Natural Relief for Itching and Sneezing

Hazel and Harriet are sisters. Hazel spends the day spring cleaning and dusting her bric-a-brac. She takes her dog for a walk, enjoying the breezes that waft from the neighboring fields and wood. Then she comes home and curls up in bed with a pile of dusty souvenirs and her two cats, Pinky and Percy,

Meanwhile, Harriet is miserable. Getting within striking distance of a dusty quilt sends her into fits of wheezing and sneezing. Walking through the park leaves her eyes red and itchy. She misses her dog and two cats-they live with Hazel.

One thing that these sisters don’t share is allergies, in women like Harriet, the immune system releases histamines and other irritating substances in response to perfectly normal (and otherwise harmless) air borne particles like dust, mound, tree pollen and animal dander (dandruff).

Typical allergy symptoms include sneezing, nasal itching and a dripping nose, along with congestion and red, swollen, itchy eyes. Whether or not you’ll develop an allergy is part genetics and part environment. A child with one allergic parent has about a 30 to 50 per cent chance of getting allergies, while odds rise to approximately 60 to 80 per cent if both parents have allergies. Also, exposure to a high level of allergens early in life puts you at increased risk of developing allergic symptoms later.

GOOD RIDDANCE

The key to allergy relief, say women doctors, is managing your symptoms and avoiding common allergy triggers. Here are some basic strategies that can help women with allergies breathe easier. (For practical ways to manage asthma, which can be triggered by allergies,)

Salt your nose.

Over-the-counter saline nasal sprays are a safe way of loosening mucus, notes Dr Carol Wiggins. “It’s not a drug, so you can use it as often as you want.” To make your own salty solution, take a half-teaspoon of salt dissolved in 250 ml (8 fluid ounces) of lukewarm water, put it in a bulb syringe and flush it into your nose while leaning forward over the sink so that it can drip out. Look for bulb syringes at your local chemist.

Make a cool compress.

For itchy, red, swollen eyes, “Take a clean flannel, run it under cool water, put it over your eyes until it’s warm and try again, if you need to,” says Dr Helen Hollingsworth.

Seal your mattress.

One of the big problems with dust is dust mites, teeny creatures that live on dust, skin flakes and other bits of microscopic household debris that collects in bedding, furniture and curtains, says Dr Rebecca Gaushala So zipping a plastic cover over your mattress is a good way of limiting dust mite exposure.

Press duct tape into service.

Dr Gaushala also recommends putting duct tape on the mattress zipper, sealing off the escape route for dust mites Dry up. Molds and dust mites thrive in warm, humid conditions, says Dr Wiggins. So, to reduce mound and dust mite levels, keep a dehumidifier in your bedroom and one in your family room.

Clean the dehumidifier.

Dehumidifiers should be cleared out every week, says Dr Wiggins. Otherwise, molds will proliferate.

Use the extractor fan. Whenever you take a shower, turn on the fan. A humid, unventilated bathroom makes mound worse, says Dr Kathy L Lamp.

Simplify.

Getting rid of dust mite havens-especially in your bedroom-is a sneeze-free way of coping, notes Dr Lamp. “Have a clutter-free room with no fabrics or banners on the wall. You shouldn’t have carpeting, because vacuuming doesn’t clear the dust mites out.” Stuffed toys trap dust and should be removed. She also recommends frequent changing of sheets and regular washing of bed linens, pillows and duvet covers

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

If you find yourself sneezing, wheezing and coughing even though you take over-the-counter drugs and try to avoid known or suspected allergy triggers, it might be time to visit your doctor says Dr Carol Wiggins. The same goes if you can’t figure out what you’re allergic to Your doctor may perform a skin-prick test to determine what’s bugging you.

Women with potentially serious allergies may benefit from prescription medications or allergy injections, in which a tiny portion of the substance that you’re allergic to is injected into your system every week for about a year to help de sensitize you against troublesome allergens that are impossible to avoid