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Lift your glass to allergy relief

The birds are singing and flowers are in bloom. But the minute you step outside to enjoy the beauty of spring, the sniffling and sneezing start. Once again, pollen forces you inside to watch the world through your windows.

Relief for your distress could be nearer than you think - as close, in fact, as your kitchen sink. Your allergy symptoms may really be a sign of thirst.

That's the opinion of Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D., author of the book Your Body's Many Cries for Water. He suggests you prevent the discomforts of allergies by drinking more water.

The substance that regulates the way your body uses water is called histamine. If you don't drink enough water and become dehydrated, your body wants to correct the problem. It does this by releasing an extra dose of histamine that has been stored for other uses.

This causes watery eyes and a runny nose. You may be tempted to take an antihistamine to dry them up, but this medication can produce some unpleasant side effects - like dry mouth, drowsiness, headache, and nausea.

In fact, Batmanghelidj believes antihistamines may be dangerous because they, interfere with the body's natural attempts to correct the underlying problem. Instead of popping a pill, try these tips from Dr. B. (as he calls himself on his web site at (www.watercure.com).

Drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. That's pure water - not alcohol, tea, coffee, or cola. Limit orange juice to one or two glasses a day, and don't include it in your water count. "The potassium content of orange juice is high." says Dr. B. "High loads of potassium in the body can promote more than the usual histamine production."

Open your kitchen cabinet, not your medicine cabinet. Reach for something less expensive than the antihistamine you buy at the drugstore. "Salt," says Batmanghelidj, "is a natural antihistamine. People with allergies should begin to increase their salt intake to prevent excess histamine production."

Be patient. You'll probably find it takes one to four weeks before YOU start noticing a change. Don't try to speed up the process by drinking more than the recommended six to eight glasses of water.

"First and foremost," says Dr. B., "do not imagine you could reverse the situation if you now drown yourself in water. Not so!" It takes a while for your cells to soak up the water and rehydrate your body.

Most people, according to Dr. B., have lost the ability to tell when they are thirsty. Once your body adjusts to having plenty of water, you should notice your natural thirst returning. You may then find you want more than eight glasses a day. That's okay - but let it happen naturally.

Drink the most around meal times. While you should drink water any time you're thirsty, Dr. B. suggests you drink one glass one-half hour before meals. Have another glass two and a half hours after each meal. Add two more glasses around your heaviest meal or before you go to bed.

All this water keeps your blood from becoming too concentrated after you've digested a lot of food. Without enough water flowing through your system, the thicker blood pulls water from the cells around it, and you can become dehydrated. And, as Dr. B. points out, allergies arc just one of several conditions caused or aggravated by dehydration.

Tap a handy water supply. Water from your kitchen sink may be your best source of drinking water. If you depend on bottled water, you may run out. You arc then likely to wait longer and not drink enough.

If there's a chance your water is contaminated, have it tested. You may need to install a water filter. If a chlorine taste puts you off, let some water sit in an open pitcher until the chlorine evaporates.

Don't let pollen or other allergens spoil your fun. Just sit back and sip those extra glasses of water. Before long, you'll be able to breathe easy when you go outside.

     
     

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Lift your glass to allergy relief

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