Q: I’m going to be visiting my family and in-laws over the holidays, which I’m looking forward to except for the allergies! I have a stuffy nose and watery eyes the whole time I’m at either house. Do you have any of your down-to-earth commonsense solutions for this?
A: Between family pets, dry indoor winter air, dusty old guest room pillows and the stress of the holidays, it’s no wonder we can feel less-than-great when visiting family. For starters, I’d recommend traveling with your own pillow case. Any tightly woven cotton pillow case will help, but even better are pillow cases made specifically to block allergens. Aller-Ease has a couple of good choices in cotton, or try the cotton AllerSoft pillow case with a zipper.
Next, keep your sinuses moist and clean by rinsing them at least once a day. You can use a traditionally shaped Neti pot, but for travel it might be easier to get a WaterPik SinuSense plastic squeeze bottle that’s lightweight, reusable and comes with 60 saline formula packs.
If your eyes also need help, get some of the Refresh Plus Lubricant Eye Drops which come in little single-use containers. They’re available at most drugstores, inexpensive, have reasonably benign ingredients, and are convenient for traveling.
I know this solution may be touchy, but it will be worth it: Let your relatives know (well ahead of time) that you have allergies, and ask them to minimize perfumes and forego air fresheners, scented candles and potpourri that are made with fake fragrances. They are highly allergenic and toxic and studies suggest they may be a leading cause of asthma and indoor allergies. You could even volunteer to keep the house smelling festive with genuine essential oils such as fir, juniper, cinnamon, clove and peppermint. Check your local health food store, or Rocky Mountain Oils has a good selection and reasonable prices. Just keep in mind that essential oils are potent and use with discretion! Remember, unless it says “pure essential oils” on the label, it’s a fake fragrance.
Your local health food store may also have a selection of either unscented candles or candles made with essential oils. If not, try the Organic Candle Company which has a nice selection of all-natural aromas to choose from. The Cottage Stillroom has unscented beeswax candles and genuine bayberry wax candles. Votive candles are easy to find, inexpensive and unscented.
Last but not least, drink plenty of water, eat and drink alcohol in moderation, and take at least one brisk outdoor walk a day.
Here’s an article, Natural Allergy Remedies, that may also be helpful.