Tips and Tricks to Help Reduce Your Spring Allergies

Allergy concept. Young asian woman sneezes and blowing her nose with a handkerchief and suffering in the spring among flowering and blooming trees.

Hi there, please provide a brief background on yourself and your expertise: 

Dr. Kristen Bishop is a naturopathic physician and member of the Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association (AzNMA), providing primary care to families in the East Valley for the past 10 years. 

What are some common allergens here in Arizona? Is it mostly dust, or do we have a wide variety of plant life pollinating recently?

Spring in the desert is an awesome occurrence with the amazing colors of various plants and trees in bloom, however, that does bring with it many common allergens.  Some of the most common that we find when testing allergies in our practice are the palo verde trees, citrus trees, and even some of the grasses that grow here such as bermuda. 

The more obscure culprits that are also very common are some of the molds that grow on the trees rather than the tree itself.  That is why we do recommend testing.  These molds are also the reason that many people find dust to be problematic for them as well.  Molds and dust belong to the fungal family and must be addressed differently if they are the cause. 

I’ve always noticed either my allergies are the worst after it rains or when it’s windy, is there a reason for that? 

I love when patients tell me this because it helps me to get to the root cause of the problem and not just treat symptoms.  When patients indicate this, it typically means we have to treat for fungal infections rather than common allergies. 

Listening to patients and asking the proper questions to determine how to treat the source of the problem rather than simply treating symptoms is what naturopathic physicians are trained to do.  

What are some common tips to reduce allergens in our homes? Any particular brands you suggest to capture dust?

To reduce allergens in the home, I recommend removing carpet, using allergen reducing bed and pillow coverings, keeping your windows closed on windy days, and considering an air filter.   

Do probiotics help reduce allergens?

Another philosophy of naturopathic medicine is to start with the GI system.  We know that the immune system starts with a healthy microbiome or well-balanced flora in the GI tract. 

Because probiotics help to restore that good, healthy balance, probiotics can help reduce allergy symptoms.   

Are there any over-the-counter allergy medicines you suggest? Are nose sprays good for us, or are more pill supplements better for reducing allergens? 

Educating our patients on what to look for in OTC allergy meds, as well as what to avoid based on their individual cases, is a large part of what we do during allergy season.  For example, some OTC meds can raise blood pressure and need to be avoided by certain patients. It depends on the mechanism of action of the medications as to what we suggest to the individual patient. 

That is why it is important to have a primary care physician who knows you and can properly direct you based on your specific needs.  Nose sprays, such as saline rinses can be very beneficial if you are having more nasal and sinus symptoms but limit the use of steroid sprays.  Pill form can be better for more systemic allergy symptoms but again, consult with your physician for the best recommendation.  

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