Every year as winter turns to spring, many people rejoice at the promise of warmer days to come.
But if you suffer from hay fever, you may look upon this time with a little less fondness.
The dirt on hay fever
Hay fever is an acute inflammation of the nasal passages which usually occurs seasonally and is often caused by pollens or other airborne allergens such as dust mites.
Signs and symptoms, which generally occur soon after exposure to pollens, can include:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy eyes, nose or roof of mouth
- Sinus pressure and facial pain
What’s behind hay fever?
Why do some people suffer from hay fever while others don’t?
Those that suffer from hay fever have, at some point, had their immune system mistakenly identify a harmless airborne substance (like pollen) to be harmful. This is a process called sensitisation.
After sensitisation, and on exposure to an allergen, the body produces chemicals such as histamine which lead to symptoms traditionally experienced in hay fever.
Does a runny nose always equal hay fever?
Hay fever can sometimes be confused with other conditions that can cause a runny nose, such as the common cold or flu virus.
Colds develop five to seven days after being exposed to a cold virus, and symptoms can include a runny nose with watery or thick yellow discharge and fever.
Allergies, on the other hand, have no associated fever and generally occur soon after exposure to pollen.
Natural relief for hay fever symptoms
Studies have shown that vitamin C supplementation has an antihistamine effect. Vitamin C also plays a role in supporting the immune system.
Horseradish and garlic
This is a traditional combination of herbs which is used to ease congestion. Horseradish is traditionally known as a decongestant and may help to provide relief from a blocked up nose. Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties which may be useful for inflamed nasal passages. It also has an immune enhancing effect.
Vitamin A is useful in maintaining the health of mucous membranes. This can be particularly beneficial in hay fever if there is constant inflammation of the mucous membranes.
Lifestyle factors that can help with hay fever:
- Be sure to eat a healthy whole food diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. A good diet can ensure you are armed with all the vitamins and minerals which may be helpful in hay fever symptom relief
- Reduce or cut out dairy foods. They are considered to be mucus producers and may increase the amount of mucus produced during hay fever bouts
- Minimise your exposure to pollens and moulds where possible
- Avoid going outside on windy days, especially during spring when the pollen count is high
- Use essential oil inhalations. Combine essential oils such as tea tree, eucalyptus or lemon myrtle with boiling water in a bowl. Place your head over the bowl and inhale the steam. This can help to loosen up the mucus and get you breathing easier