After a long winter, nothing beats being outside enjoying that glorious spring sun! Flowers are blooming, trees are waking up, days are getting longer and with any luck, warmer weather is on the way! For some of us though, spring brings with it a plethora of allergies, resulting in hay fever, itchy red eyes, runny nose and asthma just to name a few! If you’re someone who suffers from spring allergies, you know how troublesome they can be. There are however, tried and true measures you can implement to reduce the impact of spring allergies on your everyday life. These include natural and medicated options, and our advice is to always consult your healthcare provider if symptoms persist.
Causes of spring allergies
The most common cause of spring allergies is pollen. As trees, grasses, weeds and other plants come out of their winter slumber, they release tiny micrograins into the air which fertilize other plants. When they get into the sinus’ of allergy prone people, they cause an immune reaction in which the body releases antibodies called histamines, attacking the allergens, and resulting in uncomfortable symptoms such as runny nose, red itchy eyes, and in some cases asthma and severe shortness of breath.
Allergy triggers & prevention
By identifying what triggers your seasonal allergies, you can take steps to avoid them as much as possible, and reduce their impact as a result. Some common triggers to consider are:
- Windy days - Pollen travels through the air, and is much more prevalent on windy days. Look at the wind and pollen forecast and if it's looking strong, try to stay indoors as much as possible and/or take allergy medications before going out.
- Gardening - Planting, weeding, mowing the lawn and other gardening increase exposure to pollens. Try to delegate these tasks during spring!
- Clothing - Pollen sticks to clothes so if you’ve been outside, change your clothes and take a shower, and avoid hanging laundry outside as much as possible.
- Dust, mould and animals - Can all increase irritation from person to person, keeping windows closed and homes clean is a good idea.
The good news is, several types of natural and medicated treatments exist which can make spring time more bearable for allergy sufferers.
Natural treatments for seasonal allergies
Rinse your sinuses - Rinsing with a saline based solution is a quick and effective way to relieve allergy symptoms.
Probiotics - Some allergies are enhanced by an imbalance in the immune system that causes the body to react more to certain stimuli such as pollen. Taking probiotics and eating gut balancing fermented foods can help.
Anti-inflammatory foods - Foods, spices and teas with anti-inflammatory properties may also help reduce allergy symptoms.
Nettle Leaf - Nettle Leaf contains natural antihistamine properties which naturally reduce the amount of histamine the body produces when exposed to allergy triggers.
Wear a mask - Adding a physical shield between your face and the pollen heavy air can help reduce the amount of pollen you’re breathing into your sinuses therefore reducing unpleasant symptoms.
Medicated treatments for seasonal allergies
Antihistamines - Generally an over the counter medication which helps relieve symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and nose.
Decongestants - Come in the form of nasal sprays, pills and liquids and work by shrinking swollen blood vessels and tissues, relieving congestion.
Allergy shots - Also known as allergen immunotherapy or desensitisation involves regular injections containing small amounts of the substance that trigger the allergic reaction. More information can be found in this article by Harvard Medical School.
What to do if things get really bad...
If you suffer from seasonal allergies and symptoms persist or worsen after treatment, contact your healthcare provider, visit the Emergency Department or call 000 immediately.
For further information and support, visit the below websites: