Allergies, Asthma and Cold Home Remedies vs Medication
Which one is causing my discomfort
I have allergies that cause asthma, which in turn causes me to get ill a lot if I don't take precautions. Often, when the stuffiness and runny nose starts it is hard to tell if it is an allergic reaction or if I'm actually sick. I am allergic to many things in my environment that I can't change without completely picking up and moving to a different area. Trees, grasses, molds, and animals are my main nemeses. We live in a highly wooded area, with a lot of wild grass and have a dog we don't want to give up. The allergic reactions make my asthma flare up, the asthma makes me breathe "wrong". Breathing through my mouth too much causes my lungs to get inflamed and seemingly catch every germ available. It is a vicious circle. I tried allergy shots, but frankly I don't have the patience to wait 3 to 5 years for results. After a lot of experimentation, I have finally found a combination of home remedies, prescription and store bought medications that keep me from the daily stuffy feeling.
Experiments in Allergy Treatment
I take a minimum of 2000 mg vitamin C and a probiotic every day. This has kept me cold and flu free for almost three years. Before taking these steps, I generally caught a cold around Thanksgiving and did not get better until around Valentine's Day. I am willing to try remedies and know that when I stick to my routine I feel better. I am not a doctor or medical professional, this is a simple description of what has worked (and not worked) for me in my quest for a fog free, clear headed day.
I am unusually sensitive to anti-histamines and decongestants. One little Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) tablet puts me to sleep. One Diphenhydramine (Benedryl) puts me to sleep. I've tried most of the name brand 24 hour allergy relief medications with mixed results. Although they do alleviate my allergies, I spend most of my time in a fog unable to function on a day to day basis. I took a "non drowsy" 24 hour Claritin and went to sleep for 13 hours. I recently tried a half of a Zyrtec and it wasn't too bad, will try again. So, daily pills are off the list of preferred treatment choices.
I use a daily corticosteriod for my Asthma called Qvar. It helps me breath easier most of the time. However, my allergies are year-round and on certain days I find myself having a hard time getting a full breath. I use the inhaler twice a day during those times, and sometimes even resort to the Albuterol "rescue inhaler". I have noticed that on days in which I can control my allergies, my breathing is so much easier. If I have "nothing" to do the next day, I take a couple of anti-histamines and go to bed. Unfortunately, I usually have more than nothing to do, and I need to function better than through a thick fog.
When I visited my Allergy Doctor, he gave me a sample of an inhaled anti-histamine (Astepro). The directions say to spray 1 to 2 times in each nostril one or two times a day. I sprayed one spray in each nostril. It almost immediately took away the sinus pressure and pain, and my nose was less stuffy. Within an hour I was asleep on the couch. I remember stumbling to bed and waking up some 12 hours later, not ready to wake up. I felt great allergy wise, and I could breath very well but I could not spend more than a minute concentrating on anything.
I started researching what else could possibly help. I had previously heard that stinging nettle helps with allergy symptoms. I ordered some, figuring I have nothing to lose but a few dollars. I took one as soon as they arrived. I felt better within 20 minutes. I was a little foggy, but not as much as a regular antihistamine. I have had good results for several months taking the nettle at various times during the day and before bedtime. It does not disrupt my sleep as do the new generation anti-histamines Fexofenadine (Allegra) and Loratidine (Claritin). The realistic nightmares and talking in my sleep do nothing for my fogginess.
Two weeks ago, I woke up with a killer sinus pressure headache. The kind that makes you want to just stay in bed, but you know it will feel better once you sit up as long as you can avoid puking. I broke down and took some Sudafed, regular aspirin and drank 3 cups of tea. This usually tamps the allergy headache enough that I can function. But it was still there. I took some nettle, drank some more tea. Ate some sugary snacks - for some reason eating sugary foods helps my allergy headaches. Of course, sugar makes my Asthma worse, so I usually try to avoid it. I started to feel good enough to get to my computer and look for a way to prevent the horrible allergy flareups before they got to the killer sinus headache point.
During my search, I found an interesting product, which I have begun using and it seems to be helping. It a nasal spray of consisting of Cromlolyn Sodium. It works not as an anti-histamine, but as a blocker. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine website, NasalCrom works by "preventing the release of substances that cause inflammation (swelling) in the air passages of the nose". For the last week, when I go outside, pollen is visibly floating in the air. I have not had a sinus headache yet which normally would be a daily occurrence once the full swing of allergy season starts. My head feels less stuffy. Best of all I do not feel the fogginess I feel when I take other allergy remedies and my breathing has been excellent.