Nothing to Sneeze At

Williamsburg Salt Spa’s salt therapy area helps guests breathe easier.

Spa-Style Relief

Even if your spa doesn’t offer acupuncture or homeopathy, you may still be able to help your allergy-prone clients with gentle yet effective treatments. For example, basic aromatherapy can be beneficial, alone or combined with another treatment. Eucalyptus is helpful to the lungs, says Hiltner, and lavender, cedar and tea tree oil may soothe nasal passages. Lymphatic drainage therapies may help as well. “The lymphatic system carries large proteins,” Hiltner says. “It’s the sanitation system through the lymph nodes and mucus membranes,” says Hiltner. In fact, any kind of manipulative work to the face may help with congestion.

A unique and time-honored approach to calming allergy-related distress is salt therapy (also called halotherapy or speleotherapy), which hails from Poland. Clients sit in a specially built salt “mine” and inhale the microclimate, which is rich in minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, bromine and iodine.

“Salt therapy brings allergy relief by opening the airways of the respiratory tract,” says Agnieszka Adamska, co-owner of the Williamsburg Salt Spa in Williamsburg, Virginia. “The micro-particles of salt kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. The salt dries out the mucus so you can breathe much easier.” While guests often notice a difference after only one session, Adamska recommends a series of visits. “By coming in on a regular basis they will improve their immune system,” she says, and reports that many of the spa’s clients have been able to shelve some medications after embracing salt therapy.

Adamska retails a salt air inhaler at her spa for take-home use, which clients can use whenever their allergies act up. She also recommends use of a neti pot, a popular nasal irrigation device, for a warm water and salt rinse twice a day. It should be noted, however, that neti pots have garnered health warnings of late; there have been reports of bacteria from water in the pot leading to death in several users. As with any foreign article entering the body, proper usage and sterilization is essential. “Nasal saline can help some people with milder symptoms,” Erekosima acknowledges, “but make sure to clean the equipment completely, follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions and replace as suggested.”

As with any medical issue, if clients come to you seeking help for allergy symptoms, be sure a physician has diagnosed them first. Symptoms of flu and other viruses can be easily confused with those of allergy. “The typical differentiation is that with flu there may be fever, muscle pain and infection. The nasal drainage might not be a clear liquid,” says Erekosima. “Also, if the symptoms go away after a couple of weeks then it was probably not allergies.”

On-the-Nose Advice

Help clients with allergies avoid flare-ups by sharing these recommendations from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation:
• Do outdoor activities before 10:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m., when pollen counts in the air tend to be lower.
• Stay indoors when humidity or wind is high.
• When indoors, further reduce exposure to outside pollens by keeping windows closed and using an air filter.
• Dust, clean all bedding, and vacuum frequently to control dust mites and pet dander.
• Shower after exposure to allergens to reduce traces left on skin and hair.

Andrea Renskoff is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.

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