Seasonal allergies are extremely frustrating to treat, as the medications that are commonly used both over-the-counter and by prescription have a host of side effects that make them difficult to use. The most common side effect is drowsiness, which makes it okay to take these medications at bedtime–but what are you to do with the rest of your day? Many people turn to alternative treatment methods and supplements to fill in the gaps left by OTC drugs. One such common treatment is Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 is an unsaturated fatty acid that is necessary for human health, but your body cannot manufacture it. Therefore, you must obtain your dosage of Omega-3, either by consuming it in food or taking a dietary supplement. Foods that are high in Omega-3 include: fish such as salmon, tuna, and halibut; some fruits and vegetables; and walnuts. Omega-3 dietary supplements are also commonly available over the counter in grocery stores, pharmacies and health food stores. Your normal weekly intake should be between 6 and 8 grams.
What Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Do?
Studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids are imperative for proper brain function, and play a crucial role in growth and development for children. That’s why so many children’s multivitamins, baby formula and other products contain DHA and EPA, which are two other names for Omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, Omega-3 has been shown to reduce inflammation, and may lower the risk for some chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
What Are Seasonal Allergies?
Now that you understand what Omega-3 fatty acids are and the role they play in your body, it’s time to understand seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies differ from other types, such as indoor or food allergies, because they are triggered by pollens in the air. These pollens change depending upon the season (hence the term “seasonal allergies”) and provoke a histamine response in the body that leads to allergic rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is characterized by itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and an itchy nose and throat. It’s not serious, but it can develop into an infection if left untreated for too long.
Seasonal allergies are triggered by grasses, trees, weeds and ragweed. Depending upon your climate, you may experience a brief respite during the winter. Otherwise, you can expect this problem year-round. Since pollen can also be carried on the air for several thousand miles, the pollen does not even need to be from your own backyard.
How Omega-3 Can Help
Omega-3 fatty acids appear to calm allergies in two ways. First, they have anti-inflammatory properties, which helps bring down the inflammation in the sinuses caused by the allergic histamine response. Second, they boost the body’s immune system, fortifying it as it has this allergic response and helping you to combat the allergens without developing an infection. Although it does not appear that Omega-3s alone will combat allergies, they should be considered as part of an overall holistic treatment plan. You can take 1,000mg of a supplement 3 times a day while combating seasonal allergies.
Omega-3 also thins the blood and reduces clotting, so you should not take it prior to having surgery. If you have questions about Omega-3, consult with a physician or health practitioner who can advise you further.