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hayfever

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

 

Over-the-counter 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.

 

Many of the treatments are available over-the-counter such as antihistamines ClaratyneZyrtecTelfast, nasal sprays NasonexBeconaseRhinocort, decongestants and eye drops. All of these will help relieve the symptoms.

 

It is important to get some professional guidance, as some hay fever treatments are not suitable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or for young children, and some may interact with some prescription drugs. Ask us for advice if you are pregnant or think there’s a possibility you may be pregnant, if the treatment is for a child or if you are on any other medication.

 

Get advice from us before starting any medication, call us on 1300 882 303 to discuss your options.

 

Supporting the body from the inside:

Supplementing with some key nutrients can really help with the severity and longevity of symtoms. 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
  • 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
  • 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

 

There are also some herbal options to consider:

  • Sinupret: a combination of elderberry, vervain, gentian, primrose and sorrel – an effective antiviral and anti-inflammatory, helping to clear blocked noses and ease the symptoms of hay fever
  • Bioceuticals Allergy Care: combines herbs and nutrients that may assist in the temporary symptomatic relief of minor allergies. Perilla and rosemary are sources of rosmarinic acid which provides temporary relief of seasonal allergy symptoms such as itchy nose, watery eyes and itchy eyes. Increasing vitamin C and quercetin intake may decrease histamine levels, which in turn aids in reducing allergy symptoms.

 

References 

Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, 2010, Pollen Allergy. Available at: www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergic-rhinitis-hay…

Hechtman L, 2014, Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Sydney

Osiecki H, 2014, The Nutrient Bible. 9th Edn, Bio Concepts Publishing, QLD

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