HIAWATHA, Iowa - (CBS2/Fox28) — “We hit kind of a crisis point,” Bethany Gillis says of her son’s allergies. “It was affecting his ability to function at school, he was actually having to come home from school almost daily."
Her twin boys both have severe allergies; she says they try to get ahead of it every year, but weren’t successful this time.
She’s not alone.
“Over 50 million Americans suffer with seasonal allergies, unfortunately,” says Dr. Stephanie Gray, a nurse practitioner with Integrative Health and Hormone Clinic.
Forecasters are predicting 2019 could be one of the worst, if not the worst allergy season yet. Already in the southern United States, clouds of pollen have caused problems for allergy sufferers; the Midwest is expected to start dealing with moderate allergens between now and late May.
Allergens like pollen create your watery eyes and runny nose by releasing histamine from cells inside your body.
Dr. Gray says left untreated those sniffles and watery eyes may turn into a sinus infection.
“This balloon containing water is your immune cell, your mast cell,” she demonstrates, holding a water balloon. “What going to happen if we poke it with a needle? It’s going to explode, it’s going to release water.”
Dr. Gray says medicine is sometimes needed but may not combat the cause like some foods can.
“The skin of onions contains something called quercetin,” she explains. “Quercetin is the best known mast cell stabilizer, it’s going to help that balloon not pop.”
Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelin which can break down those histamines.
There are also some foods Dr. Gray says you should avoid.
“Wine, cheese, cured meats, dry fruits. Even foods containing vinegar like pickles and olives can further worsen histamine issues,” she says.
Gillis turned to Dr. Gray instead of over-the-counter meds for supplements to help her and her family enjoy their spring.
"We haven't had any side effects besides improved skin," Gillis says.