If you’re looking for a wealth of vital information about allergies, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’re going to talk about allergic reactions and how to get rid of allergies. We’ll also give you tips to reduce pollen exposure, bust some myths, and answer some frequently asked questions, including when to see a medical professional.
So if you struggle or know someone who struggles with allergies — don’t go anywhere.
What Is an Allergic Reaction?
An allergic reaction occurs when a person has a certain sensitivity to specific exposures. Their immune system overreacts to allergens (1). Things that can cause an allergic reaction include foods, latex, mold, pet dander, dust, mites, medication and much more.
Seasonal allergies are very common. When the millions of pollen grains start floating around the air during spring time, your immune system can respond incorrectly. It takes the pollen as a health threat, and your body becomes inflamed (2). This is typically known as hay fever.
So if your allergies flare up around springtime, it’s because of the different elements in the air. Types of pollen that cause hay fever include (3):
- Birch pollen (one of the most common).
- Oak pollen.
- Grass pollen (targets people more in summer).
- Ragweed pollen (these can last for months, even through winter).
Symptoms of hay fever include (4):
- Itchy nose.
- Itchy eyes.
- Itchy roof of the mouth.
- Runny and stuffy nose.
- Water, swollen and red eyes (conjunctivitis).
- Loss of smell (5).
Seasonal Allergies Statistics and Facts
We’ll share some top allergen facts with you.
They’re pretty interesting!
Who Usually Gets It?
Between 10 and 30 percent of the world experiences hay fever. In the USA, 7.8 percent of adults struggle with hay fever, and up to 10 percent of children (6).
If you have a parent or sibling with allergies, unfortunately you’re more likely to get it. Also, if you have asthma or eczema, you’re also more likely to experience seasonal allergies (7).
What Are Allergy Triggers?
If you’re one of the unlucky people who get hay fever, what might the triggers be? They include (8):
- Tree pollen.
- Grass pollen.
- Ragweed pollen.
- Dust mites.
- Pet dander.
Yeah, there’s really not much escape from these factors. So if you have it, you’ll know. But don’t worry — more on how to ease the symptoms later.
Climate Impacts Allergies
If you feel your allergies have gotten worse over the past few years, you might be right. Unfortunately, climate change is impacting allergies and hay fever.
Our rising temperatures, caused by climate change, actually lengthen allergy seasons. This worsens the air quality, too. Longer summer months causes more allergy attacks (9).
Another thing that worsens allergy attacks is flooding and severe storms. Damp buildings increase mold exposure, which therefore, increases allergic reactions (10).
How to Get Rid of Allergies at Home
We’re here to help though. We’re going to share some home remedies that might be able to help your hay fever and allergic reactions. Please consult your doctor before trying these if you’re unsure or have a complicated medical history. If you get the all-clear, these things can be done from the comfort of your own home.
The AAAAI recommends this treatment if you experience sinus problems as a result of your allergies. It can remove allergens and clear your airways, which provides relief (11).
- Mix three teaspoons of salt (iodine-free) with one teaspoon of baking soda.
- Add mixture to a cup of warm water.
- Dissolve the mixture.
- Pour it into your choice of device. We recommend this one.
- Lean forward over the sink at a 45-degree angle. One nostril should point down towards the sink. Don’t tilt your head back.
- Pour the solution into your nose. Breathe through your nose, not your mouth. But keep your mouth open.
- Let it drain. It will come out your other nostril, or your mouth. Just spit or blow it out.
- Blow your nose and repeat with the other nostril.
Most people find that doing this three times a week helps (12).
Stress can be a trigger for allergies. Do you ever find yourself covered in hives before a big presentation or interview (14)? If so, we recommend trying stress management tools and practices to control your allergic attacks and lessen symptoms.
Stress management can include:
- Getting active.
- Spending time with friends.
- Having me-time.
- Relaxation practices. Yoga, meditation and deep-breathing exercises can help you calm down and destress (15).
A study showed that people with allergic rhinitis benefited from consuming spirulina. It relieved symptoms including nasal discharge, sneezing, congestion and itching.
You can take spirulina in a tablet form or mix it into a smoothie. This helps with its sea vegetable flavor.
Bromelain is found in pineapples, but you can take it as a supplement. It’s been proven to treat hay fever (19). So, if you’re battling a constant runny nose, try this. It also acts as an antihistamine. It relieves breathing difficulties and inflammation.
If you have bad allergies, studies have shown that butterbur can help (21). This shrub, found in wet, marshy ground, has been used to treat medical conditions since the 17th century.
While it’s not proven to help allergic skin reactions, it might help with general hay fever symptoms. You can take it in the form of butterbur root or a leaf extract.
There’s not much evidence for the effects of taking this over time, so for now, stick to taking it occasionally.
Before You Use
If you take probiotics during allergy season, it can help with your symptoms. Scientists have found that a combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria help with hay fever symptoms (23).
These probiotics increase your tolerance towards the triggers. Participants of the University of Florida study found that taking probiotics increased their quality of life. That’s good news to any allergy sufferers!
Something To Note
You know we love talking about essential oils! One more thing they can do? Relieve allergies. But which ones?
- Peppermint Oil: A 1998 study showed that this has anti-inflammatory effects on people with hay fever (25). Diffusing peppermint oil in the air is a good way to use it. You can also mix with a carrier oil — like coconut oil — before applying it to your skin.
- Eucalyptus Oil: If you add this to your washing machine when doing laundry, it can act as an antimicrobial agent (26). Do this for every load of laundry during the allergy season.
- Frankincense Oil: This can help if you’ve been suffering from hay fever for a long time (27). Dilute it in a carrier oil before applying it behind your ears or diffuse it into the air.
“But how can I run if I can hardly breathe?” Well, we’re not saying to do high-intensity exercise if you aren’t able, but exercising in general, can help a lot.
If you get moving, the circulation encourages your body to clear up some of the inflammation and blockage from an allergic reaction (29).
When exercising with allergies, make sure to do a warm up — this helps with allergy symptoms. Know your triggers. If you suffer from grass pollen, don’t play tennis in a big field. Avoid exercising on windy days, since the wind can blow pollen around a lot more.
Lastly, make sure to stay well hydrated and call 911 if you develop difficulty breathing.
There’s a type of pollen that might actually help your allergies: bee pollen. You can take bee pollen by the spoonful or mix it into a smoothie. Your choice!
Many people testify that bee pollen helped remove their allergy symptoms. This is most likely because it has anti-inflammatory properties (30). If you’re interested in trying it, start with a small amount, just in case you react badly to it.
Keep In Mind
Aren’t we lucky to have so much water in the world? It can even help with allergies.
First, you can use water to your advantage by washing. When you come home from a walk or work, you will be carrying pollen and allergens on your clothes and skin. Take a shower, wash your clothes and leave your shoes at the door to keep these allergens out of your home (31).
Second, drinking water helps, too! Liquid can thin mucus that’s building in your sinuses and help relieve uncomfortable symptoms. Breathing in steam is also a good option.
Immunotherapy is a great way to build up resistance to allergens such as grass pollens, dust mites and bee stings. It helps your immune system become less sensitive to these elements by producing an antibody which can reduce your symptoms (32).
To do this, you can get allergy shots, allergy tablets or allergy drops. Ask your doctor for more information.
Having a hepa filter at home can help with allergies. Outside air can easily get inside, triggering allergic reactions even when you’re at home. This can be really uncomfortable when relaxing or sleeping.
HEPA (high-efficiency particle air) filters traps and removes particles like pollen, pet dander, dust mites and tobacco smoke to give you better air quality at home (34). HEPA filters help keep your air clean.
What To Expect
Air conditioners also help with humidity, which can often lead to mold — another common allergy trigger.
Keep in mind, though, that air conditioning can dry out your skin. It can also transmit infectious respiratory diseases, and carry dust and fungi and make allergic reactions worse (36). There are a few more health risks that stem from air conditioners.
Allergens love humid climates, so a dehumidifier can help. If you experience hay fever symptoms in the house, it might be because your home is too humid (37).
Dehumidifiers can solve this problem so that allergens like mold and dust mites don’t want to live in your house anymore.
Something To Note
Tips to Reduce Pollen Exposure
Of course, we want you to feel as free, healthy and comfortable as possible.
So we’ll share a few more tips with you to reduce pollen exposure so you don’t have to suffer with hay fever as much.
- Don’t go outside on windy days: Wind can blow pollen around the air a lot more than normal. So, on windy days, stay inside, read a book and do at-home workouts.
- Go outside after rain: This is the best time to go outside because the rain washes away pollen from the air.
- Don’t do garden chores: Digging, lawn mowing and gardening? Give them to someone else in the family to minimize your risk.
- Wash your clothes: Every time you come home, wash your clothes. They’ve been exposed to pollen so it’s best to toss them in the washing machine for a thorough clean.
- Enjoy a bath or shower: Of course, your skin has also been exposed. So it’s a good idea to have a bath or shower when you come home, too.
- Don’t hang laundry outside to dry: We know, hanging clothes to dry is a great and eco-friendly option. But if you have allergies, it’s not safe for you. Pollen can cling to your clean clothes so next time you wear them, it might trigger an allergy attack.
- Wear a pollen mask: If necessary, a pollen mask might help you when you are outside.
- Check pollen levels daily: You can actually get pollen levels from your local TV or radio station. Just like any weather, experts can predict pollen forecasts. If high pollen counts are expected, it’s a good idea to take your medication beforehand or try one of our home remedies.
- Vacuum often: Pollen and other allergies can live on the ground in your house, so vacuum often. If you have a HEPA vacuum, even better!
- Close your windows: Closing your windows — especially on days with high pollen count — can help reduce your exposure to allergens.
- Eat healthy: Aim to get your five a day in each day! Eating healthy can boost your immune system which might help fight allergies.
- Natural is best: Things like laundry detergent, soap, shampoo and surface cleaner are full of chemicals that might worsen your allergies. If possible, switch to natural alternatives to ease your sinuses and respiratory system.
Myths About Seasonal Allergies
If you’re one of the many with seasonal allergies, I’m sure you’ve had well-meaning friends try to offer helpful advice. But then it turns out their advice is just a rumor or myth they’ve heard somewhere. Of course, they have absolutely no evidence.
We’re here to help with those. We’ll talk you through some common statements about allergies and tell you whether they’re true or a myth.
Move to the Desert for Allergy Relief
It’s a myth. You’ll know this if you live somewhere like LA or Las Vegas. Grass and ragweed pollen is found pretty much everywhere (38). You might experience short-lived relief, but soon you could develop new triggers.
However, it has been proven that dry places like the Great Plains and Mountain West regions are hosts to fewer dust mites (39). So if you’re planning a vacation, it might be worth checking out desert climate locations.
Floral Bouquets Trigger Allergies
Myth. If your partner comes home with a bouquet of flowers, don’t run away. It’s usually pollen from trees, grasses and weeds that trigger allergies — not beautiful flowers. However, there are a few flowers known to cause allergies (40):
- Baby’s breath.
- Gerber daisies.
Let your partner know your allergy triggers so they know which flowers to buy you!
The Beach is Free of Pollen
Maybe. You might have heard advice to go to the beach if you have allergies. True, this might help because salt water can wash away pollen grains and relieve uncomfortable symptoms (41). But other allergens, like grass, are still in abundance.
Watch the Pollen Counts to Predict Allergy Attacks
Fact! Pollen counts measure how much pollen is in the air (42). The higher it is, the more likely you will be exposed to pollen on that day. So if you’re sensitive, stay indoors on these days. Or wear a pollen mask.
Rain Cleans Away Pollen
Fact. Humidity and rain affects pollen count (43). If you want to go for a long walk, time it for after a heavy rainfall. Not only does the air smell so good, your allergies are unlikely to flare up. Chilly, wet days are the best for going outside.
Mold Allergens Only Found Indoors
This is a myth. Mold can pop up anywhere (44). Soil, leaves, wood, anything left out in wet weather, can host mold. You’re more likely to come across mold in the summertime, since outdoor mold tends to be inactive in winter. So if that’s your allergen, be careful during the warmer months.
Hay Causes Hay Fever
Myth. Hay fever does not come from hay — despite what the name suggests. It doesn’t matter whether you grew up on a farm or have never visited a farm. You can still be subject to hay fever and allergic reactions (45).
Hay Fever Starts in Childhood
Myth. Oh, how we wish this were true! My allergies started when I was 19. You can imagine my surprise! A lot of people’s allergies begin when they’re children, but they can develop later in life, too (46).
One reason this happens is because the older we get, the weaker our immune systems become. This is why you suddenly might experience allergic reactions as an adult. Adult on-set allergies can also be caused by moving to a new location, where these new allergens might be a shock to your system (47).
Allergy Shots Help
Maybe. Talk to your doctor about a treatment plan. These allergy shots can help your body get used to allergens (48). This should hopefully build up a better immunity to your triggers and ease the symptoms over time.
When to Seek Professional Help
Home remedies are great, but they’re not for everyone. If you are using home remedies, we recommend consulting with your doctor first.
If you’ve tried a few and find they don’t work, it’s time to go back to your doctor and seek professional help.
You should also seek professional help if you have severe allergic reactions. If that’s common for you, we don’t recommend trying home remedies. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. If you experience that, get professional help immediately.
Symptoms include trouble breathing, a tight and painful chest, dizziness, fainting and rashes, amongst other things.
It’s also important to use essential oils with caution. Always make sure to stick with a quality and certified brand.
Patch test in a carrier oil on unbroken skin — such as your forearm. Then wait 24 hours to see if there’s any reaction before continuing use.
Frequently Answered Questions
Can an Allergy Go Away on Its Own?
Yes, a lot of people outgrow their allergies (49). Doctors aren’t yet sure why this happens, but it’s possible.
Even if your allergies don’t disappear altogether, the symptoms might lessen over time. The one theory is that you build a stronger resistance to certain things and therefore, your body doesn’t overreact to the triggers.
Is It Possible to Cure Allergies?
Bad news — no. It’s not possible (50). But it is possible to treat and control your symptoms. You can also make it easier by avoiding exposure to your allergens.
How Can I Boost My Immunity to Allergies?
Boosting your immune system is a good way to try and control allergy symptoms. Things to try include:
- Exercise often.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Avoid tobacco.
- Control your blood pressure.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Sleep eight hours per night.
- Wash your hands throughout the day.
How Long Does an Allergy Last?
The allergy itself could last your entire life. We know — not what you wanted to hear.
A skin allergic reaction itself can last up to four weeks, even with treatment (51).
As for sinus responses, unfortunately, hay fever symptoms last as long as you are exposed to the allergen (52). They don’t just go away like normal colds. If your symptoms are bothering you after a week, you can visit your doctor for advice and treatment.
Can Allergies Kill You?
Some people have serious allergic reactions that result in anaphylactic shock. This is a full body reaction that can be life-threatening and even end in death (53).
Anaphylactic shock is most often caused by food allergies, insect stings, medication and latex rather than hay fever (54).
If you do go into anaphylactic shock, call 911 immediately. If you’re prone to shocks, your doctor should give you epinephrine (aka an epi pen) to keep on you at all times. This will control the symptoms and potentially save your life.
Do Allergies Get Better With Exposure?
It can work. That’s why immunotherapy works for a lot of people. Their body is exposed to the allergen which gives them a chance to learn to fight it (55).
Quite a few people note that their hay fever eases as they grow. Others, on the other hand, say it gets worse since their immune system is compromised.
In general, it’s advised that you avoid being exposed to your allergens so that you don’t have an allergic reaction.
Do Allergies Get Better With Age?
For some people, they do. But for a lot of people, it comes and goes.
Allergy experts have found that the worst allergic reactions happen for people between the ages of 5 and 16 (56). What happens next is about two decades of relief before the allergies worsen again in a person’s 30’s. But a lot of symptoms disappear for good around 65 years old, so you can enjoy a comfortable retirement!
You’re Not Alone
Although allergies are so frustrating, remember: you’re not alone.
Annually, more than 50 million Americans battle allergies (57).
There’s no cure, but there are many treatments out there to try. Consult your doctor before experimenting with our home remedies and make sure to call 911 if you experience symptoms of anaphylactic shock.
And just so we can end on a cheery note — enjoy when your partner brings you home flowers! They shouldn’t trigger a hay fever reaction.