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02/Sep/2019

Allergies can be debilitating.  Sneezing, watery eyes, congestion, headaches are just a few symptoms.  For some, allergies create fatigue from the reactions and lack of sleep associated with the symptoms.  Certain foods can make symptoms worse.  A great way to reduce the symptoms along with medical treatment and antihistamines is through nutrition.

Ragweed

Ragweed has many species, and the pollen can be found 400 miles out to sea.  It thrives in rural areas and can be at its peak in urban areas between 10 in the morning to 3 p.m.  Because ragweed species are common within the United States, makes it difficult to avoid.  It can lay dormant for years until the right climate presents itself.  Places that are worse with ragweed are parts of Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The symptoms associated with ragweed are like hay fever.  Itchy and watery eyes.  Sneezing, nasal congestion and may have coughing.  Those with asthma may suffer an asthmatic response, or it can become worse along with severe sinus pressure and infections.  Some may even experience ear pain if the excess fluid has built up in the ear canal.

There are ways to keep your allergy symptoms at bay.  Your doctor can assist you with immunotherapy and antihistamines.   In addition, there are ways you help them at home, reduce interaction with the pollen, and avoid foods that you should not consume during ragweed season.

Foods to Avoid

  • Banana

  • Cantaloupe

  • Cucumber

  • Honeydew

  • Watermelon

  • White potato

  • Zucchini

  • Sunflower seeds

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Oral Allergy syndrome or OAS is a reaction that occurs when your body interacts with pollen similar to the pollen of certain foods.  For example, if you are allergic to ragweed and eat a banana during the height of ragweed season you may notice some uncomfortable symptoms.  It is uncommon for young children to exhibit symptoms. Typically it affects teens and young adults.

  • Itchy mouth;
  • Scratchy throat;
  • Lips, mouth and throat swelling.

Exposure

If you eat any foods that stimulate OAS and are having a reaction, take an antihistamine immediately and stop eating the food until you consult with your doctor.  Drink plenty of water and make an appointment.

Management

Not all individuals allergic to ragweed or other environmental allergies will have these reactions when eating these foods. However, if you have these reactions, it is best to avoid them or peel and cook the foods for meals that cause OAS.  This can limit or stop the reactions with proper food handling.

If you just have the symptoms of ear pain, congestion, and headaches, then antihistamines will help if taken two weeks before ragweed begins.  Administer hydrogen peroxide and warm rags to the inflamed ear (s).  Neti pots can help clear out excess mucus in the nasal cavity.  A saline solution for your nose for a quick way to clear your nose can help in between neti pot uses.


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26/Aug/2019

In mid to late summer, common pollen travels through the air, resulting in many people suffering from an allergic reaction that can spark hay fever.  This pesky pollen is ragweed.  There are seventeen species of ragweed in the United States, and nearly all states have ragweed.

Ragweed Season

The season begins in mid- to late July and can go as long as November with the peaks in September.  The allergy you may feel is your body’s response to the pollen that is released into the air, and one plant can release billions of pollen and has been found several miles into the atmosphere and even out to sea.

Symptoms

The symptoms are mainly uniform, with the exception to those who have a high allergy to it that causes asthma reactions.

  • Headaches

  • Sneezing

  • Congestion

  • Watery Eyes

 

To determine if you have an allergy to ragweed, you will need to consult an allergist for a skin test.  Depending on your medical history and the severity of symptoms, your doctor may recommend being tested for all allergies to rule out any other allergies you may have.

Things You Can Do at Home

If you have allergies, it is best to avoid the peak times when the pollen is at its peak such as staying indoors in the mornings until after 10 a.m., and in the evenings after 6 p.m.  Leave windows and doors closed, and do not dry your clothes outdoors.  Shower after you come in, wash your bedding frequently and even wipe your pet down after coming back inside. If you have a severe allergy to ragweed and have to be outside, wear a mask.

Nutrition

Vitamin C is always a go-to for illness and even allergies.  Your body goes to hard work fighting the foreign bodies in your system, such as pollen.  Several reactions occur, and one of those reactions is that your immune system is taxed and needs all the support it can help.  Allergies cause inflammation in the body such as a stuffy nose; however you will have more inflammation in your body that you do not notice.  If you are not taking any Vitamin C, make sure you begin a multi-vitamin and ask your doctor about taking an additional Vitamin C supplement during times your immune system may work harder.

Your food options can help you, too.  Greens such as bell peppers, oranges, grapefruit, jalapenos, broccoli all contain high levels of vitamin C.  Just as much as you need to focus on what to eat; it is best to avoid sugary foods and drinks.  Sugar creates additional inflammation in the body.

Treatment Options

If over-the-counter medications are not working, your doctor can prescribe a medicine that can ease your symptoms.  You can also go to any pharmacy for an over-the-counter nasal spray.  Your doctor can order an allergy test to better determine the cause of your allergies with treatment options such as shots, sublingual drops, and other treatment regimens.  If you believe you may have an allergy to ragweed or other environmental allergies, make an appointment with your ear nose & throat doctor today.


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Cape Fear Otolaryngology is a state of the art practice specializing in ear, nose, and throat treatments for children, teens, and adults. Our practice was designed with patients in mind and our team of highly skilled physicians and staff look forward to serving you and your family.

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