Project Alicia : ah-choo!

Friday, April 23, 2010


Today I have allergies on the brain... mostly because of all the sniffling, coughing, and sneezing ALL. DAY. LONG. Ah-choo.

Curse you pollen!!

All of the beautiful parts of spring bring with them the dreaded allergens that torment so many...

Is it my imagination or does it seem like more and more people have allergies all the time?

I've heard so often how people who never had allergies as a kid will all of a sudden be stricken out of the blue as an adult. This is true of both myself and my husband. His symptoms developed just recently and he seems to have a more acute case than me. He is often so miserable that he can barely see to drive. He also had such a horrible cough for weeks from all the drainage that he got himself a good old fashioned sinus infection.

Unfortunately it is not limited to just us, as my children are also plagued with allergies. Little Man seems to have both spring and fall. He has suffered with allergy induced asthma several years now. Pokey has more spring allergies.

So, with allergens in abundance and so many miserable people around me my mind has been busy trying to get to the bottom of all those unanswered questions.

Why is it that I didn't have allergies as a kid, but my kids do? Are allergens worse than they once were? And if so why? Why are some cursed with more allergies than others? Why do so many people have allergies today? Or are there just more people complaining about them?

It appears everything from genetics to cleanliness to poor air quality to global warming to more hardy varieties of pollens all contribute to the increase in allergens and the numbers afflicted today- so they say.

It certainly is confusing and very conflictual.

We are told to wash our hands and sanitize often to avoid germs and disease and yet it is also a contributing factor in allergies. As a kid I never washed my hands. I'm pretty positive hand sanitizer wasn't invented yet. Kids 30 years ago were exposed to way more germs than children today. Our immune systems were stronger and we had more natural immunity to allergens. We were also better able to fight off allergens because we didn't kill off all the good guys that help our immune system. In an attempt to have a more sterile environment we are lowering our resistance and doing damage to our bodies. Thus, contributing further to the allergy epidemic.

What about our environment? Experts say poor air pollution is also a contributing factor in allergies. We are too clean, but our air is too dirty. Diesel fumes, increased ozone (a main component of smog), particle pollution (nitrates, sulfates), dust, dirt, soot, tobacco smoke, and carbon monoxide all contribute to allergies and can in turn cause asthma. (

So, by simply breathing and washing our hands we are making ourselves sick! Pretty ironic, don't ya think?

There are so many different types of allergies out there... foods, pets, molds, dust, latex, cosmetics, drugs, to name a few. They are so abundant. How can one escape them all?

So, are we supposed to just medicate ourselves to death in the hope of getting marginal relief with frustrating side effects? I for one would rather endure the symptoms of allergies than the side effects of the meds, but that may not be the case for you.

In my attempt to feel better I've found some alternative treatments that seem to be helping. My Mom would be so proud.

I recently purchased the neti pot. Although pouring salt water in your face may seem like one of the most uncomfortable and unnatural things, it has brought much relief to me and put a stop to my incessant sinus infections.

I also keep an air purifier in my bedroom. The filters are costly, but worth every penny if it means not waking up with puffy eyes and a fluid filled head about to implode every morning.

Other more difficult, but doable solutions might include: limiting outdoor activities during high pollen peak times, keeping windows shut in the car and at home, removing/washing clothing immediately after exposure to allergens (such as pollen and pet dander), washing bedding often, eating omega-3s (cold-water fish, walnuts and flax seed oil, etc), and using stinging nettle as an antihistamine alternative. ( You can find other natural supplements here.

I am not a naturalist, but think that some of these treatments are a Godsend.

It is not clear to me why some individuals are plagued with allergies and others aren't. I realize that heredity and our immune systems play a part. Preventing exposure in early life is another clue. Although there are reports out there to the contrary.

I've also heard people complain that they didn't have allergies until they moved to a new area, possibly triggering a new immune response.

It is my opinion that some places just simply have more allergens, whether it be attributed to wind or pollution or traffic. Who knows. My mother used to theorize that the chemicals they sprayed on the cornfields were picked up by the wind and blown in our direction.

My mind has a tendency to go off on these wild tangents and then ends up exhausted and unsatisfied, but I am tired and I'm not convinced that there are concrete answers for all of my questions. I think this topic would make a great research paper, as there are hundreds of different allergens and so many different theories out there.

Any thoughts? Are you or your loved ones plagued with allergies? Do you have any amazing insights or epiphanies regarding these nasty little buggers, known as allergens?


  1. I've ALWAYS had allergies. As a kid I took shots for at least 8 yrs (didn't help.) My entire family is plagued by them. I have been wondering about the air purifiers, might have to try one now! I really do think it's the environment we live in now. Hope you're better soon- I'm thinking this (huge) storm we're getting will clean the air a bit!

  2. I have allergies. I am allergic to almost everything. I had an allergy test done last year and the list of what I was allergic to was long and I don't even remember everything. The are year round! I didn't have them as a kid except for some medicines. I first noticed it when Dale and I moved into our 1st little house. It was small and old and we brought our dog in the house. I would come home some nights and not be able to breath because my airway would get so tight. I really didn't put 2 and 2 together for awhile. Since then my allergies have gotten worse every year. I do have a neti pot but only use it in extreme cases. I rarely get sinus infections. I use Zyrtec. It is the only thing that works for me, but I hate taking it so I only take it when it gets unbearable - constant dripping of the nose, extreme sore throat. There's no way I could take meds every day! I have no idea why they seem to get worse and I totally agree that it seems like there are more and more people with them today than ever before. Both of my boys have them as well. Same symptoms at the same time I have them. Drives me crazy! I hope people have more concrete answers than I do!

  3. I've often wondered about allergies too. I heard once that as you grow older, it is common for you to "get allergies" (to pollen etc). I have no idea if that's true, but I never had allergies when I was a kid, and now, I get the constant runny nose/sore throat bit--but I'm not sick. I think we are plagued with it....but out of us all, Alan has it the worst. I seems like everyone has allergies now-a-days.

  4. I seriously think I have just developed them over the past 2 years since living out in the woods! Huge pain!

  5. I agree with you about natural remedies. I think there should be a marriage between holistic and modern medicine. I've heard amazing things about the neti pot!

    I personally do not have allergies. But someone just told me that the normal pollen count here is 200-300, but in the past 2 weeks, it's been 3,000. Maybe this year is an extreme year?

  6. Oh gosh, you know you're a mom when the first thought that pops into your head when reading the title of your post was Disney's Imagination Movers song aptly named, "Achoo!" Gosh I used to suffer pretty severely with allergies but for whatever reason this year I've been pretty much symptom free. Last year when I was preggo I had sinus infections and of course since I couldn't take much it was totally brutal! I do have an air thingamabob in the bedroom though so maybe that's the diff. Happy weekend!

  7. allergies are awful I get bad attacks 3-4 times a year

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