Good To Nose Baraka Blog

The Ozone, Climate Change, Pollen Connection

Written By: Tamara
July 25, 2011

The Link Between Climate Change and Pollen

Climate change is being linked to longer pollen seasons nationwide. It is not your imagination that allergy season has lengthened in the last few years. Researchers have reported a connection between global warming and the ragweed season increasing in North America that may be affecting millions of allergy suffers.

According to a study of 20 researchers published in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ragweed season has extended between 1995 and 2009.

“We knew already that springtime was coming 10 to 14 days earlier than it did 20 years ago. But this new work measures the length of the ragweed pollen season in the US for the first time, and finds it’s getting longer as temperatures rise,” writes study co-author Kim Knowlton, a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council and a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

“The effect is greater the farther north one goes,” she says. “If these warming trends continue (as they’re projected to) under a changing climate, the health of people with severe allergies or asthma could really suffer.”

If climate change wasn’t enough, the American Lung Association explains ozone pollution in the following text. What you see coming out of the tailpipe on a car or a truck isn’t ozone, but the raw ingredients for making ozone. Ozone is formed by chemical reactions in the atmosphere from two raw gases that do come out of tailpipes, smokestacks and many other sources. These essential raw ingredients for ozone are nitrogen oxides (NOx) and hydrocarbons, also called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They are produced primarily when fossil fuels like gasoline, oil or coal are burned or when some chemicals, like solvents, evaporate.

When NOx and VOCs come in contact with both heat and sunlight, they combine and form ozone smog. NOx is emitted from power plants, motor vehicles and other sources of high-heat combustion. VOCs are emitted from motor vehicles, chemical plants, refineries, factories, gas stations, paint and other sources. The formula for ozone is simple, and like any formula, the ingredients must all be present and in the right proportions to make the final product.

In the American Lung Association 2011 State of Air Report they list the 25 worst cities for ozone pollution, we have listed the top 12 of the 25 below:

#1: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA

#2: Bakersfield-Delano, CA

#3: Visalia-Porterville, CA

#4: Fresno-Madera, CA

#5: Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Yuba City, CA

#6: Hanford-Corcoran, CA

#7: San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA

#8: Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX

#9: Merced, CA

#10: Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury, NC-SC

#11: San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA

#12: Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

According to the American Lung Association, the people most at risk from ozone pollution are children, teens (lungs are still developing), people age 65 or older (respiratory and cardiovascular problems are more from ozone polluted air), people with allergies, asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema, people with cardiovascular disease or diabetes and people of lower income (they generally live closer to the source of ozone pollution). What can you do about ozone depletion, a longer pollen season, climate change and allergies?

  • Educate yourself about ozone pollution and climate change and how they affect pollen and your allergies.
  • Be mindful about your own contributions to ozone pollution, how often you drive your car, by using low VOC products, and keeping your use of two stroke garden equipment to a minimum.
  • Use a HEPA facemask, they are lightweight and can help protect your respiratory system and sinuses from the worst pollen and ozone depletion days when doing gardening and outdoor activities if you are an at-risk person.
  • Use a HEPA air purifier to help clean the air in your home of pollutants that might cause sinus problems.
  • Regular neti pot use helps keep our sinuses in good health and aids our body in flushing toxins from our sinus cavities.
  • When you have been under stress remember to use your Sinus Rejuvenation Oil regularly to help support your body’s healthy sinus function.

Check out the Baraka education section for more hints on using your neti pot, infused salt, and sinus oil to maintain your sinus health. Share with us on Facebook about what helps you when allergies are getting you down? Tell us what has worked for you?

 

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Stress, Sinuses and Your Immune System

Written By: Tamara
July 18, 2011

The Stress and Sinus Immune Connection

Emotional stress is probably the single most important factor in determining whether you will experience chronic sinus problems, sinus infections or sinusitis. Why you might ask?  Stress lowers our body’s immune response, or can make our immune system hyperactive (so that it over-reacts to environmental or internal stimulus). Consequently, we have a weakened defense against pathogens and infections.

Do you ever wonder why you are more prone to congested sinuses or a sinus headache when you are under stress? Stress, especially in women, can lower our breathing rate or cause us to hold our breath; when our breathing rate lowers, our oxygen saturation falls and can cause sinus congestion. Many times we wonder why when two people are exposed to a cold or flu, one person gets sick and the other doesn’t. One of the underlying reasons can be that the person who is unable to fight off the cold is under more stress and their immune system is compromised.

Recent discoveries in mind-body medicine have found a wealth of information on the impact of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes and stress on our immune system and overall health. Since stress is a component of life, how do you relieve stress and bolster your immune system?

We would like to offer some holistic tips for managing stress in your life, so you have the ability to be more balanced, grounded and vital:

  • Be mindful of your breathing when you are under stress, make a mental note to breathe deeply and slowly especially when under stress.
  • If you have a tough time regulating your breathing while under stress, try a game such as Wild Divine, a biofeedback game to help positively enforce deep, relaxed and gentle breathing.
  • Remember to take care of yourself first (this is a big one for women, who tend to care for others first), and realize that by taking care of ourselves we set a good example to our families and coworkers. The bonus, we also have more to give when we nurture ourselves first.
  • Make a list of all the activities that make you happy and make sure that you participate in at least one of these a day.
  • Meditation is proven to lower stress levels and improve your immune system, which helps your sinuses stay healthy. 15 minutes a day of slow breathing can make all the difference in the world to your well-being.
  • Hot tubs, foot soaks, massage; finish the list yourself of activities that relax you and de-stress your life.
  • A gratitude list is a wonderful way to focus your mind on the positive in life and help your immune system at the same time. Remember what we focus on increases in our life.
  • Daily neti pot use helps keep your sinuses in good health and aids your body in flushing toxins from your sinus cavities.
  • When you have been under stress remember to use your Sinus Rejuvenation Oil regularly to help support your body’s healthy sinus function.
  • Walking and exercise help to release endorphins sunset in your body, which in turn bolsters your immune system. Exercise tends to lower your stress response and keeps your body healthy at the same time.
  • Deep breathing or exercise helps increase the oxygen in your body which can help support a healthily metabolism.

Check out the Baraka education section for more hints on using your neti pot, infused salt and sinus oil to help maintain your sinus health. Share with us on Facebook about what helps you when stress increases in your life, how do you de-stress?

 

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Indoor Air Pollution and 10 Tips For Healthy Sinuses

Written By: Tamara
July 11, 2011

Indoor Air Pollution Affects Sinus Health

Indoor air pollution is caused from a combination of poor ventilation, outdoor pollutants and humidity. Homes and commercial buildings today don’t breathe easily and can suffer from off-gassing vapors being trapped inside. According to the EPA, Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.

Here is a brief overview of what constitutes indoor air pollution so you can make educated choices about your health. There are many sources of indoor air pollution in our homes and commercial buildings, including:

  • Combustion sources such as coal or wood-burning stoves, gas, kerosene, and tobacco products
  • Building materials and furnishings such as asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products, formaldehyde used in insulation, plywood, fiberboard, furniture and wood paneling, and toxic solvents in oil-based paints and finishes
  • Products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care or hobby products
  • Office equipment chemicals; copiers, computers, printers, graphic adhesives, permanent markers and correction fluid
  • Central heating/cooling systems and humidification devices
  • Gas fired appliances such as ranges, clothes dryers and water heaters
  • Ion depletion or imbalance; too many positive ions and not enough negative ions
  • Microorganisms; mainly from humidifiers, air conditioners, and swamp coolers that can breed bacteria, viruses and mold
  • Indoor particles; dust, pollen, animal dander and animal feces (such as kitty litter boxes, small animal cages or mouse/rat droppings)
  • Radon, a radioactive gas emitted from the earth entering homes through basements, crawl spaces or water supply

Some indoor pollutants are intermittent, while others give off vapors continually. The EPA states, If too little outdoor air enters a home, pollutants can accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems. Unless they are built with special mechanical means of ventilation, homes that are designed and constructed to minimize the amount of outdoor air that can “leak” into and out of the home may have higher pollutant sunscreen levels than other homes. Homes today are built tighter than homes in the past and can limit the flow of air coming in.

Solutions to indoor pollution are many, some easy and others more costly. We offer some suggestions below:

  • Home heating- Avoid the use of kerosene and oil indoors and make sure your fireplace or wood stove is rated for the latest safety issues. Monitor carbon monoxide levels and clean your stove/flue yearly to prevent back-draft.
  • Avoid the use of formaldehyde based building products; use water based low VOC paints and other green building products.
  • Avoid the use of products with high VOC’s (see EPA information on VOC’s).
  • Clean filters in heating, air conditioning and humidification appliances regularly.
  • Invest in an air purifier with ion enhancement to clean and enhance your indoor air quality.
  • Regularly clean kitty litter boxes. Make sure your garage and outbuildings are mouse and rat free. Invest in a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to eliminate pet dander and dust mites. Open your windows on a breezy day to air out your home.
  • Choose personal care products (Green America toxin list) and cleaning products with organic compounds; some of the best spot removers for wash are made from vegetable compounds.
  • Wear a HEPA mask when doing heavy cleaning, to avoid dust, pollen and pet dander.
  • Regularly use your neti pot to flush your sinuses of toxins.
  • Use our Sinus Rejuvenation Oil regularly and help defend your sinuses from both indoor and outdoor pollution.

Avoiding pollution and pollutants in your home is the simplest means to maintaining good health. When you can’t avoid certain pollutants, nasal rinsing will help alleviate sinus symptoms while helping you breathe easier. We look forward to your comments and would like to know how you have solved your indoor air pollution challenges–write to us on Facebook or make a comment on this blog!

 

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Air Pollution and Sinus Health

Written By: Tamara
July 5, 2011

Pollution and Chronic Sinus Problems

Where you live can have a significant impact on your sinus health. Whether the city you live in has good or poor air quality can make all the difference in the world to your breathing, lung and sinus health and countless other issues.

When air quality drops due to pollution, sinus problems increase. People often experience an increase in congestion, sinus pain, allergy symptoms, sinus headaches, sinusitis and other chronic sinus problems. What are the main culprits that create air pollution and impact our sinus health? The chief pollutants include:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Particulate concentration (visible air pollution)
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Nitrogen oxide

Sources of these pollutants include the exhaust from internal combustion engines (such as vehicles, portable and back-up generators and lawn mowers), as well as the improper burning of wood, coal, charcoal, oil, paraffin, propane, natural gas and trash.

Let’s take a look at what cities the American Lung Association rates as having the worst air quality, in their 2011 State of the Air Report, due to high concentrations of particulate matter:

  • Bakersfield, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Visalia, CA
  • Hanford, CA
  • Fresno, CA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Cincinnati, OH
  • Louisville, KY
  • Modesto, CA

Now let’s take a look at the US cities which are rated to have the best air quality according to the American Lung Association with the potential to enhance your sinus health:

  • Cheyenne, WY
  • Santa Fe, NM
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Great Falls, MT
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Anchorage, AK
  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Amarillo, TX
  • Redding, CA
  • Salinas, CA

According to the 2011 State of the Air Report by the American Lung Association, great strides have been made to reduce air pollution in the United States in recent decades. However, despite the progress, 154 million people are subjected daily to air that is dangerous to breathe. If you are living in a city that has high air pollution, it is important to use your neti pot regularly. Nasal rinsing can assist your body in clearing the extra toxin load and support your overall health.

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Are Your Sinuses Sick?

Written By: Tamara
June 28, 2011

What Can Cause Chronic Sinus Problems?

Do you know that more than 37 million people in the United States suffer from sinusitis or chronic sinus problems every year? What makes your sinuses sick? It would be helpful to know, so you can be proactive in maintaining healthy sinuses. Since sinus health affects your overall quality of life, we’ve created a multi-week blog series on what makes your sinuses sick and the available holistic remedies that can help chronic sinus suffers. This week we are starting with an overview of what can cause chronic sinus problems.

What Are Your Sinus Culprits?

Those of us with previous sinus issues are at greater risk for developing sinusitis. Sinusitis is inflammation of the para-nasal sinuses,which may be due to allergies, infection or an autoimmune issue. So what contributes to 37 million people dealing with sinusitis every year? The list is pretty long and includes: getting a cold or flu, cigarettes and other smoke sources, dental problems, fungi, bacteria, allergens and allergies, viruses, structural malformations, air pollution, excessive dry or cold air, indoor air pollution, occupational hazards, immune deficiencies, and emotional stress.

  • Colds and Flu: Bacterial sinusitis can develop after an allergy attack or a lengthy cold or flu. The excess mucous your body produces when you are sick becomes stagnant and builds up in your sinuses, creating pressure, pain and a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Cigarettes and Smoke Sources: If you smoke or are around second-hand smoke, you are creating a situation that can continually aggravate your sinuses and put you at risk for chronic sinus problems and a depressed immune system.
  • Fungi: Inhaling or ingesting microscopic fungi, such as mold spores, affects your immune system and aggravates your sinuses.
  • Bacteria: When your sinuses are blocked it creates an ideal environment for bacterial growth, which prevents the cilia from functioning properly. This causes the mucous membranes to swell and become painful.
  • Allergens and Allergies: Allergens/allergies such as air-borne particles, pet dander and foods can trigger sinusitis.
  • Viruses: A viral infection can damage or hinder your sinus cilia causing mucous congestion and pain.
  • Structural Malformations: Structural problems in the nasal cavities can include a deviated septum, blockage from polyps or a very narrow sinus opening which causes difficulty in breathing.
  • Air Pollution: The affects of inhaling particulate matter such as: carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and hydrocarbons due to air pollution can greatly affect your sinus health.
  • Dry Air: Lack of humidity in your air supply (below 40%) can hamper the proper functioning of your mucous membranes.
  • Cold Air: Cold air can shock the mucous membranes and affect the performance of the cilia in your nose.
  • Indoor Air Pollution: This group of pollutants will be a blog on their own and includes many of the household fumes and chemicals we deal with on a daily basis.
  • Occupational Hazards: Any job performed in dirty, dry, or extremely hot/cold air can make us prone to chronic sinus problems.
  • Immune Deficiencies: An immune deficiency can prevent cilia from functioning normally, making us more prone to sinus infections. This becomes a chicken or egg issue as to whether immune system problems come first or are a result of impaired sinus function.
  • Emotional Stress: Since stress affects our entire body, including our immune system, negative stress can make us more prone to chronic sinus problems by lowering our immune response or making our bodies have a hyper-immune response to allergens.

 

At Baraka, we believe in educating ourselves and then passing on our knowledge to our customers so you can make educated decisions about your health. Look for our blog next week discussing some of the hazards to your sinus health and how to avoid the causes of chronic sinus problems. Here’s to your health!

 

 

 

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Clean Neti Pot- Clean Nose

Written By: Stephani
June 20, 2011

 

sinus infectionBest Methods for Cleaning Your Neti Pot

We are often asked about sanitizing our neti pot, so we decided that a Clean Your Neti Pot blog was probably long overdue.  We have included some basic tips and more importantly our personal experience! Ultimately you can decide on what works best for you.

Since a neti pot is used to maintain healthy sinuses and mucus flow, it is a good idea to clean your pot often. This is what I do:

Before and after I use my neti pot, I rinse it with hot water and flush out the spout.  I tend to use my hand while I’m doing this to ensure any lingering salt or dust is removed.  I hand-wash my neti pot with warm, soapy water only about once a month, and every three months or so I put it into the dishwasher. This is what is comfortable for me, but you may find that you want to do a soapy wash more or less often. There’s no right way. Just be sure to rinse out any remaining soap as it can irritate your sinuses. It is also important to ensure that the pot air dries completely, as water left in the pot can allow bacteria to grow.

If you rinse on a daily basis, your neti pot will tend to be cleaner than someone who only rinses once a week or less.  Where you leave your neti pot will also play a part in how often you need to clean it. If you leave your neti under the sink and one day see mold growing next to it- wash it thoroughly before using!

Another important time to take extra care in washing your neti pot is when you are dealing with a cold/flu or other type of infection. Sometimes mucus can get into the pot and adhere to the inside. I recommend washing your neti pot with warm soapy water after each rinse when dealing with an infection.  You can also pour boiling water into your pot and let it sit for a few minutes before pouring it through.  Do this a couple of times in a row before or after washing it with soap for a very thorough germ-fighting clean.

Some people have asked about using the microwave as a tool to sterilize the pot- we feel that hand-washing with soapy water or running the pot through your dishwasher are effective ways to clean your pot. However, if you would like to utilize the microwave- this is the information we came across while investigating microwave sterilization.  Most bacteria is killed after 5 minutes in the microwave (set on high).  It is more effective to have water in the pot (rather than empty) while in the microwave during the disinfection stage.  Clean the neti pot first with soapy water and then place the product with water in the microwave- this is the best way to ensure you have a clean and sterilized pot.  Allow the pot sit for an extended time after heating for more than 2 minutes in the microwave- IT WILL BE VERY HOT as it retains heat!  Use a towel or oven mitt to protect your hands.

Above all, if you feel it is time to clean your neti pot then it probably is. A nasal cleansing device can never be too clean!

What do you do?  How often do you clean your neti pot? We always love to hear any feedback from fellow neti pot users- so please share with us!

 

sinus rinse

 

Fears of Nasal Rinsing

Written By: Sue
June 13, 2011

Remember Swimming Pool Nose?

In all the years of selling neti pots, I’ve heard one common theme from people who are resistant to nasal rinsing: the swimming pool! As a child most of us jumped into a swimming pool, pond or lake and got water slammed up our noses. It wasn’t pleasant. It burned and for a moment we were frozen in time with what one friend described as ice-cream-face.

The good news is: rinsing with a neti pot doesn’t feel like that at all!

First of all, let’s start with the water. Pure water is acidic to the sinus cavities and that’s the main reason it burned your nose as a child. In fact if someone told me they had a neti pot, water and no salt, I’d tell them not to rinse. By adding salt to the water you are creating a saline rinse that comes closest to the body’s blood pH and therefore won’t aggravate the sinus cavity. If you’ve been brave enough to rinse and it does burn, you’re probably not using enough salt. Check out the proper water to salt ratio for your particular nasal rinsing device.

Secondly, water isn’t being slammed up your nose like it was when you jumped in that swimming pool. Gravity gently flows the saline solution in one nostril and out the other. There is no pressure exerted. Certain types of nasal rinsing devices do push water up your nose such as the waterpik or pressure positive bottle, but a neti pot does not. See our blog titled Nasal Rinsing History to learn about the different types of nasal rinsing devices.

If you are someone who is fearful of rinsing, I suggest you do a few things:

1. Have someone in your life who nasal rinses demonstrate it for you. You can also watch our instructional video.

2. If you do decide to rinse, make sure you use a mineral sea salt. Regular table salt is acidic to the body and needs to be buffered with baking soda. Plus it’s full of anticaking agents, stabilizers and often times iodine. A true sea salt is alkaline and doesn’t have additives. See our blog Why Salt Matters to fully understand this.

3. Call or email us!!! Some Baraka crew members were resistant to nasal rinsing and they’d be glad to tell you their personal story.

In the end, everyone has to make their own decision, but I encourage you to try it. As any neti pot enthusiast will tell you, nasal rinsing changed their life. If you have a great story about how you overcame your fears of the neti pot we’d love to hear it! Here’s a one from one of our stores.

 

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Nasal Rinse During Allergy Season

Written By: Sue
June 7, 2011

mikeyNasal Rinsing- Your Best Allergy Season Defense

After 15 years of educating people on the benefits of nasal irrigation, I’ve found that most people remember to nasal rinse during cold and flu season but forget about it during allergy season. Including myself! Maybe that’s because colds are more dramatic with discolored mucous, a fever or the inability to smell and taste our foods. In other words, it’s obvious that we need to use our neti pot. With allergies, the symptoms aren’t always so dramatic. Often times we just tolerate the irritation of sneezing and sniffling until we are ‘forced’ to take an over-the-counter drug. Hmmm. Let me tell you why it’s important to prepare a good defense for allergy season and not just react to it.

Last week, I suffered my first sinus headache in years with the blooming of Spring. I had been super busy and hadn’t taken care of myself. When I reflect back on the weeks preceding this sinus headache, I remember I had some postnasal drip and was slightly congested at night, but I just ignored it. These were all signs that the inflammation was creeping in, and the more we got into pollen season the worse it got- until I finally woke up with a sinus headache.

Here’s a fact worth remembering: once sinus inflammation settles in, there’s no quick way to get it under control, unless you take an over-the-counter drug. I couldn’t simply nasal rinse and expect it to go away! Had I been rinsing regularly, I may not have gotten to that place. It took a whole day of bed rest and hypertonic rinses to finally calm down the inflammation and thus my sinus headache.

My words of advice: ALLERGY SUFFERERS PREPARE! Once you notice that pollen is in the air, NASAL RINSE. Some of you may do it twice a day, while others may rinse several times a week. Find what works best for you. Throw in a hypertonic rinse every once in a while to relieve any inflammation that may be occurring.

This is what nasal rinsing does:

1. Flushes out excess and dry mucous as well as particulate matter such as pollen.

2. Stimulates the cilia. Cilia are little hair-like structures in the sinuses that keep things moving along. Think of its movement like kelp at the bottom of the ocean. If the cilia can’t do its job, because there is too much mucous or not enough, it becomes a breeding ground for infection. As I mentioned in my blog a few weeks ago, 39% of sinus infections begin as sinus allergies or sinus headaches.

It’s not worth being miserable- as I found out. Just get into the habit of using your neti pot during allergy season and you will breathe a lot easier!

 

sinus rinse

 

Your Sense of Smell

Written By: Sue
May 23, 2011

The Ability to Smell Really Matters!

Until now my blogs have primarily focused on neti pots, sinus congestion and allergies. But if I am to write about the nose, I can’t ignore smell. Why do we get so out of whack when our noses are congested? It could be that we have a sinus headache and aren’t sleeping well, but it’s more complicated than that. Our ability to smell informs us of our world in ways you may not realize.

Rachel Herz wrote a book titled the Scent of Desire. She explains smell this way: if two people were to get in a car accident and one person were to go blind and the other person were to lose their sense of smell, the one who would recover to a productive life is the person who went blind.

This shocked me!! As someone who fears losing my sight over any other sense, I couldn’t believe it. As can be expected, our ability to smell is deeply linked to our satisfaction of food and our sexual desire, but I didn’t realize how deeply it is linked to our emotional states. Those individuals that permanently lose their smell (called anosmia) spend a lifetime fighting depression.

Herz explains that no other sense is so closely linked to emotions. Smells move through our limbic brain, which is the center of our emotions. If smell is absent we feel a strange disconnect from the world and may not even realize it.  On the most basic level, being able to smell is an assessment of what is good and bad. In other words, we approach that which smells good, and avoid that which smells bad. Imagine biting into a piece of meat that is slightly rancid, and not even knowing it. Or not being able to detect the danger of smoke in your own home. I could create pages of examples like this, but I’m sure you get the idea. The ability to smell really matters!

While being a chronic sinus sufferer isn’t the same as completely losing your ability to smell, you can see it may impact you in ways you didn’t realize. If you feel your world is a little off since you began having sinus problems, you’re not crazy. I suggest reading the Scent of Desire to really understand how smell influences your life.

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How Does Pollen Count with Sinus Allergies?

Written By: Sue
May 11, 2011

Pollen Count and Your Sinus Allergies

Since Baraka sinus products sell all around the country that gives me an opportunity to talk with a lot of people about their sinus congestion. During the spring, the conversation naturally turns to pollen and allergies. I’ve found no matter what state I call, each person convinces me their city has the highest pollen count.

Every year the pollen count levels change city to city depending on seasonal rains, temperatures and other environmental factors. Since I’m a research junkie- I decided to find out where the highest pollen counts really are. The cities that always show up in the top 10 are in the Heartland/Southern Regions, which starts in Iowa goes northeast to Ohio/New York and extends down to Georgia/ Mississippi.

What do the worst allergy regions have in common? High humidity, river basins and diverse plant populations. Here’s a great link that explains each region of the country and what makes them problematic. It also has regional suggestions to ease sinus allergies such as a trip to the seashore and mountains.

What surprises me most about allergy season is that people tend to rinse less than they do during the cold and flu season. With colds it’s obvious when we’re congested; we are blocked with mucous that is often discolored and we sound nasally so we can’t deny that it’s time to bring out our neti pot. With allergies, it’s not always obvious. Our mucous may be clear and we may not be congested like we are with a cold. I’ve found that people seem to tolerate low levels of sinus congestion. But they shouldn’t! Low levels of sinus congestion indicate there is inflammation which can turn into an infection, especially if you are susceptible to sinus infections. In fact 39% of people report that their sinus infection started out as an allergy (source: http://thyroid.about.com/cs/newsinfo/l/blsinus.htm). The best way I’ve found to reduce sinus congestion, inflammation and flush out pollen is to use a hypertonic salt solution. Read our blog discussing hypertonic salt rinses.

For more information on our national pollen count, check out this link by the AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America). It lists the most challenging places to live with Spring allergies.

We want to hear from you! Where do you live and which pollens seem to trigger your congestion and allergies the most?

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