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Don't burst a blood vessel! Sneeze when you need to.

On a crisp fall morning as I was walking to Central Park with my husband and our pup, I heard a loud SQUEAK next to me.

I turned to look at where that weird noise came from.

And, it was my husband. His eyes were red and watery and his fingers were pinching his nostrils shut.

I said, “What the heck was that?! Did you just stifle a sneeze?”

He said, “Yup! There is NO WAY I’m sneezing in public!”

We laughed about it because the “sneezy stigma” is true. If you sneeze in public in 2020 people look at you as if you are spreading the bubonic plague.

But, the truth is, it’s allergy season right now.

It’s completely normal to sneeze at this time of year without actually spreading some deadly disease.

As the weather shifts and the seasons change, we are exposed to new pollens that can irritate the nasal passages.

The most common allergens are pollens from wind-pollenated plants, trees, grasses, and flowers. Different plants emit pollens at specific times throughout the year. And, during the fall ragweed, nettles, mugworts, sorrels, fat hens, and plantains all drop their pollens.[1]

When you come in contact with these irritating pollens, your body is doing what it is designed to do: expel irritants out of the nasal passages so they don’t descend deeper into your system.

Your body is really smart.

According to allergy and clinical immunology specialist, DeVon Preston, MD, “While sneezing plays a major part in the spread of infection, it’s also necessary for removing irritants, allergens and other foreign debris from the sinuses. If we didn’t sneeze, our bodies could allow potentially damaging substances into our sinuses or lungs.”

Not only that, it’s actually really unhealthy to forcibly hold a sneeze in.

Holding in a sneeze can lead to ruptured eardrums, damaged pharynx, middle ear infections, and burst blood vessels in your eye, nose or eardrum.[2] [3]

I understand that it’s not politically correct to sneeze in public right now but, don’t ruin your health just because you don’t want to be viewed as the town leper.

Here are a few things you can do right now to make it through allergy season without getting stoned to death by an angry mob.

SNEEZE CONSCIOUSLY

Sneezes can travel at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. They are fast!

Can you imagine what would happen if you tried to stop a car that was traveling that fast?? It would result in a horrific accident.

When you feel the tickle in the back of your nose, don’t hold back. Get ready to release that speedy sneeze out of your body and let it go into the crook of your elbow, or into your hands.

I personally carry tissues or napkins with me so I can sneeze into the tissue. I’m kind of old fashioned that way. My dad used to carry what was called a handkerchief. How many of you can remember what that was? It was a cloth intended for personal hygiene like sneezing and blowing your nose.

The main takeaway here is… don’t be afraid to let that sneeze out of your body. Just be conscious about where it goes when you release it.

FOODS TO CLEAR YOUR NASAL PASSAGEWAYS

Oftentimes, if someone has chronic sinusitis or post nasal drip, they will be more likely irritated by allergens and pollens.

In Western medicine chronic sinusitis for example is treated with antibiotics. But, that doesn’t get to the why the sinuses are chronically inflamed in the first place.

This is where we need to look at the diet. There are many foods that can contribute to congesting/blocking and/or irritating the nasal passageways.

The top troublesome foods on this list are dairy and milk products, followed by wheat bread.

These foods, if your body has trouble digesting them, can congest the digestive system and the lymphatic system, leading to chronic sinus congestion and/or irritation and post nasal drip.

Heck, who doesn’t love a gooey grilled cheese sandwich every once in a while? But, at the height of allergy season, it’s definitely not on my menu!

Instead, indulge in recipes that include spicy pungent foods like radishes, cabbages, onions, scallions, garlic, and ginger to clear congestion, support the mucosal tissue, and reduce inflammation in the sinuses. You can read more about that here: Eat Spicy/Pungent Foods to Support Your Lungs and Respiratory system.

HERBAL SUPPORT FOR ALLERGIES

Here are my go-to herbs to support your body through allergy season.

Nettles (pictured above) – rich in minerals is a classic remedy for allergies. Stinging nettle leaf may be useful in reducing the symptoms of hay fever by acting as an anti-inflammatory. Research has linked treatment with stinging nettle leaf to relief of symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.” [4]  You can drink nettles in tea or use it to make a yummy pesto

Reishi – this medicinal mushroom has been used for thousands of years for longevity in Ancient Healing medicine. But, for the purpose of allergies, Reishi mushroom is an immunomodulator. It regulates the immune system. If the immune system is overactive, it calms it down. And, if it is underactive, it ramps it up. With allergies, oftentimes someone’s immune system is over-reactive and this is where Reishi comes to the rescue. My favorite way to enjoy Reishi is in a Mushroom Coffee

Red Clover – red clover is one of my favorite herbs for moistening the lungs, clearing post-nasal drip and supporting the lymphatic system. I used Red Clover and many other herbs when my husband and I were recovering from Covid 19. Red Clover is an alterative herb that cleans debris from the lymphatic system to help your cells function better, and its anti-inflammatory.[5]

And, if you are sneezing your brains out and want something that’s really quick and already pre-made for you, check out Urban Moonshine Aller Blast. It contains Stinging Nettle, Red Reishi, Artichoke leaf, Elderflower and Red Clover.

It works quickly to support your body and get your allergies and those deadly sneezes under control.

Gesundheit!

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/seasonal-allergies#causes

[2] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dont-stifle-that-sneeze-you-could-get-hurt/

[3] https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19539150/can-holding-in-a-sneeze-kill-you/

[4] https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/stinging-nettle-uses-and-risks#1

[5] https://commonwealthherbs.com/red-clover-herb-of-the-week/