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5 Home Remedies for Allergies

Victoria Georgoff
July 21, 2015

Say good-bye to the sneezes with these 5 at-home fixes.

Achoo! Is your family among the estimated 40 million Americans suffering from indoor and outdoor allergies? That's a lot of itchy eyes, sneezing and snuffling noses. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the overall prevalence of allergies in this country has been steadily rising since the early 1980s. On average, allergies are the reason for about 17 million doctor visits per year, with those pesky seasonal allergies making up about half those visits -- that's nothing to sneeze at!

With allergies on the rise, home remedies for allergies are becoming increasingly popular with parents. As with anything you give your child, safety is the top priority. "Complementary and alternative medicine can be considered as adjuvant therapy to conventional treatment. It's important to discuss these options with your primary provider or allergist due to possible cross-reactivity with pollen allergens," explains Dr. Minto K. Porter, who is board certified in allergy, asthma and immunology and in pediatrics at Essentia Health St. Joseph's-Brainerd Clinic. "Additionally, some complementary medicine may interfere with prescribed medications or exacerbate other medical conditions."

The goal of any treatment is to make your little one feel better, but when it comes to allergies, part of the trick is also minimizing exposure. "When you are exposed to an allergen, the body wants to remove it because it's irritated, so it releases a histamine reaction causing your symptoms. Sneezing after you inhale dust, for example, works to eliminate it from the body," explains Dr. Gary Kracoff, a registered pharmacist and doctor of naturopathic medicine at Johnson Compounding and Wellness.

"When we take an antihistamine we block that reaction, but the minute it wears off, symptoms return. Working to fix the problem by limiting exposure and maintaining good health can help reduce symptoms without needing to rely on antihistamines."

Next time your little one can't stop sneezing, try these home remedies for allergies:
 

  1. Homemade Eucalyptus Rub
    Eucalyptus oil opens the nasal passage and makes breathing easier. Create a simple homemade vapor rub by adding a few drops to a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy recommends no more than .5 to 1 percent dilution for children, which translates to 3 to 6 drops of essential oil per one ounce of carrier oil. Massage the mixture onto your child's chest or feet (never on the face or neck) to improve breathing. Dr. Kracoff warns that eucalyptus should never be ingested orally or applied to the skin undiluted.
     
  2. Homemade Sinus Rinses
    The neti pot or other nasal irrigation systems also improve symptoms. To make the solution recommended by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, mix three heaping teaspoons of iodide-free salt with one rounded teaspoon of baking soda and store in a clean, air-tight container. When you're ready to use it, add one teaspoon of the mixture to one cup of lukewarm distilled or boiled water. Do not use tap water.
     
  3. Local Raw Honey
    Some studies have found the use of local, raw honey will gradually desensitize you to pollen in your area. Use it as a sweetener in place of sugar, or simply or take one teaspoon daily. However, do not use this remedy on babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics specifies you never give any type of honey to a child under 1 due to the risk of botulism.
     
  4. Probiotics
    Find probiotics in capsule or liquid form. "They are good bacteria and give us about 60 percent of our immune response. They can be hidden in food or taken as chewables, but always buy ones formulated for children and follow the dosage directions carefully," explains Dr. Kracoff.
     
  5. Vitamins and Supplements
    "Studies have shown patients low in vitamin D, E or A may be at increased risk for allergies. A daily multivitamin or individual vitamin supplement may be beneficial. Toxicity can occur with vitamin supplementation, so it is important to discuss dosage with your physician," says Dr. Porter.


Other Tips
Using air purifiers and HEPA filters help eliminate allergens from the air and decrease symptoms. Studies have found whole-house filtration systems may reap the best benefits. In addition, using allergy encasements for your mattress and pillows, using an air humidifier in the bedroom, and taking a shower to remove pollen from skin and hair before bed can also help reduce exposure and decrease symptoms.

Finally, both experts agree that a healthy body is your best weapon against allergy symptoms so eat well, sleep well and live well!

Victoria Georgoff is a freelance writer and psychotherapist who enjoys writing about parenting, helping other parents and, of course, being a parent herself.

*This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.

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