>> Thursday, May 28, 2009
I've had seasonal allergies since my family moved to Kentucky when I was a teenager, but since we moved to North Carolina, my allergies have been out of control.
Case in point: One day, I was driving my family through downtown Raleigh when my eye started itching uncontrollably. I was trying to drive with one eye and ended up turning the wrong way down a one way street. Luckily, I realized what I'd done immediately and no cars were coming, so I swung into the first parking lot and demanded that my husband take over the driving.
When your eyes are so itchy and watery and red that it's making you a hazard, it's definitely time to find a solution.
I had tried a few types of over-the-counter allergy meds with no success. They took care of the nose issues, but my eyes still itched like crazy. So I tried eye drops, but frankly, I am no good at putting things in my eyes. I figured I would have to head to the doctor for a prescription.
Or would I?
While catching up on my blog reading one day, I came across this post from Pays to Live Green about an alternative method for dealing with allergies: the neti pot.
A neti pot looks like an oblong tea pot. You fill the pot with a salt water solution, lean your head sideways over a sink, stick the spout of the pot up your nose, and pour. The salt water travels up one nostril and out the other, flushing all the nasties out of your nasal passages.
I was intrigued by the neti pot mainly because of the cost - only $20. A trip to the doctor would cost a co-pay plus the price of prescription drugs and drug refills. A one time cost of $20 sounded much more appealing.
Plus, a product that I could buy once and use over and over would produce less waste than the weekly packages of Claritin I was going through. And solving my allergy problem would mean I could stop using so much toilet paper to blow my nose.
Since I was heading down the path of alternative medicine, I decided to research other non-drug related ways to beat allergies. Here's what I found:
- Avoid the trigger. This is pretty obvious, but if you know you're allergic to cats, stay away from cats. If you know you're allergic to grass, don't mow the lawn. Etc.
- Keep yourself and your pets clean. Shower daily and bathe your pets often.
- Wear glasses or sunglasses outdoors to keep particles that might trigger an allergy attack out of your eyes.
- Close your windows, especially on high pollen days.
- Opt for bare floors. Dust and other allergens accumulate in carpet. If you have carpet and have no plans to replace it, at least vacuum often with a quality vacuum.
- Use a dehumidifier. Allergens love a humid environment.
- Avoid heavy house and yard work, but keep your house and linens clean (maybe play the pity card on your roommates or spouse).
- Try a Neti pot. See above explanation.
- Drink herbal tea. Peppermint works well as a decongestant. Nettle tea reduces hay fever symptoms - you can also take nettle in capsule form. Eyebright is another herb I've read good things about, but I haven't been able to find it around here.
- Take a shower to wash off any pollen or other allergens that might have settled on your hair and body. The steam from a hot shower can also sooth irritated sinuses.
- Eat wasabi. This fiery condiment can make your nose drip and your eyes water, flushing out the sinuses. If you don't have wasabi, try any spicy food.
Where I'm At
I've been using a neti pot for a couple weeks now, and it's working great. I don't know if it's because it makes my eyes water a bit or if my eye cavities are connected somehow to my nasal cavities, but running saltwater through my nose has solved my itchy eye problem as long as I do it as soon as my eyes start itching. I've read that you can use the neti pot up to four times a day, though once or twice is probably best.
The only downside is that using the neti pot is disgusting and messy, definitely something you want to do in privacy. So if you're struck by a nasty allergy attack at work, you're still more likely to reach for some drugs than to head to the community bathroom to flush out your nasal passages.
Image by brookenovak