Is it finally Spring? Look out for those pollens!

April 1, 2022

With the clocks changing at the end of last month, lots of daffodils around and tiny green sleaves appearing, we can be forgiven for allwing ourselves to think that Spring is finally here. After the last couple of years, we might also be thinking that we can actually get out and about this year too.

Along with a renewed sense of hope and optimism, comes the downside of allergies triggered by pollen. When we were all stuck indoors, some people found they had fewer bouts of hayfever. When we couldn’t travel far, pollution levels dropped and that helped too.

.Asthma UK, the leading asthma focussed charity, suggest that 5.4 million People in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12). (Asthma UK, 2017)

A 2020 study by Allergy UK and Kleenex® suggests a surge in UK hay fever sufferers over the last few years up to 56% of people are anxious that others may mistake their symptoms for signs of Covid-19. Up to 49% of UK population report suffering from hay fever symptoms and up to 37% of people have developed symptoms for the first time in the last five years

Research showed that 56% of people with hayfever are worried that others may see their hayfever as a sign of Covid-19.

It’s not just asthma and hayfever, allergic conditions can present themselves as skin conditions, digestive problems from food allergies and the most severe of all, anaphylaxis. Around 1 in 1000 people experience an anaphylaxis reaction and have to be treated as a medical emergency for what can be a life threatening condition.

Dealing with allergies and reactions can mean avoiding certain food, topical creams, perfumes and more, to help deal with allergies, but there are supplements and other lifestyle changes you can use that might also help alleviate the symptoms and help your body cope.

It is very hard to avoid pollens and airborne pollutants, but there are steps you can take to help minimise your exposure. Simple things like reducing car us and shopping locally can have an impact if enough people do it. You don’t need to be an allergy sufferer to do this! If we all made an effort, the benefit of cleaner air is better for all of us,

What are the most common symptoms of hayfever?

The symptoms can include itchy eyes and throat. Sneezing and a blocked or runny nose, headaches and sinus pain and watery red eyes. Some sufferers will also experience shortness of breath and tiredness too.

If you suffer from hayfever (allergic rhinitis) and around 20% of the UK population do, there are some simple steps that can help you reduce your suffering. Remember, it is not just pollen that can be causing your symptoms, it can be dust, dust mite and animal hair too.

What can you do to help?

  1. Keep an eye on the pollen count on the weather reports. During warm sunny days, the pollen is often higher than nose level in the middle of the day. Early morning and evening the pollen can be sinking down and cause you a problem.
  2. If you have your bedroom windows open during the day, cover your bed and pillows with a large bedspread. In the evening, carefully fold this on itself and remove from the room. This will help reduce the pollen particles that land on your bed and pillows. Ideally, get someone else to remove it and shake it out for you.
  3. If you are outside, wear wraparound sunglasses to stop the pollen from entering your eyes.
  4. Having a shower and a change of clothes when you get in, can help on very windy days as it gets rid of the pollen on your hair, skin and clothes.
  5. If you are dusting, use a damp cloth to catch the dust and pollen, hoover regularly.
  6. Avoid or reduce your alcohol intake, beer, wine and spirits contain histamine, the chemical that can trigger your allergy symptoms.
  7. Do your gardening on cloudy days, many plants and trees produce less pollen when it is cloudy.
  8. When pollen counts are high, do not dry your washing outside as the pollen will stick to it.
  9. Don’t smoke or be around smoke, it can often make your symptoms worse.
  10. If your pets have been running in long grass, try to have them brushed before they come back indoors as they can bring a lot of pollen with them.

If you have previously used over the counter remedies for hayfever, you may have found they make you drowsy and feel unsure about driving. It is worth considering natural solutions that can support the body without the negative side effects.

Over the counter remedies can often cause drowsiness. The good news is that natural supplements can help alleviate the symptoms without the side effects.

Of course, avoiding the allergens is the key action, but that is not always possible. Here are just a few that are worth investigating.

Studies have show that the humble stinging nettle Urtica dioica can help inhibit several key inflammatory events that can cause the symptoms of seasonal allergies. So although you would want to avoid touching it, taking it as a supplement or herbal tea may be useful. Use the fresh young tops of nettles to make an nutritious soup too!

A traditional Ayurvedic medicine, is Tinospora cordifolia, also known as Guduchi, is a large deciduous climbing shrub. Naturally rich in active principles such as alkaloids, steroids, diterpenoid lactones and glycosides. Research has discovered that these compounds have a wide range of properties, the ones that are of most interest to the allergy sufferer are the antioxidant, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory actions.

Having a healthy gut microbiome has been a hot topic in the last couple of years. This colony of good bacteria in our digestive system does so much more than just give us a healthy gut. . The gut brain connection is featuring in a lot of current research as is the role these bacteria play in the immune system. One such strain is Bifidobacterium longum BB536, studies have shown that it may help the allergic response with regards to seasonal allergic rhinitis. This could be a useful addition to your supplement regime.

Often used as a culinary herb in Asian cooking, the aromatic herb Perrilla frutescens has a long history of use in Chinese medicine and is not appearing in a many Western supplements too. It is naturally rich in rosmarinic acid, which may help soothe irritated eyes and an itchy nose.

The mineral zinc plays a role in over 300 processes in the body, including specific roles in the immune system. Research has shown that taking zinc when exposed to pollen can help dampen the allergic response to grass pollen. You can find zinc in a multi nutrient formulation or as a supplement with copper.

Grass pollen is the most common allergen (May to July), but tree (February to June) and weed (June to September) pollens can all produce an allergic response.

Bioflavonoids such as quercetin and bromelain are also popular as they have an anti-inflammatory action. You can find them with or without vitamin C.

Many people find that reducing dairy intake can make a difference as it can be mucous forming for some people. Others find that if you have a spoonful of a local honey every day, help them to desensitise to local pollens, just start slowly as this can aggravate symptoms for some people. Make sure it is as local as possible.

By being aware of pollen counts, what makes you worse, your diet and consider taking the right supplements can all make a big difference to how you get through the hayfever season and allow you to enjoy the Spring.

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