I’ve never been allergic to anything in my life – no food, medicine or plant could get me down. However, this spring I’m wondering if allergies have sprung upon me. For most of April, I had a terrible headache that went away temporarily only when I took Advil Allergy that someone gave me. She said I probably have allergies, and that she never had allergies until her late 20s, either. Now the headache is gone, but all week I’ve had a terrible scratchy throat. This started hours after I frolicked in the park below, where an astonishing amount of dandelion seeds wafted through the air and piled up in gutters.

Among the Enemy

Damn Flowers

Woe, does this mean I have allergies? Could it be exacerbated by riding my bike everywhere? Maybe it’s from city pollution mixed with heat?

If allergies are the culprit, does anyone have advice for medicine or a home remedy?

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44 thoughts on “Allergies?

  1. Omizzle says:

    I had the same problems a couple of years ago. For the longest time I remember never having allergies until I reached my late twenties. I tried allergy pills but even the non-drowsy will knock me out and gave made my mouth super dry.
    What has been working for me like a charm for almost 4 years is this

    It took me a little while to get used to the feeling of shooting up saline solution trough my nose, but after trying it a couple of times everything smells, and taste better. This is the only way for me to keep allergies under control. :)

  2. Everett says:

    +1 for saline solution. Also Chlortrimeton worked for me.

    As a teenager I lived outside of Chicago, but moved away as an adult. During those years in Chicago though, I would get some pretty bad allergies. Never had allergies before Chicago and haven’t been bothered by them since I moved away.

  3. Allergies come in all different packages, but yours doesn’t sound like a typical example. Straight from the Advil Allergy package, the symptoms most typical for nasal allergies are runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, itching of the nose or throat, sneezing. I get those with my allergies like crazy when they hit. If you had a sinus-type headache that lasted a month and sometimes a sore throat that may be something you want to see a doctor to rule out a sinus infection rather than allergies (unless you have some of the other symptoms and just didn’t mention them).

  4. anna says:

    Hope it’s only a temporary thing and passes by quickly. I’m luckily, I don’t know of any allergies, but I know a few people who have hay fever. Once you know exactly what causes it, it’s probably easier to avoid it.

  5. Margo says:

    Ugh, same here! Seasonal allergies sprung up on me in my mid-twenties and have put me through various combinations of tickly throat, extremely watery eyes, runny nose, etc. But this year is supposed to be especially bad for pollen since it was such a snowy winter for much of the country– the spring flowering season was compressed, so the concentration of these things in the air is much higher than it would otherwise be– so it’s definitely possible that it’s just now gotten to the point where you would start to be sensitive to whatever allergens are floating around. I was noticing my bike looked really dusty the other day when I collected it from the rack after work, and then I realized all the “dust” was pollen!

    But don’t hate on the cherry blossoms! I’ve heard that the worst offenders are the trees and plants that *don’t* have beautiful flowers, since those don’t need to spread their pollen to the winds since the bees are happy to come to them.

  6. sounds like the symptoms my husband gets too. I tend to be more of a sneezer, but I think he’s more miserable. the saline solution that others mentioned seems to help some, and I’ve had success with some homoeopathic allergy/hay fever stuff from the health food store.

    I also seem to get less allergies and feel better in general when I make sure to eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, which is pretty easy this time of year. I’m off to make a smoothie for breakfast right now.

  7. e says:

    I’ll second the netipot!

  8. Try seeing a Chiropractor. Regular adjustements can help your body resist allergens naturally. If you need medicine, my hubby takes the over-the-counter loratadine tabs that melt on your tongue and last all day. They work great for him and are inexpensive. Most stores like Walgreens, Walmart, Meijer, etc. have a store brand version of it.

  9. Tom says:

    I suggest that you go to an allergist and get tested. He’ll do a “scratch test” that tests dozens of allergens. You’ll find out of it’s ragweed or tree, grass, dust mites, etc. Then you can just take extra precautions when your allergen is prevalent.
    I didn’t develop allergies until my 20s as well, but now I need to take claritin especially when the grass pollen is high. You’ll also want to avoid opening your windows during this time.
    Biking during my peak allergy season hasn’t worsened my conditions, apparently. Maybe because I shower after commuting home and I wash off all of the pollen.

  10. Amy says:

    Oh no! Sorry to hear about that. I’ve been an allergy sufferer my whole life (sneezing, itchy watery eyes, congestion, eyes glued shut in the morning, runny nose, hives) with asthma as well. This is actually the first year of my entire life that I have not had allergies. Coincidentally (or is it?) it is also the first spring/summer that I have been commuting by bicycle everyday.

    I definitely recommend the saline wash. It does take some getting used to, but it seems to help with nasal allergies (if anything just to wash the offending stuff out). Antihistamines, though they may knock you out, can be your best friend in desperate times. But for a scratchy throat, if it IS allergy related, maybe try some hot tea with honey? I would say that if your symptoms don’t clear up in a day or two with some over the counter allergy meds, couldn’t hurt to go see the doc. just to make sure it’s not an infection.

    Hope you feel better soon!

  11. Joshua says:

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned it, but one particularly good thing for outdoor allergies is consuming local honey. If your allergies are pollen related it can really help. It has to be local honey though, or else the pollens used to make it will not be of much help.

    • calitexican says:

      my mom also swears by local honey. growing up in austin, my allergies were AWFUL. she continues to do it in austin, and i recently bought some local honey here in SF. i haven’t been taking it long enough for it to work yet, but i’m confident it will! :)

  12. donnarino says:

    sounds like you have allergies caused by smog. the headache/sinus pressure is the telltale sign since if you had allergies to grass, etc. your eyes would be itchy and your nose runny too. I went to my doctor and she told me there are so many triggers that it is impossible to know what is causing it conclusively but smog is probably the culprit and she prescribed a nasal spray for me which helps unblock my nasal/sinus passages thus getting rid of the headache.

  13. donnarino says:

    I should add I don’t use the nasal spray on a daily basis but if I notice my sinuses are clogged I take it and it usually clears them out within an hour of taking it. I don’t like to rely to heavily on drugs. The odd time I take allergy pills I cut the pill in half.

  14. Dave says:

    I can definitely sympathize with you on this one, as summer is always a sneezy, runny, itchy, burning few months for me, sometimes so bad it’s debilitating. Pair that with the heat that saps all my energy, and well, you can see why I prefer the rest of the year :) I think God invented cottonwood simply to punish me.

    I’ve tried pretty much every kind of allergy medicine I can think of, and am right now taking an herbal supplement that works as well as anything I’ve tried, which is to say, it takes the edge off :)

    The odd thing is, I’ve noticed that my allergies don’t bother me while I’m moving on my bike… as soon as I stop though, *sneeze!*. Yup, bicycling is also a cure for allergies. If only I could figure out how to do it while cooking, eating, etc…. :D

    Hope you find something that works really well for you!

  15. Ed L. says:

    Sorry to hear it. I had the opposite problem from many who have posted here: never had allergies growing up (in Seattle/Western Washington), developed seasonal allergies when I moved to Indiana for law school, which almost completely cleared up when I moved to Chicago.

    My wife gets them pretty bad though and also has the problem that many of the anti-allergy medicines knock her out. Usually she just deals – she has had seasonal and pet allergies (and pets) most of her life, so she is used to it. If it gets really bad she uses a non-drowsy Claritin brand which seems to work pretty good.

  16. Ed L. says:

    BTW – being out and about (aka, exposing yourself to the pollen in the air) will exacerbate any allergy symptoms you might have, but it is unlikely that biking, in and of itself, is a contributing factor.

  17. Laurie H says:

    I used to be allergy free until I went to UC Davis. It was really bad sometimes, I could never go outside with out completely loosing myself to sneezing and watery eyes…And I always had to switch up medications because it didn’t really work. One remedy they say is to take your local wild honey, and that helps…I did that too but I still always had allergies…I still don’t know what I’m supposed to do about it actually! Good luck though! I know how bad that could be! PS: LOL damn flowers hehe

  18. Tinker says:

    Allergies for at least 45 years, here. Washing the pollen from your sinuses is good, but taking a long hot shower works almost es well, and is a lot more fun. Zyrtec/Ceterizine, every night before bed, is the ultimate answer (for now).

  19. Beany says:

    No words of advice from me. But I am sort of an avid nature hater since nature is usually annoying (birds pooping, pollen drifting, gravel making me twist my ankle – again). I am more of a stand by the way side and look at nature type of person. I also avoid lying on the grass because of the doggy poop.

  20. bongobike says:

    I live in “allergy central” (that would be Austin, Texas to you foreigners), and I never had them until I moved here. They warn you when you move here that within three to five years you will get them, guaranteed. Sure enough. But it is normally just a relatively mild nuisance, controlled by Allegra and Flonase–that was until this spring. The allergies hit me so bad I couldn’t even sleep for days on end. A steroid shot solved that problem, but I wouldn’t wish what I went through to my worst enemy.

  21. Catherine says:

    I never had allergies until I moved to DC. Apparently we’re in some sort of zone that has three types of plants (we’re not quite Northern, not quite Southern and I guess we have a healthy dose of tidal plants…), so basically everyone is allergic to something that grows here.

    Add in the fact that they went and planted all these flowering trees (cherry trees) and when they did THAT they only planted male trees (to avoid having to deal with actual fruit) and male trees are the ones with all the pollen. As someone who (it appears) is allergic to tree pollen, I am in abject misery every April.

    When I manage to remember, I take an OTC allergy med (the Claritin ready-tabs seen to work well), keep eye drops around at all times, as well as nasal spray (generic Flonase I believe). This year, this combo seems to have kept me healthy enough that I’ve only taken 2 sick days since the cherry blossoms appeared (a great improvement over years before).

  22. Doug says:

    Both my wife and my 28 year-old boss swear by their neti pots.

  23. Matt says:

    If you don’t mind medication I usually take loratadine every day for about 8 weeks each spring and fall.

    If you really want a home remedy take alfalfa tablets for hay fever. For the first 5 days take 10 to 12 tablets a day then drop to 2 or so per day. As a bonus you get extra fibre in your diet.

  24. em42 says:

    as someone mentioned local sourced Raw Honey can be an effective primary solution to allergy caused by pollen. the problem is non-natives species of plants/trees are more likely the culprit theres plenty of them that were not used to
    adding to that pollution caused by many different sources smog, pesticides, weed killers and artificial fertilizers that people start using during spring season theres no reason to use non natural methods the earth had provided and had survived without those the last million years.

  25. Sefton says:

    I like many people here develop allergies in my mid 20’s when I moved to VT. I never had any allergies before and now every year for about 2-3 weeks I get them very bad, running nose, itchy, watery eyes. I have tried almost every thing from over the counter to herbal remedies. The best so far has been acupuncture. After one session I was clear for about a week. This seems to help alot, my naturopath also said that anytime you get somewhere after biking to wash your face and clean your nose and sinuses with saline. All the pollen will get into your eyes and you breath it in. This has been my saving grace, this has been the only thing that has helped at all.
    I notice that anytime I work out or bike my body will clear everything up to allow me to breath, once I stop it all comes back. I have also found taking a dip in a pool will help. All my sinuses get cleaned and it washed everything off my face, I think the chlorine must do something also. A lake can work but where I am the pollen creates a coating on the top of the water.

  26. neighbourtease says:

    I would not discount the effects of car exhaust. I had a near-asthmatic reaction to it after cycling over the Williamsburg bridge on a particularly hazy day during rush hour when tons of trucks were idling on the bridge and I was super tired and carrying way more than I normally do so I was slower and probably breathing more deeply than I normally do.

    I don’t have have hay fever or allergies, food sensitivities, asthma or anything like that normally and I must have just breathed too much of it because for a month following I broke out in hives. I went to acupuncture right away and they started going away but have only just totally left after about six weeks. It was CRAZY. Don’t discount pollution is what I’m saying.

    I also second/third etc the neti pot, which is a nice thing to do after breathing city air all day.

  27. Maria says:

    Have you thought about trying any homeopathic remedies? Frankly, I think homeopathy is pure bunk and quakery…but I use it from time to time and it works. LOL! Probably just a placebo effect but whateva!

    I thought I’d developed allergies too but upon testing found out that I wasn’t allergic to any of the common pollens and household allergens BUT I had developed asthma! At 40!! I’ve come to only one conclusion – as we age we certainly grow wiser and it’s a good thing because our bodies fall apart! ;-)

  28. delores says:

    I have the same symptoms as you for a number of years and had been taking over=the-counter stuff (generic cheap loratadine). This year, I’m taking 1000 units vitamin D daily and using the neti pot to rinse and have practically no symptoms. Cheap and not so chemical! Good luck.

  29. Jim Duncan says:

    You can also use a device (Grossan Hydropulse), sort of like a water pic that pulsates saline solution through your sinuses that flushes pollen. After every bike ride, I use this plus once a month I get an allergy shot. You can also get a cortisone prescription like Nasal Myst that will be more effective and avoid the rebound effects of OTC meds.

  30. […] Allergies? : Let's Go Ride a Bike – life on two wheels: simple … […]

  31. Carolyn I. says:

    I get clogged up sinuses too sometimes…definitely smog as I get it randomly throughout the year and it seems to fall on about the same time as an air advisory. My Dad says that dry air also can cause sinus issues..

    I take allergy sinus stuff if bad..and also use Saline daily to keep my sinuses clear.

  32. Dottie says:

    THANK YOU so much to everyone! The saline, honey and acupuncture tips are especially interesting, as most people tell me to get claritin or something. I’ve decided to visit the doctor (something I never do) to rule out sinus infection and then try some of these remedies.

    • Dave says:

      I should also mention acupuncture has helped some with mine as well, and the herbal meds I take came from my acupuncturist, it’s called quercenase, in case you go and they have something similar. Cheers!

  33. katie says:

    I’m sorry to hear that you might have allergies, but this post for some reason made me laugh a lot, haha.

  34. kayla says:

    chloraseptic allergen blocker. it’s gel in a tiny tube, and you apply it around your nostrils before going out–don’t worry, it’s invisible when it dries. supposedly blocks the particles from going in. i use it during pollen season and, combined with saline rinses, have had only mild symptoms the last few years. hope you get some relief.

  35. herbal supplements are more preffered because it is organic.—

  36. Dave says:

    Something new to add – my acupuncturist recommended Chrysanthemum tea, particularly for itchy eyes, but I’ve been finding it helps a lot with my burning sinuses as well. It doesn’t last super long, but it really notably helps and almost immediately too.

    I found my chrysanthemum tea at an Asian market, might be able to find it at some tea shops too.

  37. L-Lysine : says:

    my grandmother likes to take herbal supplements because it is energizing and detoxifying*-:

  38. Gel Fuel says:

    herbal supplementation is the best because i love organic supplements and herbal is organic -“*

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  41. genebernice says:

    Honey and Stinging nettle leaf are the best natural remedies for allergy. For more info on allergy , check this resource

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