Sneezing, headaches and itchy eyes. Millions of Americans suffer from springtime allergies. FOX17's Nick Paranjape finds out why Tennessee is so bad in this SPECIAL REPORT and how some turn to alternative approaches to find relief.
Sandra Cruz of Clarksville is finding out what she's allergic to. It's so bad, Cruz avoids going outside whenever possible.
"I'm allergic to all the trees, all the weeds, all the pollens," says Cruz.
The tests prove it, as her arms swell with red spots of what she's allergic to from mold to trees to cats and dogs. Cruz never had allergies until she moved to Tennessee 5 years ago.
"There's something about the geography here that collects pollen and collects a lot of irritants that drive a lot of people crazy," says Allergist Dr. David Hagaman.
He says southern cities have higher pollen due to warmer temperatures which begin in February when things start to bloom, catching allergy sufferers off guard.
"When that happens, a patient gets exposed to it, they're not thinking allergies, a lot of them aren't taking their medicines," says Dr. Hagaman.
For those who do suffer from pollen, allergy shots and medication is the way to go, but it could be months or even years before they see results. That's why some believe in taking an alternative approach to get relief.
Felix Cavaliere is beign treated by a holistic healer.
"I find the more you pay attention to what you're eating, thinking and what you're doing and who you're around makes you feel better all over," says Cavaliere.
Cavaliere is a singer, so when allergies interfered with his career, he turned to Maryalice Kirchdoerffer who doesn't use medication, only a technique through muscle testing.
"The technique that I do finds and locates imbalances and blockages in our energy flow," says Kirchdoerffer.
Many times, Kirchdoerffer believes allergies can stem from stress, not pollen.
"What we say is the issue is in the tissue," says Kirchdoerffer.
For Becca Burgess of LaVergne, the healing is in the honey.
"I eat it off my spoon, I put it on my toast, put it on my oatmeal," says Burgess.
Eating local honey is a common remedy to overcome allergies, but does it work? Scientifically and medically, Dr. Hagaman says there's no proof it does.
"The things we talk about, grass, trees, weeds do not have pretty flowers," says Dr. Hagaman. "They're not pollenated by bees, they're pollenated by the wind, so they get blown into people's noses."
"I don't want to dispute the doctor, but it's a proven fact and I'm a walking poster child," says Burgess.
"I take 2 tablespoons in the morning and 2 tablespoons in the evening," says Heath Parks of Springfield.
Parks isn't talking about honey, but instead apple cider vinegar.
"It's been 7 months since I've had any allergies since I've been taking this," says Parks.
Parks says this age old remedy, said to be full of vitamins and amino acids, works for him, but how does it taste?
"Awful, horrible, horrible," says Parks.
If that tastes gross, this looks gross. Liz McDougal of Franklin is doing the Neti pot.
"Odd, like I was drowning but you get used to it once you learn how to breath through your mouth instead of your nose," says McDougal.
She mixes saline with warm water into a devise and flushes out the allergens in her nasal cavity.
"In the old days people would mix up salt water and snort it up," says Dr. Hagaman. "That definitely washes away irritants, it decongests the nose so that's a home remedy that has some value."
Ultimately, Dr. Hagaman says if it works you and it's not harming your body, then do it. Dr. Hagaman says asthma and allergies have been on the rise over the years. Lots of theories, from global warming to various triggers like diesel fumes. In a recent study on the worst cities for allergies, Chattanooga came in 5th. Knoxville is 1st. Monday, May 9 2011, 11:11 PM CDT