Springtime means allergies
Easter lilies are synonymous with spring for us here Bermuda. Weather you pass them at roadside vegetable stalls, in your home, at church or growing in fields, you’re bound to see them.
It tends to bring a happy feeling to most of us and there’s even a sense of pride as a bunch is sent as a gift to The Queen every year, but lilies don’t conjure up feelings of joy for everyone.
For many asthma sufferers, and those with seasonal allergies, the Bermuda Easter lily is an annoyance.
One local woman actually called it “that ugly dreadful flower” because its pollen has often wreaked havoc in her system.
Asthma educator Liz Boden agreed that Easter lilies are a major irritant to local allergy sufferers around this time of year.
“People with allergies have sensitive airways which react to pollens,” she said.
Spring is a time of year when all manner of plants bloom, releasing their pollen in the air. Easter lilies are not the only culprits and Mrs Boden recommends asthma and allergy sufferers stay well away from them.
“Do not bring Easter lilies into the house,” she said. “If you go to church at Easter there are bound to be lots of arrangements with them there.
“Don’t go up to admire them and don’t sit near them. Sit near an open window.”
While she does recommend staying clear of Easter lilies, she’s not generally a proponent of allergy sufferers avoiding all their possible triggers.
“In some jurisdictions they recommend people stay indoors and lock their windows during allergy season,” she said. “I don’t believe in that.
“The aim of good treatment is to have a full unrestricted life. I want people to be physically active.”
Her advice is that sufferers get treatment which may include allergy shots, antihistamine sprays or inhalers.
She said some people would need prescriptions while others may get sufficient relief with over-the-counter medications.
Like Mrs Boden, naturopath and herbal specialist Kuni Frith Black believes that allergy sufferers in Bermuda should not restrict their movements.
“People have to go to work. People have to mix with others and enjoy themselves. It would be unhealthy for them to lock themselves indoors during allergy season,” said Dr Frith Black.
Pollen counts are highest in Bermuda early in the morning around dawn, and on windy days according to Dr Frith Black.
But even with this fact she’s not advising allergy sufferers to go to the gym instead.
“Allergy sufferers should continue their routines outdoors. If you notice an increase in symptoms, the runny nose, itchy eyes, etc, maybe you should consider doing your routine at another time of the day,” she said.
Dr Frith Black also recommends allergy sufferers boost their immune systems with supplements like vitamin C.
This, she said, will help their bodies to better cope with the increased allergens in the springtime air.
And for those who want to avoid taking pharmaceuticals, she said there are many natural options to choose from.
“There are homeopathic allergy relief formulas that help tremendously with symptoms,” she said. “For example, there are homeopathic eye drops to ease itchiness, pain, swelling and even dark circles.”
Rinsing the nasal passages either with a neti pot, by swimming in the ocean, using a bottled nasal rinse or spray, can also provide relief from season allergies.
Washing pollen or other allergens out of the nasal cavity helps allergy sufferers avoid an allergic reaction.
Many people are allergic to nettle, but for those who are not, the plant (a pesky weed to most of us) is a natural antihistamine and as such can protect against the inflammation of the nasal passages that causes much of the pain and discomfort in allergic reactions.
Dr Frith Black said sufferers could either drink nettle tea or take it in capsule form.