Spring is in the air! This warmer weather is a source of joy for many but for others the change of seasons can be a time of misery and distress. Unfortunately many people suffer from hayfever and allergies and the warming weather releases many of the allergens into the air that lead to hayfever symptoms. There are many things you can do to help reduce the symptoms of allergies and hayfever, but the first step is to understand why the symptoms appear.
Allergies and hayfever are the result of your body being over-reactive to airborne particles, such as dust, pollen, mould, or dried skin flakes from pets. If you suffer from hayfever in Spring, the likely cause is pollen, in which case the symptoms are seasonal and will pass when the pollen is no longer in the air. However, some people may suffer all year round if they are in constant contact with the allergen. Different people react differently to allergens. Despite two people breathing in the same air, one person could develop hayfever, while the other can breathe the same air and have no symptoms. The immune system is responsible for a person’s reaction to allergens.
Let’s take a closer look. Our immune system is a very intricate and finely tuned system. It fights off bacteria and viruses and does its best to maintain our health with the least amount of damage. When we suffer from allergies and hayfever the immune system is working on overdrive. The airborne particles such as pollen enter the body through the mouth or nose and are determined, incorrectly, by the body to be harmful. So to try and dampen its impact on the body, the immune system responds by releasing immunoglobulin E (IgE), this in turn triggers mask cells to produce chemicals known as histamines (as well as some other chemicals). Histamines are then responsible for releasing an inflammatory cascade. It is this inflammation in the localised areas of the nose, throat and eyes that is responsible for the symptoms of hayfever. These symptoms can include:
- Runny, itchy nose
- Itchy palate
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Red, puffy eyes
- Red, irritated skin
- Foggy head
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Irritating cough
- Occasionally can lead to asthma attacks
However, a healthy diet and lifestyle can have a significant impact on the severity of a person’s symptoms by supporting the immune system.
A balanced immune system has been shown to assist in reducing the symptoms of hayfever. Specific nutrients and herbs such as Vitamin C and Garlic, have been shown to assist/support healthy immune function and reduce the symptoms of allergies and hayfever. Echinacea can help support the natural powers of resistance to protect against hayfever.
Other tips that may assist to reduce the symptoms of allergy and hayfever include:
- Avoid being outdoors on windy days (especially during Spring and Autumn)
- Eat a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods to allow optimal levels of antioxidants and nutrients from your diet
- Many naturopaths also recommend removing dairy foods from your diet as these are seen to be mucous-forming
- Use an air purifier indoors to remove any airborne contaminants. The air we breathe indoors is typically two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. It is important to look for an air filter that can remove 99.99% of all airborne particles.