honey.jpgIf you live in the United States, you’re no stranger to indoor and outdoor allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 40 million people have indoor and outdoor allergies as their primary allergy. While this figure doesn’t include people who may have this as only one of many allergies, in total, that’s around 13 percent of the entire U.S. 

It’s an ailment I’ve certainly battled with my entire life. When I was younger I would lose my voice for one week every spring. I don’t know how I grew out of that, but I’m certainly glad I did. I’m not sure my mom feels the same about me keeping my voice year round, but alas, here I am chatting away at age 26. It doesn’t mean I have no allergies now. For me, my symptoms are still the sign spring is here – they just happen to be slightly less awful. I still have itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing. Often, before the warm weather even hits here in New England, I know winter is just about over, because I start to possess all of those symptoms. If you’re wondering if you have indoor or outdoor allergies, your best bet is to start by checking with your doctor to see if they can refer you to an allergist. These specialists can administer tests to tell you what specifically you are allergic to. The reason this is important is because “Indoor” and “Outdoor” are very broad categories, and you might want to know what you’re allergic to in order to prevent any symptoms, or at least mitigate them. Indoor and Outdoor allergies are exactly what they sound like. These are allergies that you are more susceptible to when you are inside or when you are outside. For example, pollen and ragweed are two different outdoor allergies. But one thing to note about pollen is that it is different depending on what tree or plant it comes from. Some of these pollens are more potent at different times of the year, meaning they cause seasonal allergies. “All in all, what I’ve learned throughout all of my years of itchy red eyes, sneezing and sniffly noses, is that allergies are confusing.” They are a real pain in the sinuses. A lot of people can’t afford the time or money that goes into seeing allergists and getting tests done. For those who can and have insurance, driving around and getting tests can still be a lot of time. Especially when you may only find that your doctor says “take some Claritin.” There are ways to get a pretty good idea if you have some form of allergy. Everydayhealth.com, for example, tells us the differences between indoor and outdoor allergies, and when you can expect to start feeling the symptoms of either. If you notice that in springtime your allergies start acting up, then you probably have seasonal outdoor allergies. If you notice your allergies getting worse in the winter, you may have indoor allergies. There are tips for battling both types of allergies that doesn’t involve a trip to the doctor or the drugstore.

For Outdoor Allergies

  • Check for how bad pollen is expected to be that day. Most weather services will let you know this information, and knowing is half the battle. Weather.com calls it the “Pollen Forecast” and lets you know which days are going to be worse.
  • Avoid going outdoors during times of the day when pollen is at its highest levels. Pollen is usually at its worst by noon, so if you’re going to go out and exercise, try and get out there in the early morning or at night.
  • Avoid leaving windows wide open during really bad pollen times.
  • If you do need to go outside, make sure to change your clothes/shower when you come inside.
  • My personal favorite, eat local honey! This method is controversial to say the least. The idea is that you eat about a spoonful of local honey a day for months before allergy season. This is a sort of “exposure therapy” in which your body gets used to a certain amount of pollen and is therefore less affected by it later on.  I myself have sworn by this for a number of years and firmly believe it has helped me. I will note that I go out of my way to get a very specific local honey. The reason is for some of the same ones expressed here. The quality of honey matters when using it for this type of purpose. You want the local pollen to exist in the honey so that your body is exposed to it. That is why with the honey I select, I make sure it is not processed and, instead, only strained or filtered. There are certainly articles that talk about the process of using honey for seasonal allergies in a little bit of detail. But what they all say is that the topic is still controversial and results are inconsistent. But if it works for you, then go forth and make Winnie the Pooh proud.

Indoor Allergies

  • Clean clean clean! Dust and pet dander are some of the most common causes of allergies. Getting rid of that stuff is the best thing for your health.
  • Use washable bedding and stay away from excess pillows and blankets, as well as heavier comforters. These sorts of things can collect dust and, usually, aren’t washed as frequently.
  • Keep food in sealed containers. Bugs like cockroaches can also cause allergies, and the more you can do to keep them away, the better.
  • Use a dehumidifier/air conditioner. I really hesitated to bring up a suggestion that involves using electricity, but less humidity means less mold and dust mites, which is a huge help. If you’re in the market for one of these things, please look at energy efficient models!
  • Be aware of the pets in your home. I don’t want to recommend getting rid of old Lassie, but pet allergies are a very common problem and can be particularly miserable.
Whether it’s indoor or outdoor allergies that you suspect you might have, I would recommend just being aware of how you feel and keeping on top of it. Very commonly allergies are self-diagnosed as a cold or something that will pass quickly. This can lead to sinus infections and other not so-fun issues. Don’t feel you are stuck to only natural cures for allergies. Also, don’t feel that you have to live with this year after year. 

If you’re feeling like these tips aren’t helping, definitely talk to your doctor and see how he or she can help.