Your immune system matters during the springtime.
With the changes of seasons often comes sneezing, coughing, irritated eyes, scratchy throat and congestions. In short, as one season comes in and another goes, it can be a miserable time for many people.
The first step to feeling better is discovering why this happens. Life is a lot easier once you know what in the environment may be triggering you, how your immune system is impacted, and what you can do to start feeling better each day.
Three key points and/or studies
If any and every change of seasons is challenging your immune system, irritating your respiratory health, spurring nasal inflammation and causing a nonstop cycle of nasal drainage and congestion, it’s time to make some positive changes in your life.
How Seasons Impact Immune System
It’s easy to blame spring, summer and fall for all of our seasonal woes, but the factor of the matter is our homes have 2 to 5 times more pollutants in them than outside (4).
How can that be?
Some of those pollutants may seem obvious like the household cleaners we use, but there’s far more to it than that. Artificially scented household items such as candles, air fresheners, laundry detergents and even soaps are to blame as well.
These types of products can cause severe irritation and inflammation. And the moment you use them they become airborne going straight to your nasal passages and lungs.
As many Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors between home, the office and everything else, being constantly exposed to these compounds has a substantial impact on the immune system. Your entire body is inflamed by the time everything begins to bloom in spring and continues to do so through the end of fall.
Using non-toxic household supplies is the first step in decreasing the constant insults to your immune system. This alone is big in combating the challenges of pollen, dust and weather related moisture changes.
Pollen affects everyone to some degree. It’s highly dependent on who you are and where you live, but when spring rolls in making it seem like it’s raining pollen everyone gets runny, puffy eyes and nasal drainage. That’s when staying inside 90% of the time is understandable.
To decrease the amount of pollen you’re exposed to make sure to swap out your old air filter(s) in your home for fresh, new ones. Also wipe down your window seals, blinds, door frames and air vents can significantly decrease the amount of pollen you’re exposed to in your home.
Don’t forget to wipe down your pets too. All to often pets get blamed for making people sneeze and cough when in reality it may be the pollen that has gotten on their fur. Who knows, they may been itchy and sneezing for the same reason. Use a damp washcloth to wipe them down when they come indoors and make sure to wash their bedding regularly.
How Is Inflammation Involved?
As we mentioned above, chronic, underlying inflammation can make your body’s response to pollen, dust, pet dander and more even worse. But what exactly is inflammation?
Inflammation in and of itself is not a bad thing. It’s your body’s way of dealing with foreign bodies or injuries. It’s when that inflammation becomes chronic due to stress, diet, lifestyle or environmental factors that it begins to have a significant negative impact on the body.
If your nasal passages, respiratory tract and everything else are already affected by inflammation by time your mast cells start to create histamine to combat pollen, dust, pet dander and environmental pollutants, you’re going to have extremely irritated tissue that not only overreacts to the stimuli it’s trying to fend off, but it’s susceptible to infection and/or significant damage. At that point the entire immune response goes into overdrive.
Then comes a matter of simple logistics. If the tissue in your nasal passages is puffy from inflammation when your mast cells create mucus to capture and remove foreign bodies before they get into your lungs (so there is a point a runny nose), there’s physically not enough room for all the mucus to exit. It begins to build up into congestion and that can lead to discomfort, headaches and even sinus infections.
Supporting Respiratory Health
The goal is to support your respiratory health year round by using all natural, non-toxic products. Replace everything that contains artificial scents with either unscented or naturally scented products. Additionally, all the aforementioned ideas for combatting pollen can help year round to reduce the amount of respiratory irritants in your home like mold, pet dander, dust and more.
Reducing stress and getting plenty of sleep support your health from head to toe including your lungs. Make sure to reduce the number of irritants/pollutants in the area for all your yoga, deep breathing and sleeping so that your lungs can heal while you destress.
There aren’t time release pills in nature. The time it takes to start seeing a supplement work depends on your health before you started taking it and how bad the weather and pollen have been in your area. Be patient.
Eating a healthy diet rich in beta carotene (vitamin A’s precursor), fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and zinc can definitely get you on your way to optimal health sooner as well. It’s the final puzzle piece that completes everything mentioned above. And all of those nutrients help your respiratory tract.
Bringing It Full Circle
If changes in season are making you and your household miserable, there is a lot that you can do to start feeling better each and every day. Look into supplements that meet your needs and while you’re waiting for them to arrive you can install a new air filter, wash down the house and replace your household items with non-toxic, unscented versions. Stock up on a rainbow of produce items and make sure to get plenty of sleep.
Sheila Amir is a health and nutrition writer in love with Durham, North Carolina and the Sheila of NutritionSheila.com. After spending several years as a nutritionist, she turned in her office keys for laptop life to research, write and present while on the go. When she puts the laptop down she's either on her yoga mat or out enjoying life in the Bull City.