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Hay Fever, or allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction that results in inflammation in the nasal airways and eyes. The reaction occurs when the individual with a sensitized immune system inhales particles such as pollen or dust that are deemed an allergen to their immune system, resulting in a reaction that causes a range of symptoms such as:
- Increased mucus production
- Red, watery and itchy eyes
- Running or blocked nose
- Hives or rash
- Itchy nose, throat and ears
The symptoms arise due to the body’s immune system releasing IgE
antibodies which activate specialist white blood cells to release histamine and other chemicals that cause the symptoms.
Did You Know?
Hay Fever and allergic rhinitis affects around 20% of the UK population and can be caused not just by pollens but food, dust, cat dander or mould. This is where being aware of what time of year your symptoms flair up gives you a good idea of the culprit.
|Time of Year||Potential Allergen|
|Sept-Oct (peak time for moulds; but can occur all year)||Moulds|
|Year Round||Typically, an indoor allergen e.g. pets, indoor moulds, house mites, dust/dust mites|
Once the allergen is identified, an individual can prevent the symptoms from occurring by taking the necessary steps to avoid contact with it by:
- Being aware of the pollen count and when it is high.
- Limit outdoor time in rural areas and head to the coast when possible, as sea breezes blow pollens inland.
- Shower and wash hair and clothes when arriving home.
- Wear sunglasses which wrap around the head; limiting pollens entering the eyes.
- Use a barrier balm such as Hay Max at the edge of the nostrils to prevent allergens entering.
- Don’t dry clothes outdoors.
- Keep windows shut, both in the house and when traveling in the car.
- Wear a cap with a peak.
- If you are still reacting indoors, consider investing in a good Air Filter and a Salt Lamp which may improve air quality within the home and help to eliminate dust, pollens and moulds.
Supporting the body’s immune system to reduce it’s over reaction and decrease inflammation can be helpful in reducing symptoms. Dietary considerations include:
Avoiding foods high in histamine, such as:
- Fermented meats and cheeses
- Vinegar and pickled foods
- Cocoa and chocolate
- Nuts, beans and pulses
Avoiding foods that can increase histamine release or production. Common culprits include:
- Citrus fruits
- Additives e.g. benzoate, sulphites, nitrates
Avoiding foods that may block DAO (Diamine Oxidase); an enzyme that breaks down histamine. Such as:
- Energy drinks
- Green, black and mate tea
Avoiding foods that may increase inflammation in the body such as:
- Trans and processed fats and oils
- Simple sugars
- Grain fed, red and processed meats
Equally you can increase your consumption of foods that are natural anti-histamines or support in the reduction of inflammation. These foods include:
- Foods High in Vitamin C, a natural anti-histamine, such as: blackcurrants, broccoli, parsley, peppers and kale
- Foods high in quercetin. Quercetin is a flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables. It is a natural anti-histamine and supportive of the immune system’s response to stress. Foods particularly high in quercetin include apples, onions, parsley and sage.
- Nettles; also high in quercetin and most commonly drunk as a tea, can also be consumed in soups, or steamed as part of a meal.
- Fenugreek seeds and Horseradish can be effective in the breakdown of mucous and catarrh.
- Foods high in omega 3 fats: flax oil, hemp oil, salmon, mackerel and sardines.
- Turmeric and ginger reduce inflammation, therefore support in the reduction and severity of symptoms.
Additionally, ensure you are well hydrated, as this has helps to dilute the concentration of histamine within the body.
Herb and Supplement Support
- Quercetin; natural anti-histamine, taken with Bromelain can aid in absorption and reduce inflammation.
- Pine Bark; containsthe plant extract Pycnogenol shown to reduce nasal and eye symptoms and support the body to a normal response to allergens.
- Vitamin C; natural anti-histamine and immune system support. Ideally taken with bioflavonoids to enhance absorption.
- Stinging Nettle; naturally high in quercetin.
- Fish Oils; supports in the regulation of the immune system, anti-inflammatory and aids the stabilisation of cell membranes involved in histamine release.
- Probiotics; studies have shown they support in the reduction of hay fever symptoms, especially taken at least a month before the Hay Fever season.
- Luffa; may reduce nasal symptoms.
- Turmeric; natural anti-inflammatory and has been shown to prevent mast cells from releasing histamine, therefore supporting the reduction of symptoms.
- Local Honey; a tablespoon a day all year round of unrefined, unpasteurised and unfiltered local honey is reported to have the most benefit; said to desensitize the immune system to local pollens. Despite no scientific study to back this claim, many individuals have found it to give them symptom relief.
Homeopathic Remedies and Symptoms
- Nat Mur; violent sneezing, eyes smarting, itching in ears.
- Euphrasia; swollen eyes, with burning and discharge.
- Gelsenium; sneezing, eyes heavy, puffy, watery.
- Pulsatilla; bland yellow nasal discharge, better outside.
- Silica; stuffed up nose especially in morning, chilly.
- Schuessler Tissue Salts- combination H.