Seasonal allergies are typically common from early spring until late summer but some people even experience allergies all year round. Seasonal allergies occur when outdoor molds release their spores and trees and grass release their pollen into the air to fertilize other plants.
You know the symptoms all too well but what’s going on?
The immune system is responding to airborne particles that causes symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, sore throat or mucous, even all of them at once! You can develop allergies at any age. Children with allergies can also cease to have them as they get older.
- When we Inhale pollen, the immune system “assess this and processes it” as it does with everything we encounter – that’s its job.
- It then activates parts of the immune system that are located on the skin and mucous membranes –like the sinuses, nose and respiratory tract.
- Makes IgE antibodies to defend itself – antibodies produce histamine
- It is the histamine that causes symptoms like watery eyes and mucous production or makes us sneeze.
However the immune system is actually “over reacting” to something it perceives as a threat.
So why do some people get allergies? Why are allergies increasing?
Research shows that children born into large families, had a pet or lived on a farm have less allergies because exposure to a variety of germs have a protective effect. We have moved more towards urban living with smaller families.
We are more susceptible to allergies if our immune system is low or if we are under stress of any kind like physical, emotional or mental stress.
Our gut function plays a big part in our immunity behaves as 70% of it is located in our gut! Disruptions to gut function can come from medications or long term antibiotic use and stress.
Environmental climate change- diesel fumes can stop pollen dispersing into the upper atmosphere. Ragweed pollen is increasing in areas where it was previously uncommon.
How do we manage symptoms?
Avoiding the allergens is the most obvious but not always realistic. Over the counter (OTC) antihistamines are very effective for some but come with side effects of drowsiness. Anti-histamines don’t stop the histamine they just deactivate it/block it so you are just supressing the symptoms.
Support your immune system and specifically gut health all year round with Kefir, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, and sourdough bread. However, if you have hay fever symptoms then now is not the time to start fermented foods as they too can increase histamine in affected in certain people. Rather introduce in a preventative way from late winter. Remember these are foods we can aim to eat a little of all the time.
- Onion, apples and celery have quercetin in them which helps manage histamine.
- Anti-inflammatory foods – ginger, oily fish, turmeric spice and pineapple (bromelain)
- Vitamin C – in berries and peppers reduces histamine
- Vitamin D as low levels are associated with allergies and upper respiratory tract conditions
- Foods to avoid that increase histamine include smoked/ cured meats and aged cheeses. Wine beer and champagne and in some even avocado and spinach.
- Local honey has been cited as useful for allergies although the research is very mixed. Also honey is a sweetener so be cautious with blood sugar issues.
- Monitor the pollen forecast
- Shower before bedtime
- Steam inhalation with eucalyptus oil or Invest in a dehumidifier
- Avoid drying clothes outdoors when pollen count is high
- Check for indoor molds