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Managing Hay Fever

Managing Hay Fever

Melbourne is one of the worst places for hay fever!  Here are some ideas to help you in managing hay fever…

It seemed to start very early this year and I have seen many sufferers at the clinic. Victoria has thousands of grasses as well as native and introduced plants and trees that release pollen and trigger allergic responses in susceptible individuals causing allergic rhinitis – hay fever.

While pollen is an extremely common allergen, but other agents can trigger allergic processes and contribute to Hay fever as well. Dust, airborne contaminants, mold, dust mites, pet dander, cockroaches, environmental chemicals, cleaning products, personal care products, and foods can all cause allergic reactions. Everyone is different in what he or she reacts to. If you have never had an allergy it is still possible to develop one in the future!

Why do Allergies develop?

Allergies are your body’s reaction to particles that it considers foreign. The first time your body encounters an allergen, your body releases immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody specific to that allergen. IgE attaches to the surface of your mast cells, which are found in great numbers in your tissues, such as your skin and nasal mucous membranes, where they help mediate inflammatory responses. Mast cells release a number of important chemical mediators, one of which is histamine.

The next time your body encounters a particular allergen, within a few minutes your mast cells become activated and release a powerful cocktail of histamine, leukotrienes, and prostaglandins, which trigger the entire cascade of symptoms associated with allergies, such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat, cough, etc.

Your risk of developing allergic rhinitis are increased if you have:

  • A family history of atopic conditions (eczema, asthma, hayfever). Allergic disease develops in individuals with a genetic predisposition after they are exposed to environmental factors.
  • Frequent upper airway infections and sinusitis.
  • Frequent antibiotic use, causes alteration to the intestinal flora and changes in your immune system response.
  • Frequent paracetamol use, which depletes your antioxidant defenses.
  • Altered micro flora balance, due to poor digestion, dietary allergens, bad food choices etc.
  • A poor diet, especially if high in sugar and processed foods and lacking in essential nutrients.
  • Food sensitivities. Common allergens include eggs, nuts, fish, shellfish, dairy or wheat.
  • Structural abnormalities such as a deviated septum.
  • Early exposure to allergens or pollutions e.g. parental smoking, chemicals etc.
  • Environmental allergens e.g. dust mites, feathers, animal dander, mold, pollen, grass, fungus spores, synthetic drugs etc.

Lifestyle & Self-care Tips in Managing Hay Fever

  • Breathing exercises may help eliminate allergens and strengthen airways.
  • Use a steamer to help relieve symptoms. Try with eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme oils.
  • Use a Neti pot or nasal wash to flush your nasal cavity of pollens and other irritants.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • Shut your car windows in traffic.
  • Wash your hands and splash your face with cool water when exposed to pollens.
  • Avoid being outside at high pollen times. Shut house windows during spring and especially in afternoon and evenings. Avoid parks & gardens during the late afternoon.
  • Exercise regularly, to support lymphatic circulation and eliminate allergens. If exercising outdoors preferably do this in the early mornings. Intense exercise may be best done indoors, as your increased breathing rate could make you inhale more pollen.
  • Avoid non-synthetic bedding and clothing and choose natural fibres such as cotton.
  • Spray your mattress with tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil.
  • Avoid drying washing outside if pollen counts are high as it can get trapped in the fibres of clothes and bed linen.
  • Reducing your exposure to indoor allergens may also help reduce spring allergy symptoms.
  • Wash all soft toys regularly and your cat if possible.
  • Keep the cat off the bed or couch etc.
  • Improve your indoor air quality, and reduce indoor dust. Regularly vacuum your home, including furniture and mop hard floors.
  • Dust with a wet cloth instead of dry.
  • Air and light rooms, soft furnishings and bedding.
  • Leave shoes by the door to avoid trekking dirt through the house.
  • Wear gloves and a mask when gardening. Avoid touching your eyes, shower and wash your clothes after gardening.

Treating allergies and managing Hay Fever needs to be a multi-pronged approach

Avoiding triggers is important, but to really address your allergies you need a multi-pronged approach including optimizing your diet, improving your intestinal health, and ensuring good overall nutrition. Allergies are a sign that your immune system is in overdrive, and a combination of these things will help to optimize your overall immune function.

An estimated 80 % of our immune systems is located in the gut, so supporting digestive health is essential. If the integrity of your intestinal lining is compromised, and there is a flow of toxic substances into your bloodstream. This causes significant increases in inflammation, causing an increased workload on your immune system.

Diet to help in managing hay fever

  • Maintain hydration and drink 2L or more of water daily.
  • Heal your gut. This has been shown to help alleviate allergy symptoms.
  • Eliminate foods that create an allergic immune response is essential. Consider food sensitivity testing, or an elimination & challenge diet to identify these.
  • Eliminate or reduce pro-inflammatory foods from your diet and eat mostly anti-inflammatory foods to off-set inflammation. Challenging foods during allergy season include dairy, wheat, refined grains, gluten.
  • Eat a diet based on unprocessed, ideally organic, and/or locally grown foods. Eat a variety of fresh vegetables including green leafy vegetables. Aim for 5 cups a day of a variety of colours that are high in antioxidants. Aim to consume at least three pieces of fresh fruit every day.
  • Improve your gut flora to promote intestinal health, support immune health and protect against the development of food sensitivities
  • Eat high fibre foods such legumes, vegetables, nuts and seeds. This is important to assist with eliminating any toxins as well as improving your digestion. Consider a detoxification diet to help with the elimination of built up toxins and to improve liver function to deal with the toxic load of allergy.
  • Specific nutrients can support the immune system, reduce mast cell reactivity, support mucous membrane healing, reduce histamine, restore gut integrity, have an anti–inflammatory effect and modulate the immune response. See Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever).
  • A number of medicinal herbs are helpful to protect against seasonal rhinitis and improve allergy symptoms. Specific herbs are antimicrobial, are anti-allergic, antioxidant, anti-catarrhal, restore the mucous membranes, are anti-inflammatory and support the immune system.

Do you need help in managing hay fever?  Call for an appointment or to find out more…
0403 755 584 or book online 

Angela McTaggart
Qualified Clinical Naturopath
Brunswick Naturopathy

Angela McTaggart - Naturopath, Brunswick Naturopathy