Most people who live in Austin suffer from respiratory allergies. The weather reports always show the pollen and mold counts. One so-called joke is that in the early days of Anglo settlement, native Americans called this area “beautiful place with bad air”.
I moved here in 1986 (after a couple of earlier sojourns when I was young), and within a few years, I was taking prescription allergy medicine every day, all year round. I still got sinus infections, usually one or two per year, for which I was prescribed antibiotics.
In 1997, I moved to Dallas where I didn’t need to take allergy medicine. When I moved back to Austin in 2000, the allergies started up again. That was my least favorite thing about living in Austin. I asked around and decided to go to an acupuncturist who did NAET (Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique).
In each treatment, you hold a vial containing an allergen (food, plant, chemical, medicinal, environmental), and the acupuncturist does muscle testing to determine if the allergen creates weakness in your body. After testing for numerous allergens, the acupuncturist puts needles in your body. (Some use acupressure.) In the next session, you are tested for different allergens.
I had 10-12 sessions, a week apart, testing for everything. Afterward, I carried prescription allergy medicine with me for a year, just in case, but I rarely needed it. I went for 10 years without a sinus infection! I’ve had two since then but avoided antibiotics.
I’ve learned that I am most vulnerable to being overcome with a sinus infection when I spend at least 20-30 minutes outdoors on a windy day when it’s been dry. These conditions occur mostly in spring and fall. Often in Austin’s most beautiful, temperate months of April and October, when the day is sunny and mild and you long to be outdoors, the pollen or mold count is high.
I do a couple of things prevent allergic reactions: If I sneeze 3 or more times in a row, it’s the first sign of an allergic response to something airborne. That’s my cue. I take the homeopathic remedy Histaminum Hydrochloricum, 5 pellets melting under my tongue. That stops the sneezing and prevents any further allergy symptoms.
If I wait a couple of hours, it doesn’t work. I carry it with me at all times.
Also, if I have to be outside on dry windy days, I wear a surgical mask. I’ve gotten sinus infections twice under dry windy conditions when I spent time outdoors. Yes, a mask certainly looks dorky outside a hospital, but I see more and more people in Austin wearing them when pollen is high. I keep a mask in my glove box. It’s much better than suffering.
When I have gotten a sinus infection, rather than taking antibiotics, I’ve go get some acupuncture and Chinese herbs. One time a Chinese medicine professor diagnosed me with”too much wind,” which seemed accurate!
One other thing worth mentioning for prevention: I’ve done the liver/gallbladder flush often enough to have cleared those organs of hardened bile deposits, which helps them work better, and it’s my understanding that that may have strengthened my immune system, which probably helps the Histaminum work better.
I don’t seem to respond to molds the way some folks do, knock wood. I also don’t respond much to cedar pollen that causes the infamous “cedar fever” each winter. I mostly respond to tree, grass, and weed pollens.
If you’re wondering why Austin begets so many allergies, one reason is that the city is situated on the eastern edge of the Texas hill country. The Balcones Escarpment runs through the city.
Prevailing winds from the southeast (Gulf Coast) blow pollens and airborne particles toward Austin for much of the year. The elevation of the hill country slows the winds down, and they drop pollen on Austin.
That’s my opinion, anyway.
It’s also why record rainfalls occur along the Balcones Escarpment, and this is documented. I found this factoid in my research: “The greatest single rainfall event ever recorded in the contiguous U.S. occurred in 1921, when 38 inches of rain fell in 24 hours near Thrall in Williamson County [the county just north of Austin].”
Also, Austin is situated where four ecosystems – coast, plains, prairies, and hill country – meet, so there’s more plant diversity and therefore more pollen.
Lastly, because of cedar, tree, grass, and weed pollens, Austin has allergens circulating in winter, spring, summer and fall.
“Beautiful place with bad air” indeed!