Is it happening to you, too? The sneezing, the coughing, the red itchy eyes. Every spring my clients think they’re victims of a nasty cold that just won’t quit. But when I walk under a blossoming cherry tree, or I see the bright green buds on the trees opening up, I remember the yearly nemesis: Hayfever.
Also known as seasonal allergies; basically your body going into overdrive to fight off what it sees as an onslaught of enemy pathogens, though really it’s a harmless amount of pollen. Your immune system is very good at what it does – sometimes too good – which is why the symptoms of seasonal allergies are often so similar to the symptoms of viral infections.
So how do you know if you're dealing with a cold or allergies?
For starters, allergies tend to last longer than a cold or flu; if your symptoms have persisted for more than a week, it's likely that you're dealing with allergies. Additionally, allergies tend to come on suddenly, whereas a cold or flu usually develops gradually. It’s easy to confuse the two, since they share common symptoms including sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, and congestion. You may also experience fatigue and feel generally unwell. But if you take an over-the-counter antihistamine and your symptoms lessen or disappear, then you’ve found your culprit.
However, as necessary as over-the-counter medications can be, my training in functional medicine as a Naturopathic Doctor has led me to recommend Quercetin + Nettles, Buffered Vitamin C, and Electrolyte Synergy. (Here is another blog post I made about quercetin specifically) These are more preventative rather than reactive, and encourage over-all wellness in addition to targeting your body’s histamine response. Likewise, using an infrared sauna and Pulsing Magnetic Field mat can lower histamine and cortisol (which is directly related to histamine production).
Additionally, it's important to avoid foods that can exacerbate histamine production, which can worsen allergy symptoms.
In my years of helping people on their wellness journeys, I have seen firsthand how seasonal allergies can affect people all over the world, and especially this springtime confusion. By recognizing the similarities in the symptoms and taking steps to alleviate them, you can enjoy the changing seasons without feeling sick or miserable.