about different things you can use to reduce allergy symptoms.
✔ Sinus rinses: For people with sinus symptoms, a saline wash is a cheap and effective natural allergy remedy. Check your local chemist for saline rinses or a reusable Neti pot. A gentle saline wash helps to not only remove built-up mucus, but also cleans out the sinuses of any allergen particles.
✔ Eye drops: Red, itchy eyes often go hand-in-hand with hayfever. Try picking up some moisturising eye drops to help alleviate redness and rinse particles out of your eyes.
✔ Gentle personal care: Your chemist can help you find dermatologist recommended personal care items. Lotions, soap, and hair care can contain ingredients other than dyes and fragrances that may be causing your reactions.
✔ Natural remedies for allergies: Allergies have been around since the dawn of time. But, did you know that there are many natural remedies that have been traditionally been used by allergy sufferers? Brauer has created a whole range of products that may help alleviate your symptoms. They can even be used by children from 12 years and up!
You can explore the full range of Brauer allergy products here or find them at your local chemist.
1. Better Health Channel, April 2017, Food Allergy and Intolerance, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/food-allergy-and-intolerance
2. Better Health Channel, April 2017, Allergies Explained, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/allergies