Hampton Roads, Virginia is one of the top two regions of the country for Allergic Rhinitis. Tucked between the ocean and the mountains with a temperate climate, allergens swirl through the area all year long. Many people experience a flare of their allergy symptoms during one or more seasons, but some people have symptoms year-round.
The body’s immune system inappropriately responds to things in the environment like dust and pollen as if they were parasites, which is why it can be difficult to tell if you have a cold or allergies. You may experience increased sinus congestion with runny nose, post-nasal drainage with sore throat and cough, headache, pressure in your ears, and even muffled hearing and dizziness due to trapped fluid behind your ear drums. For these symptoms, an over-the-counter nasal steroid spray can help to decrease your sinus congestion and pressure. You may experience symptoms of high histamine levels like itchy watery eyes, itchy ears, itchy nose, sneezing, and hives. Over-the-counter antihistamines can help with these symptoms.
Prescription medication is available to suppress the part of the immune system responsible for causing allergic rhinitis, which can also help with related conditions like asthma and eczema. There are also herbal supplements, such as stinging nettle, quercetin, and bromelain, which have been shown to decrease allergy symptoms by promoting a healthy immune system and decreasing inflammation. Finally, immunotherapy can slowly decrease your response to certain allergens through controlled exposure. You can get allergy shots or drops under your tongue. You may even benefit from a natural form of immunotherapy by consuming local honey, since it contains local allergens.
If you’re suffering from allergy symptoms and want to explore your treatment options, I can help you!
This morning, my six-year-old son hopped into bed with me, and I asked him how he had slept. “Not good,” he replied, “I was trying to sleep, but my brain was like ‘Oh, I want to talk to you! Oh, I want to talk to you!’” Amused, I asked, “What did your brain want to talk to you about?”
“I don’t know,” he replied, “I didn’t say yes.”
Wow. Is this my child or a tiny little Buddhist monk? He intuitively knows that he is separate from the constant chattering in his brain AND that he has to give his consent to allow it in. It was only a few years ago that I came across the idea that we are not our thoughts. Meditation is a great way to practice letting go of all the thoughts that are buzzing through your brain, often causing feelings of overwhelm, worry or frustration. The goal is to be able to take control of your own mind when you feel yourself losing your temper, losing your focus, or lying awake listening to your brain chatter on.
Meditation is done by focusing on the sensations in your body without any judgement, the sounds and smells, the weight of your body, the air entering and leaving your lungs. Thoughts will inevitably appear, but the goal is to allow them to drift away as you bring your focus back to your body. You may be able to keep this focus by silently counting your breaths or repeating a word or sound. This is far more challenging than you might imagine. Despite all of your best efforts, your monkey mind will surely grab ahold of you and go swinging through the trees. You may not even notice that you’re lost in your thoughts until several minutes have passed. Similar to physical exercise, this exercise of the brain may be unpleasant at the time, but the benefits will last all day. Over time, your monkey mind will learn to behave. You will sleep better. You will find it easier to focus at work. You will be more present with those you care about. You will experience less day-to-day frustration. Just remember, next time your brain wants to talk to you, you don’t have to say yes.