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Living with IBS: Seasonal Allergies

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Struggling with seasonal allergies and IBS? Here are a couple things to watch out for when using homeopathic or OTC allergy meds

Seasonal Allergies and IBS: Things to Avoid in Allergy Meds - TheFitCookie.com

Spring and allergies go together like chocolate and anchovies: they really shouldn’t be together! Just when I get all excited about the weather warming up the grass and trees make me think twice. It wasn’t until the last couple years that I really started battling seasonal allergies, and oy…it can be downright miserable.

Unfortunately, I have IBS,  seasonal allergies, and multiple food intolerances which make a terrible combination. It’s the perfect storm brewing when springtime comes! I am always on the lookout for natural allergy remedies and I usually post photos of some of the things I’m trying out on Instagram.

Disclaimer: this post is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace the advice of your medical professional.

While I’m still finding natural and traditional remedies that work for my body, I have found through trial and error a few things that don’t work: medications or homeopathic remedies that contain lactose or alcohol (ethanol).

Seasonal Allergies and IBS: Things to Avoid in Allergy Meds - TheFitCookie.com

Last year my seasonal allergies hit me really hard, causing headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and lots of other not-so-great things. One of my first lines of defense was taking over the counter antihistamines, but some of them made me super drowsy (hello, Benadryl hangover) and some of them were bothering my stomach.

I even turned to homeopathic allergy tablets but with the same result – my stomach couldn’t tolerate them.

Seasonal Allergies and IBS: Things to Avoid in Allergy Meds - TheFitCookie.com

It took me a little while to figure it out, but I discovered that I was reacting to the lactose in the tablet itself. It may seem like a very small amount of lactose, but I discovered that I am very sensitive to anything derived fro dairy, especially when my seasonal allergies hit hard.

This reaction was even stronger when I took homeopathic allergy tablets since it generally takes a higher dose at a greater frequency to get the same effect as traditional OTC antihistamines, thus more lactose consumed in a 24 hour period.

Another thing I discovered about liquid homeopathic remedies: any of the alcohol-based formulas caused some stomach problems, mostly because of the alcohol (again, even small amounts of certain kinds of alcohol bother my stomach). This is one reason I ended up having reactions to Iberogast: it is 31% ethanol, which even in small doses really messes up my stomach.

Any sugar alcohols (like sorbitol, xylitol, erythritol, etc.) can be very problematic for people with IBS! Sorbitol causes the most trouble for my stomach.

Seasonal Allergies and IBS: Things to Avoid in Allergy Meds - TheFitCookie.com

Of course there are other reasons a medication or homeopathic remedy might be causing stomach upset, but lactose and alcohol are 2 very common carriers in medications and both cause problems for me, especially if I end up taking them for more than one day in a row. If you have a very sensitive stomach, check out the labels in your supplements and medications.

Check around to see if you can find some alternatives that don’t have lactose or alcohol in them if those seem to be bothersome. Liqui-gel caps seem to work pretty well for me, except that some of them still cause drowsiness.

Some other good choices for seasonal allergies that have worked for me without unpleasant side effects:

  • Quercitin
  • Vitamin C
  • Rootology
  • AllerDX

Some people can definitely tolerate the lactose and alcohol in medications, or the doses are so small that they don’t cause too much of a problem. But if you have IBS and are taking medication on a regular basis, these are definitely some things to talk to your doctor about.

This post is not intended to replace medical advice from your doctor, it is simply my experience. Always talk to your doctor before trying new supplements or allergy medications.

10 thoughts on “Living with IBS: Seasonal Allergies”

  1. I found a solution I hope is going to work for me! This article really has helped me, I’ve been struggling with seasonal allergies, asthma and also very bad seasonal IBS and I’m just connecting all the dots that’s when I take a daily Zyrtec for my allergies. I found a brand called top not nutrition that has an all natural allergy medicine without alcohol or lactose so I’m immediately going to stop taking the Zyrtec and see if this plus a little better IBS support will help!

    • Keep me posted with how that works for you! I’ve tried some really good sinus supplements before that worked well, but they had capsicum in it that bothers my IBS and bladder so I had to stop taking those.

  2. Thank you! I have been battling IBS on and off for 30+/- years, serious allergies for 20+, and food sensitivity (and other sensitivity) issues increasingly for 10-20 years as well, and this is the first time I have found anyone who acknowledges that they co-exist and co-populate. I’m finding food avoidance difficult because my list of don’ts is so long but I’m doing my best. Lately, I find a “cure” for the flareups in a combo of probiotics (carefully chosen after much research) and digestive enzymes (tried in desperation) and peppermint oil and the antihistamine that starts with “x”. Never noticed the antihistamines helping before, probably because I am not usually desperate enough to use them so they haven’t overlapped with IBS flareups before. So tired. So stressed just from trying to manage all this, let alone also function in my real life as a family caregiver and part-time educator. Not to mention the complete lack of a social life or regular schedule. Yippee. Thanks for letting me vent and for giving me hope.

    • So glad you found us Holly! It’s definitely a struggle with food allergies/intolerances, IBS, seasonal allergies, and everything else that comes along with it. My IBS did get a little bit better after I had my hysterectomy last year, I found out I had adenomyosis that was causing problems and I’m feeling better, but still struggling with IBS. Eating lower FODMAP has helped a lot though! My spring allergies have hit me pretty hard this last week, I’m taking all my allergy meds and my head is still hurting every day from my sinuses, and my IBS has flared up again too. But I know that this is temporary, and I’ll keep using and looking for natural solutions. Allergy shots never seemed to help me, but my allergist has some immunotherapy tablets that I might talk to him about. Hang in there, I’ll be praying for you!

  3. I did not improve after about 9 months on a gluten free , grain, dairy and no eggs or potatoes, then I found out my thyroid compounded T-3 and T-4 had wheat starch in them. I spent two days on the phone and my health started to improve after that. I had double checked all supplements never dreaming it would be in prescription drugs.

    • Prescription drugs can be tricky if you have food allergies or sensitivities! It can make a big difference checking labels on those. I’m glad to hear you figured out what was going on though!


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