Allergies don’t just end with when spring changes to summer, unfortunately. Summertime weather means picnics, lake trips, hiking, and just generally enjoying the outdoors. But having summer allergies can throw a curve on your warm weather fun. There are two main allergy culprits that can leave you feeling congested.

Number one is, no surprise here, pollen. Pollen is in the air 365 days a year, and depending upon what the season is different pollens will be active. Usually the pollens of the spring come from trees and their leaves coming out. Late spring pollens tend to be from grass. And late July and August is weed pollen, mainly ragweed.

Surprisingly number two is mold. Many allergic reactions in the late summer and fall are due to outdoor mold. The warm weather of the summer can often lead to high humidity, which is the perfect environment for molds to grow.

If you suffer from either of these you’re either going to be congested with itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose if you get exposed. So, you can avoid the outdoors, take antihistamines to control the symptoms, get a long acting steroid shot from your doctor to turn off your immune systems response, get allergy shots from your doctor, or try a do it yourself desensitization by short regular exposures that you gradually make longer.

The first thing to realize with allergies is what Margie Profit told us years ago: to our immune systems allergies look like serious toxins. Because of this, and recognizing that the function of the immune system is to protect us from outside harmful substances, we argue here for a different option: let’s try helping our defenses do their job better so that the harmful allergens are washed out before they trigger the bothersome defenses.

The good news is that there is a safe, drug free, non-drowsy way to do this. A popular option is over the counter saline nasal sprays, which are drug free and don’t cause rebound congestion. The unfortunate thing about this option is that the salt in these sprays handicaps some of our defenses. The good news is that using a saline nasal spray with xylitol can fix the side effects that might come with a saline alone nasal spray.

Xylitol, while most commonly known as a sugar alternative, has a myriad of other health benefits, including oral and sinus.

The addition of xylitol to a saline nasal spray helps in several ways. First, it pulls water into the nose and helps moisten the nasal cavities. Where a saline solution often dries them out, xylitol will help keep the moisture in. Xylitol stays in the nose for several hours so this wetting lasts a while; and the increased moisture is the ket to optimizing this washing defense, which removes the allergens. For more on how xylitol works to help this defense read our earlier post here. This post has more to do with infections, but our nasal defenses against allergies are exactly the same–it tries to wash them out and histamine is the trigger for that back-up defensive washing. Hence it is also why we have antihistamines to block the defense. If you block the defense of your favorite football team they will lose the game, which is why we feel strongly about supporting our primary defense–so we don’t need the back-up.

Xylitol works for several hours, but the key in successful treatment is to keep your nose wet enough that your primary defenses are optimal; that means using it regularly, even every three or four hours–whatever it takes to keep your nose clean.

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