Itchy nose, sniffles and sore eye season!

Hay fever/seasonal allergic rhinitis

Hay fever affects around 20% of the population with symptom severity varying from person to person. Symptoms range from a runny nose, itchy eyes, scratchy throat and the roof of the mouth. Some people develop wheezing, coughing and headaches, and some symptoms progress to loss of appetite, irritability and trouble sleeping.

The body’s response

When you come into contact with particles to which you are allergic e.g. pollen or other airborne spores from moulds or fungi, your body produces an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). Antibodies are usually only released to fight infection, but in this instance, your body believes the substance you’re allergic to is harmful and so treats it like it would an infection.

When there’s a lot of the substance you’re allergic to in the air, the IgE antibodies will trigger the release of chemicals from specific cells in your nose, throat and eyes. One of these chemicals is histamine, and this chemical causes the symptoms of hay fever.

Some causes of hay fever include:

Grass pollen – e.g rye, Bermuda, couch, blue grass, paspalum and prairie grass

Tree pollen – e.g silver birch pollen, maple, olive, poplar ash and oak

Weeds — e.g plantain plus spores from fungi and moulds

If you’re allergic to pollen, you may be allergic to more than one type, which will impact on when your symptoms are at their worst. It may be useful to keep a diary to help you work out what and when your allergy is most prevalent, and watch out for the pollen count forecasts so you know when to stop or start your treatment.

Allergen Time of year when symptoms are worst
Grass pollen October - May
Tree pollen October – April
Weeds, spores September - April

Self-help strategies:

  • Try and stay indoors on days when the pollen count is high – this limits the contact you have with the allergens you’re sensitive to
  • Keep doors and windows closed when the pollen count is high
  • Stay away from areas where there’s more pollen such as parks, especially in the early morning and late afternoon and evening when the pollen count is highest
  • Wear good-fitting sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes
  • Take a shower and wash your hair after going outside when the pollen count is high
  • Don’t dry washing outside if pollen counts are high – pollen may get trapped in the fibres of clothes and bed linen

Natural Treatment Options

There is a range of treatments available for hay fever and the Natural Chemist is a great place to start for input and advice.

Supporting the body from the inside:

Supplementing with some key nutrients can really help with the severity and longevity of symptoms. Talk to us about adding some of the following in to your diet

  • Vitamin C – prevents the release of histamine, reduces inflammation and supports a healthy immune system. We recommend Orthoplex Green Ultra Buffered Vitamin C Powder 200g
  • Vitamin A – supports respiratory cells and encourages mucous movement through the sinuses and up from the lungs
  • Vitamin E – helps to reduce the allergic response. We recommend Designs for Health Annatto-E 150
  • Zinc – plays a role in modulating the inflammatory response and supporting the immune system. It also plays a key role in ameliorating the symptoms of allergic rhinitis/hay fever. We recommend BioCeuticals Zinc Sustain 60 Tablets
  • Quercetin - is a potent antioxidant that inhibits hyaluronidase and inflammatory processed while stabilising cell membranes. This in turn can reduce histamine release which is one of the major culprits in allergies. Our Naturopaths' favourite is Orthoplex Green Lymphodran Plus

There are also some effective herbal options to consider:

  • Solidago spp -- contains quercetin, and is a potent antihistamine, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant herb, making it perfect for combatting seasonal allergies and any respiratory congestion. 
  • Albizia lebbek -- Mainly used to treat allergic rhinitis, this herb is able to stabilise mast cells and provides a theoretical basis for its use as an anti-allergic. Combines well with herbs such as feverfew, eyebright and baical skullcap. 

Treat your allergies at the root cause and alleviate your symptoms with one of our Clinical Naturopaths. Book an Allergies Consult and receive tailored, professional advice. 

You can also read more about allergies and how to treat them via our Comprehensive Naturopathic Guide to Managing Allergies. 

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