If you’re a seasonal allergy sufferer who is already wondering how you’ll get through this year’s pollen onslaught, you’re in good company: between one-fourth and one-third of Americans have seasonal eye allergies. Below are some tips from our Raleigh eye doctor that may help you find some relief.
Pollen is the micro-gametophytes of seed plants. While it is actually harmless to most people, the human immune system often registers it as a threat, and responds accordingly. Drippy noses, sneezing, and itchy eyes are all efforts from the body’s immune system to get rid of the tiny invaders.
Antihistamines: Most allergy sufferers find over-the-counter antihistamines to be very effective in minimizing eye allergy symptoms. In addition to oral tablets, you can also purchase eye drops that that contain antihistamines, decongestants, and/or mast cell stabilizers as well.
Steroids: If you have tried these options and are still not experiencing any relief, an ophthalmologist may prescribe low doses of topical steroids for a short period of time. Steroid use needs to be carefully monitored, since prolonged use can cause glaucoma and cataracts.
Allergy shots: Another long-term treatment option is seeking allergy shots. These work a bit like vaccines: the allergist administers just enough of the allergens to stimulate your immune system, but not enough to cause a full-blown allergic reaction. The dose of allergens is increased slightly with each shot, until your immune system builds up a tolerance and stops responding with symptoms. Note that this treatment takes from three to six months to become effective.
Some people are opposed to pharmaceutical treatments, and others are unable to take them due to side effects or medication conflictions. For these people, there are several natural or holistic remedies that can help.
Certain foods: Eating foods that contain quercetin, such as citrus fruits, onions, garlic, berries, parsley, and broccoli, may help stabilize your mast cells and reduce allergy symptoms.
Exercise: Indoor exercise has also been proven to be effective in fighting allergies. This is most likely because exercise produces an anti-inflammatory effect in your nasal passages, helping to naturally relieve allergy symptoms.
Probiotics: In some cases, allergy symptoms are a result of having an imbalanced immune system. This can cause you to have a more severe reaction to foreign stimuli like pollen, dust, and grass. Probiotics give your immune system a boost by introducing beneficial bacteria into your digestive tract. A good source of probiotics can be found in fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha.
Holistic symptom treatments: A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with water can help reduce mucus production and cleanse your lymphatic system. Nettle leaf can help naturally block your body’s ability to produce histamine, which will reduce itching and swelling. And if you are having trouble breathing, placing a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a diffuser can help ease your congestion.
Finally, practice avoidance: wear wraparound sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat whenever you’re outside, and quickly change clothes and shower off when you come inside for the day.
If you live in Raleigh and are suffering from allergies or any other eye-related issue, call the Raleigh Eye Center. Our experienced Raleigh ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians have provided exceptional eye care to Raleigh and its surrounding areas since 1922. To set up an appointment, just give us a call.