Timely Tips to get you through the Allergy Season this Spring
Sneezing, watery, itchy and irritated eyes, runny nose and sometimes a cough – all of these familiar symptoms mean spring is in the air. However, whilst many of us gleefully embrace spring, a large number of people will be dreading the onset of hay fever symptoms that the changing season brings and the ongoing battle to manage them throughout the season.
One in five of us now suffer from hay fever, and the UK has been identified as one of the highest prevalence countries in the world with over 20% of the population affected by one or more allergic disorder.
Dr Ross Walton, immunologist and founder of A-IRCR.com has been investigating how allergens impact airway diseases such as asthma and allergies. He believes that climate change has a pivotal role to play, saying, “Environmental changes, including global warming, are impacting allergic responses. A shift in temperature and weather patterns have had a significant impact on plant growth, altering pollen-producing periods and prolonging allergy seasons. Higher concentrations of CO2 (Carbon dioxide), a major growth factor for plants, trees and other flora, in the air due to climate change may also lead to more severe symptoms for sufferers.
“Furthermore, the more frequent extreme weather conditions observed, such as thunderstorms and wildfires, can exacerbate allergies and allergic asthma. Climate change is also likely to cause a shift in the types of allergies experienced by people, with moulds and fungi becoming more prevalent. This means that, unfortunately, we are going to see an increase in the global burden of allergy sufferance due to climate change in the next few years.”
Environmental management through improving the local environment and the diversity of the fauna and flora around us is vital; but, despite the rise in allergens, individuals can still take action and make practical and simple changes to their diet and lifestyle that will have a positive impact:
Invest in your gut microbiome:
Dr Walton advises, “The gut microbiome, is a complex ecosystem of microorganisms populating the human digestive system, is increasingly being recognized as a crucial factor regulating the immune system and maintaining good health. Recent research suggests that alterations in gut microbiota diversity and composition may be linked to the occurrence and severity of allergic diseases. Individuals with allergies have been found to have different gut microbiota composition compared to non-allergic individuals.
Additionally, interventions aimed at promoting gut microbiota diversity, such as prebiotics and probiotics, eating fermented foods and avoiding complex sugars which promote the expansion of unhelpful bacteria, have shown promise in alleviating allergy symptoms. These findings emphasise the critical role of maintaining gut health in the management of allergic diseases.”
Protect your sleep:
The worse your allergy is, the worse your sleep can be. Irritated nasal passages due to congestion and sneezing can all impact on quality of sleep. Alison Cullen, Nutritional Practitioner at A. Vogel says, “We know that the loss of sleep can impact on every area of our life, so making sure we protect our sleep environment is vital. Also, night-time immune activity strengthens adaptive immunity, as sleep reinforces the ability to remember how to recognise and react to dangerous antigens.”
- Shower before bed to remove any allergens such as pollen from your body.
- Close all windows and doors to keep allergens away from your sleeping area.
- Change your laundry routine and, instead of drying clothes outside on high pollen days, dry inside.
- Wet dust your room to remove pollen on surfaces, particularly on high pollen days.
- Regularly change your vacuum bag if you use a bagged version, and if you other types make sure filters are cleaned well to remove pollen and allergens.
- Try A. Vogel Dormeasan Sleep, containing traditional herbs valerian and hops which relieve sleep disturbances and help improve sleep quality.
Classically, studies have shown that people living in rural areas, with greater exposure to diverse flora and fauna, have lower rates of allergies compared to their urban counterparts. Recent studies looking at frequency and severity of allergy symptoms in a population of sufferers has linked the most frequent and severe symptoms to those living or being present in the most built-up and polluted areas.
“Urbanisation has long been associated with a higher incidence and severity of allergies in the population,” says Dr Walton. “The lack of exposure to diverse microorganisms, including those found in natural environments, and poorer air quality is thought to drive this phenomenon. By promoting exposure to diverse flora, particularly in urban environments, we may be able to alleviate the burden of allergies on individuals and society as a whole.” Dr Walton recommends:
- Get exposed – stay in your local area and try to gain exposure to diverse flora which can help reduce the risk and severity of allergies over time. To do this, try spending more time in green spaces, gardening, and engaging in other outdoor activities.
- Don’t give up on exercise – regular exercise helps support your immune system so don’t give up during the hay fever season. If you exercise outdoors, try and do it early morning or late evening, as most pollen peaks around noon or early evening. You can find out what the pollen count is in your area by visiting the A.Vogel Pollen Hub.
- Practical protection – wearing Vaseline around your nose to prevent allergens advancing up the nasal passages and wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes may help make you more comfortable when exercising outdoors, gaining the desensitisation benefits of exposure to local allergens.
Diet savvy choices reduce the allergen load:
- Chew your food – Simple food changes such as how we eat can help – just by chewing your food thoroughly your digestive responses will be stronger and offer faster satiety.
- Reduce refined / processed foods – reduce your dietary intake of refined sugars and processed foods. Refined sugars feed unfriendly flora, so cut them back for a happier gut and immune system. Ditching processed foods and eating foods with high nutritional value improves immunity response to allergens.
- Savvy swaps – think about the food you eat in terms of how healthy it is. It’s not always easy to afford organic food, but making small swaps to reduce pesticide exposure will help. Check out the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of foods, these are the foods that contain the highest concentration of pesticides: either because their thin skins and high water content mean they absorb pesticides easily, or because they tend to have the most pesticides used on them.
- Avoid histamine rich foods – If you are histamine-sensitive, reduce your exposure to high histamine foods such as: alcoholic drinks, sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, kombucha, yoghurt, olives, cured meats, sour cream, buttermilk, aged cheeses, dried fruit, citrus fruit, avocados, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, aubergine, spinach, tomato, tuna, anchovies and sardines. Bananas, pineapple, papaya and strawberries may also trigger histamine release. If you are histamine sensitive it is likely that you will have far more dramatic symptoms, and the list of high histamine foods may well trigger responses such as rashes or feeling queasy or otherwise unwell.
Over the counter support
There are a number of symptom-dampening products from A. Vogel that can help support allergy sufferers, relieving debilitating symptoms caused by allergies, from tablets and tinctures to eye drops. These are available from www.avogel.co.uk and selected products are also available at Boots, Holland & Barrett, Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco and from independent pharmacies and health food stores.
Pollinosan Hayfever Eye Drops, £12.99, 12ml Drops
A soothing solution for red, burning, itchy eyes as a result of hayfever-causing allergens. Like the rest of A.Vogel’s eye drop range, these drops can be used with contact lenses and are suitable for vegans. Contains a combination of hyaluronic acid and chamomile and are preservative free. Suitable for children from age 7 upwards.
Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets 120s £10.85
Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets is a homeopathic medicinal product used within the homeopathic tradition to relieve the symptoms of hayfever and other forms of allergic rhinitis. It is non-drowsy and won’t affect your ability to drive or use machinery. Suitable for children over 12 years of age. Always read the leaflet. Contains: Ammi visnaga 1x, Aralia racemosa 2x, Cardiospermum halicacabum2x, Larrea mexicana 2x, Luffa operculata 6x, Okoubaka aubrevillei 2x, Galphimia glauca 3x. Available from Holland & Barrett and independent health stores nationwide
Extra Moisturising Eye Drops £12.99
Eyes can become dry and irritated as a result of a number of factors in our modern world. Working long hours at a computer screen, air-conditioning and pollution are all contributory factors. A.Vogel Extra Moisturising Eye drops contain Hyaluronic acid and Euphrasia, and can be used to relieve very dry, irritated or tired eyes. The unique delivery system of these eye drops presents one drop at a time and the bottle is especially sterile to avoid preservatives, ensuring that the drops can be used continuously and intensively. These drops are suitable for vegans, and help maintain lubrication of the eyes. They are also suitable for use whilst wearing contact lenses.
Available from: Holland & Barrett and independent health stores nationwide
Immune Support 30 tablets £12.95
Immune Support tablets is a vegan food supplement that provides vitamin D3, zinc, vitamin C and nasturtium extract. Zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin C contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system, so are all much needed not only in cold & flu season but throughout the year. Convenient one-a-day tablet.
Available from Boots and health stores & pharmacies nationwide.
A. Vogel Dormeasan Sleep Drops, 50ml, £11.49
A traditional herbal medicinal product containing a combination of fresh herb extracts of valerian and hops used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances resulting from mild anxiety exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy.
Available from Boots and heath stories and pharmacies nationwide.