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Can Treating Allergies Help Manage MS Symptoms?

By Daryl H. Bryant (696 words)
Posted in Living with MS on April 27, 2020

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Can Treating Allergies Help Manage MS Symptoms?

Does spring pollen have you sneezing and sniffling? If so, you’re not alone. Seasonal allergies can cause more than the occasional runny nose and red eyes. Allergy sufferers can run low-grade fevers, battle body aches, and fight extreme fatigue. 

When multiple sclerosis is added to the mix, both MS and seasonal allergy symptoms can be exacerbated. It can be frustrating and exhausting to deal with a double whammy of health challenges as the seasons change. 

The good news is that there are many ways to manage seasonal allergies and MS that go hand in hand. Here are several strategies that can help you curb the sniffles and manage other symptoms year-round. 

Eat an Allergy-Friendly Diet 

Hippocrates famously said, “Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” While medication can be a necessary and helpful component of symptom management, our overall health is affected by what we eat. Many people with MS find that a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods helps manage their MS symptoms, and it may help with allergy symptoms, too. Researchers have also found a connection between histamine and inflammation, which is an even better reason to focus on foods that will lower inflammation. 

Get a Professional Opinion 

Food, chemical, and environmental allergies can creep in at any stage of life. Rather than suffer alone, seek out an allergist to determine precisely what’s triggering your symptoms. Scientists also recently found a link between food allergies and MS relapses, so if you’re battling relapses, it may be a good idea to have allergy testing. Not all food allergies are life-threatening, and some may simply mimic MS or seasonal allergy symptoms. Your allergist can perform a series of skin prick tests to identify potential allergens and discuss lifestyle changes and treatment options that may alleviate symptoms. 

Avoid Outdoor Triggers

While others may enjoy going outside when the weather warms up, allergy sufferers can struggle with a simple walk to their car when pollen levels are high. Those with MS may benefit from getting some fresh air and sunshine, but need to balance that with mitigating allergy symptoms.  While you can’t completely avoid environmental allergens, reducing exposure to them can help ease your symptoms. 

If you plan to be outside, consider wearing a mask or bandanna over your mouth and nose to decrease pollen. You may also want to wear sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes.  Avoid walking through grass or touching flowers if you tend to break out in hives. When you do arrive home, wash all clothing and shower to remove pollen from your body. With a little planning, you’ll get the full benefit of being outdoors without the (literal) headache that comes from an allergy attack.

Reduce Indoor Allergens 

Did you know the air inside your home may contain more potential allergens than the air outside? Dust mites, pet dander, and outdoor allergens that are tracked inside can affect indoor air quality and trigger allergy symptoms indoors. Even more importantly, indoor air pollution can trigger MS relapses.

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to reduce indoor allergens. Start by changing air filters regularly and switch to HEPA filters if possible. You can also get an air purifier for high traffic rooms. Other ways to ease indoor allergens:

  • switch from carpet to hardwood floors, and use washable rugs

  • declutter - the more objects you have, the more potential for dust buildup

  • wash bedding weekly

  • vacuum and dust regularly 

Make a Treatment Plan 

Despite your best efforts, there may be times when seasonal allergies or MS symptoms are simply overwhelming. Work with medical professionals to determine best treatment options for both. You may use a combination of treatments such as supplements, diet and lifestyle changes, over-the-counter meds or prescription medication to help alleviate symptoms. Before adding any medications or supplements into your treatment plan, be sure to discuss potential interactions or side effects with your doctors and pharmacist. 

You don’t have to suffer through another season of allergies! With the right strategies, you can address your symptoms and still enjoy time outdoors. Best of all, managing your allergies can help you to manage MS symptoms, too. 

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