Dr. Oz Compares the Symptoms of a Cold and Allergies
Allergies strike when your immune system acts like a drama queen, over-responding to things in the environment such as cat dander, dust, or pollen. Your body starts fighting them as if they were bacteria or viruses by releasing a substance called histamine, which you can blame for telltale allergy symptoms like a runny nose; uncontrollable sneezing; itchy, watery eyes; and congestion.
About 60 million Americans report suffering from allergies (formally known as allergic rhinitis), and whether you'll develop them is part genetics and part environment. A child with one parent who has allergies has about a 30 to 50% chance of getting allergies, while odds rise to approximately 60 to 80% if both parents have allergies.
The best way to prevent allergies or reduce symptoms is to minimize your exposure to triggers: Avoid spending time outdoors on days when pollen counts soar, keep windows closed, throw your clothes in the wash as soon you get home to prevent dragging pollen all over your home, etc.
To soothe symptoms, your doctor will likely suggest an antihistamine, nasal spray, or decongestant. But if you're concerned about drowsiness or nasal irritation, or if typical remedies don't put a dent in your suffering, these alternatives are worth considering:
>Butterbur:Experts believe this herb blocks the release of histamines, keeping seasonal sniffles at bay. In one study, Swiss researchers showed that one tablet of butterbur 3 times a day worked just as well as popular antihistamines-without causing drowsiness. Butterbur is available in extract and capsules in health food stores; it's best to take it a month before allergy season kicks in. More about butterbur.
>Quercetin:An antioxidant found in apples, onions, berries, and other foods, quercetin (pronounced kwer-se-tin) also helps alleviate allergy symptoms by stopping the secretion of histamine. You'll need larger amounts than what occurs naturally in foods, though, so talk with your doctor about trying a supplement. Like butterbur, take quercetin before the season begins.
Video: Operation Ouch - Alarming Allergies | Immune System
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