Usually it's the first week of March when I'm writing about how to prepare for allergy season!This year I've already missed it, as allergy season in Prescott has already hit, and hit HARD! Due to certain weather conditions--mostly lots of rain last summer and an unusually warm winter (did we actually have a winter?)--we are experiencing higher than usual pollen and mold/fungus counts, and earlier than usual too.
Prescott has the dubious honor of having the highest number of allergic substances in Spring than anywhere else in the entire country! Since everyone moved here from somewhere else (and seem to have brought their trees with them), we have hundreds of trees, bushes and pollinating plants here that are not indigenous to the area. This causes a collection of high levels of pollens that are not normally seen together. Along with the normal mold and fungus that just like to grow in the soil here (and love to live in the respiratory system), we find ourselves with the perfect mixture to aggravate the sinus cavities and lungs. Many people have already experienced nasal discharge; itchy, watery eyes; spasmodic cough; and general irritation several weeks sooner than our usual onset of allergy symptoms.
When high level of pollens, mold and fungus surround us, the cells that carry histamine (called Mast cells) become destabilized, and instead of dropping off small amounts of histamine to certain areas, begin to dump huge quantities of histamine inappropriately. This starts a long chain reaction which leads to mucosal swelling and lots of mucous and itching of mucous membranes--aka allergic reactions. Some people have this response so severely and for so long that bacteria and viruses can hop on board and have a party, causing actual infections along with the allergies.
Many natural things can help with these symptoms and help to stabilize the Mast cells so they don't release too much histamine.
- Local honey (It needs to be from the Prescott area-- Honey Man carries it.) Just a teaspoon a day primes the body for what is floating around in the air and arms the immune system more quickly.
- Mast cell stabilizers like Quercetin, Vitamin C and Bromelian (500mg of each, taken together 3 times a day) can help. This takes time to work if the allergic reaction has already started, but if you can take it regularly before the allergies take hold you can stop it from happening all together.
- One of the most effective formulas I've seen work over the past several years is a product called Sinatrol. It's a combination of plants that stabilizes the Mast cells and also helps with the specific molds and fungi that grow in Prescott soil. You need to take at least 3 caps twice a day. If you catch the allergies before you have symptoms, often you can avoid it altogether, but once they're in full swing you'll need to take it for several weeks before you get relief. You will have less of an issue in upcoming years if you start taking it now.
Everything could change! If we get some snow in the next couple of weeks, it could slow down this early allergy season. This one is up for grabs, as it is such an unusual weather year. We will keep you posted if anything changes and as we find other helpful aids.
Happy early spring, everyone!
Dr. Susan Godman