Hay fever, or seasonal rhinitis, is suffered by many in spring, summer and autumn as tiny grains of pollen increase in out atmosphere. Clinging resiliently to our clothing and hair they pursue us even after we leave the source behind. Incidences of hayfever have risen particularly in cities which is thought be due to the fact that pollution inflames and sensitizes the delicate mucous membranes in the nose and throat making them more reactive to pollen.
Symptoms include sneezing, runny or blocked nose, itchy, red, and watery eyes and an itchy throat. Sense of smell may be lost and blocked sinuses can cause facial pain. As symptoms persist there may be fatigue and sleepiness and general malaise. Asthma may be triggered or worsened by hayfever.
All these symptoms are due to an inflammatory cascade induced by an allergic reaction to proteins on the surface of pollen grains. Inflammatory chemicals such as histamine elicit these familiar symptoms. Factors which make individuals more susceptible to hay fever include genetic make up, an imbalanced immune system, digestive issues, and food sensitivity. Adrenal fatigue, caused by chronic stress, may be involved as this can suppress the body’s natural anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
- To reduce symptoms avoid chemicals, preservatives and pesticides, which might irritate mucosal membranes.
- Avoid foods to which you are sensitive, which may contribute to symptoms.
- To combat inflammation consume a diet rich in natural antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and antihistamines. Include a variety of brightly coloured vegetables and fruits to obtain as many phytonutrients, such as bioflavonoids, as possible.
- Increase your intake of natural anti-histamines such as quercetin and vitamin C. These are found in the highest concentrations in apples, red onions, red grapes, citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, green leafy vegetables and berries, and eucalyptus and tea tree honey.
- To reduce mucous include garlic and onions, and reduce dairy.
- Eat more pineapple, which contains bromelain, an enzyme with natural antihistamine, anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties.
- To reduce inflammation ensure adequate Omega 3 fats in the diet from oily fish, flaxseeds and walnuts.
- Probiotics have been found to reduce inflammatory markers associated with hay fever (Snell 2011)
- Make sure your vitamin D levels are optimum as this is thought to balance the immune system and reduce allergy (Sharief et al 2011).
- If you have been suffering from a lot of stress and feel overwhelmed and are exhausted even though you sleep well consider testing for adrenal fatigue.
- Since pollen clings to clothes and hair, changing clothes and showering after exposure may help to reduce symptoms.
Sharief S Jariwala S Kumar J Muntner P Michal Melamed ML (2011) Vitamin D levels and food and environmental allergies in the United States: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 127(5): 1195-1202
Snel J Vissers YM Smit BA Jongen JM van der Meulen ET Zwijsen R Ruinemans-Koerts J Jansen AP Kleerebezem M Savelkoul HF (2011) Strain- specific immunomodulatory effects of Lactobacillus plantarum strains on birch-pollen-allergic subjects out of season Clinical and Experimental Allergy 41(2):232-42