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It’s Spring and it’s time to breathe the fresh air. However, it’s also a time when many are susceptible to the effects of poor air quality, particularly if you suffer from allergies to airborne substances. Approximately one in five North Americans suffer from respiratory allergies like allergic rhinitis (hayfever) and the numbers have been increasing over the last 30 years. In this article, I will review useful tips to improve your allergies from a naturopathic perspective.

What allergens are in your house?

The most common allergens that can trigger allergic reactions at home are related to dust mites, cockroaches, cat, dog and other furry-animal debris and mould spores. Note that over 80% of homes in the United States and 85% of day care facilities have detectable levels of dust mite allergens and half of US homes have levels higher than the proposed threshold levels for allergic sensitization and about 25% have levels at or higher than those required to induce asthma. A recent study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that U.S. adolescents from homes with the highest level of chlorinated byproducts in their tap-water had a higher likelihood of having dust mite allergy. It may be that chlorine exposure may be a risk factor for developing airborne allergies.

Other common sources of airborne allergens
There are several potential allergens in the outdoor air and the common ones include the pollens of trees, grasses and weeds. People who show allergic symptoms in the Spring and or Summer months have what’s called seasonal allergic rhinitis and it can be very irritating. Several recent studies show associations of increased risk of developing seasonal allergies with rising petrochemical air pollutants and other factors affecting the climate. It’s also very common to have breathing sensitivity to several ingredients found in cleaning products such as disinfectants, chlorine, fragrances and ammonia.

Symptoms of allergen-related respiratory problems

The most common symptoms that come with respiratory allergies include:

• Sneezing,
• Stuffy or runny nose,
• Watery eyes,
• Itchiness of the nose/eyes/roof of mouth
• Wheezing.

How to reduce allergens in your home

• Impermeable bed and pillow covers
• Reduce dust magnets like carpeting and stuffed toys
• Vacuum weekly
• Wash bedding weekly
• Reduce indoor humidity below 50% if possible
• Clean mouldy surfaces and repair water leaks
• Use an air filter in the high traffic rooms
• Change your filters regularly
• Use household cleaners without chlorine and fragrances
• Change your clothes and bathe after outdoor activity

Young Couple Cleaning Cleaning Modern Kitchen

Naturopathic tips to improve your respiration

• Dietary change – a diet higher in omega-3 fats may have anti-inflammatory and immune regulatory effects that may help your breathing. Omega-3 is found in flaxseed, chia seed, walnuts and fish.
• Probiotics – these beneficial bacteria help regulate your immune system functions through changes in your intestinal health.
• Essential oils – several essential oils have been tested for benefit for the respiratory passageway. For example, ginger oil and eucalyptus oils have relaxing effects on the bronchial passageways, and lavender oil has anti-inflammatory effects on the airways.

Dr. Rahim Habib ND
About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or www.FamilyNaturopath.ca.