Hayfever is caused by an specific allergy to pollen while allergic rhinitis is the more general term for a respiratory allergy to a range of substances; mould, dust, insect droppings, feathers, pet dander to name a few. The symptoms are the same and can include any or all of the following:
- Sneezing, itching, dry or stuffy nose, either running or congested
- Dry, puffy, sore, itchy, irritated eyes, streaming and or stinging
- Dry cough and itchy throat
This can make life very uncomfortable and sleeping almost impossible.
What causes allergies?
Allergies are caused by the person's own immune system, which should be saving its resources for fighting real threats, like colds and corona viruses, but instead decides that it is scared of something like grass pollen or dust. The immune cells activate a chemical called histamine which acts as an inflammatory agent. Your mucous membranes suffer peripheral damage; and what your immune system probably thinks is, 'it's acceptable loss' in this war on terror...
Treating hayfever symptoms
There is a raft of products out there to treat the symptoms of hayfever. These usually focus on trying to reduce already high histamine levels, and on physically soothing the irritated bits of eyes and noses that are inflamed and sore.
Maybe it is more sensible to try and get in there before any of this starts: to lessen hayfever symptoms by strengthening the respiratory system, loosening up any congestion, reducing inflammation that is there already - especially after a long winter of colds and bugs.
Do your eyes or nose feel dry?
Your nose should be moist and lined with mucus. Our snot is not designed to be only a disgusting secretion; it functions as both a moisturiser and a barrier that traps small impurities like dust or pollen and even bacteria, preventing them from entering the body and causing irritation or infection. Your tear ducts do a similar job, lubricating and protecting the eyes.
A dry nose, or eyes, can be caused by many factors, and clearing up this issue will strengthen the physical barriers that will protect you from pollen and its affects.
- Omega 3 – if you don’t get regular doses of oily fish, flax and hemp oil you may be deficient in Essential Fatty Acids. This is very common. Adding these good oils to your diet will lube up those mucous membranes in your eyes and nose, not to mention the rest of you (skin, joints). This will strengthen your respiratory system and help to reduce inflammation.
- Menopause – when oestrogen levels fall, it can mess up the fluid balance of the body and can result in dryness absolutely everywhere. Women may start to suffer from all sorts of sinus and dry eye conditions that didn’t affect them before. Using a menopause support product and bulking up on your goods oils, as mentioned above, may really help reduce these symptoms.
Have you or have you had a cold or a sinus condition recently? Are you still stuffed up?
During a cold or flu infection, your nose and eyes may become inflamed, sore and red. It’s also common to be left with blocked sinuses, and that can linger well beyond the 7-10 days of illness caused by the common cold. Clearing your sinus cavities, evicting congested mucus, and healing any damage done to the mucous membranes is important preparation to be done before the pollen count starts to rise.
- Vitamin C (naturally found in the freshest fruit and berries) is a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. It will help you heal after an infection and numerous studies have found it worked to both reduce the symptoms of hayfever and potentially to help to desensitize the allergy.1 I love A.Vogel Chewable Nature C tablets; they are made from organic, freeze-dried fruit, so are delicious-tasting.
- Echinaforce is a licenced herbal product that is used to relieve the symptoms of cold and flu.
- Unblock any congestion and reduce any inflammation in the nose before your hayfever starts. Try Sinuforce Dry Nose if you experience dry nasal passages. Moisturising and soothing, it contains hyaluronic acid and chamomile extract.
Keeping histamine levels down
And finally, to keep those histamines levels down as much as possible, whatever your best hayfever remedy is start it as soon as you can - preferably 2 weeks before you expect the symptoms to start:
- Nettle has traditionally been used to combat the symptoms of hayfever and skin allergies like prickly heat. One study has shown that it may be effective because of its anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory action.2 Those young spring nettles are nearly out and ready for plucking. You could go foraging (ouch) and make nettle soup and pesto or you could cheat and buy a lovely organically grown nettle tincture.
- A.Vogel's Pollinosan Luffa complex tablets and nasal spray are used to relieve the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and hayfever. The tablets can be used to treat all the symptoms, and the nasal spray is useful too if nasal itching and sneezing is driving you crazy.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is associated with short-term subclinical cardiovascular benefits against fine particulate matter exposure among healthy young adults in China.
Lin Z et al. Cardiovascular Benefits of Fish-Oil Supplementation Against Fine Particulate Air Pollution in China. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2019; 73 (16): 2076-2085