We love spring, but not the allergens that come with it. Tiffany Brown sniffs around for some relief for spring allergy sufferers.
For allergy sufferers, springtime isn’t that rosy. Itchy, sneezy, runny or stuffy noses and scratchy, sore, teary or puffy eyes are just the start. Many people also experience coughing, itchy throats, headaches, sinus pressure, fatigue or hives as the warmer weather arrives. When spring breezes blow, the pollen from rapidly growing spring grasses and plants swirl around the air, and we enjoy spending more time outdoors, creating a perfect storm for tender respiratory tissues to react to the most prevalent seasonal allergens. Pollens typically trigger allergic rhinitis (commonly known as Hay fever) and can also lead to asthma.
How to manage pollen allergies
Get to know your pollens
At allergy.org.nz you’ll find a chart of New Zealand trees, weeds and grasses and the months they are pollen-fuelled.
Watch the clock
Pollen is usually highest in the morning, so keep windows closed until later in the day. Shut them at night too.
Stay indoors when it’s windy
Pollen can travel long distances.
Drink more water
Not only is hydration crucial for keeping mucus under control and sinuses clear, it deters histamine production.
Get some vitamin D
Studies have shown people with vitamin D deficiency suffer worse Hay fever. It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from food so get some safe, non-burning sun exposure where possible or consider supplemental vitamin D.
Because we’re exposed to a wide range of allergens from many sources, it can be difficult to determine the exact cause of symptoms. You could keep a food diary at home to see if anything you eat is adding to the spring pollen load. Rice, citrus foods, black grams (black lentils) and bananas are all foods shown to make allergic rhinitis more severe.
A histamine-lowering diet may also be something to consider. A number of foods have been shown to alleviate or improve Hay fever symptoms through their anti- inflammatory, anti-microbial, antifungal and antioxidant properties, as well as adding essential nutrients to the
diet such as omega-3 fatty acids and quercetin, a natural antihistamine. Try eating more ginger, bee pollen, turmeric, tomatoes, onion and salmon or other oily fish.
Is it time for treatment?
If alternative or over-the-counter remedies are not working to alleviate your symptoms sufficiently, it’s wise to consult your health professional. You or your child may need medications like an antihistamine, corticosteroid or a decongestant in order to be able to go about your day comfortably. For severe cases of Hay fever, allergen immunotherapy treatment may be an option.