New Zealand is heading into sunnier seasons, and apart from the return of the warmer weather, that means one thing for many people: hayfever.
The changing of the seasons can often bring about an onset of the dreaded symptoms, such as a blocked-up nose, watery, irritated eyes and constant sneezing.
However, you don't have to suffer these symptoms in vain, as there are a number of measures you can take to manage your hayfever woes more effectively.
What is hay fever?
The term hay fever is actually a bit of a misnomer, as the condition is caused by an allergic response to a variety of pollen grains, not just hay.
The scientific term for this immune disorder is allergic rhinitis, and there are two different types that affect humans. Seasonal allergic rhinitis only occurs during specific seasons, while perennial allergic rhinitis refers to hay fever that is experienced all year round.
People experience the symptoms of hay fever when their immune system reacts to the pollen in their environment, whether from plants, trees or flowers.
For whatever reason, your immune system detects the harmless pollen inhaled into your body as a dangerous substance and reacts accordingly by sending an influx of chemicals such as histamine and leukotrienes into the bloodstream.
This process can lead to an inflammation of the nasal passage, sinus and eyelids which can trigger many of the other hayfever symptoms.
Typically, these symptoms include a runny and/or congested nose, watery irritated eyes, sneezing, coughing and itchy sensations in the nose, throat or roof of the mouth.
Hay fever is actually a very common disorder that many people experience. It can present at any age, but the first signs usually develop during childhood or the teenage years. It tends to run in families.
A doctor will diagnose hayfever from the symptoms that you present, and they may also need to know whether you have a family history of the disorder. Allergy testing and a physical exam of your ears, nose and mouth will be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Hay fever is different to other allergies as it is specifically triggered by an immune system response to pollen grains, which may occur either seasonally or all year round. Other allergies may be caused by a range of other substances, such as dust mites in the home, mold, drugs and certain types of food.
Managing hay fever
There are several treatments and products that can be used to manage the symptoms of hay fever.
While it is impossible to avoid coming into contact with all sources of pollen, you can help to reduce the severity of your symptoms by limiting your exposure and checking out the current pollen forecast in your area.
When it comes to medication, the most common forms are antihistamine nasal sprays or tablets, eye drops and steroid nasal sprays.
Antihistamines can be effective as they block the action of histamine, one of the chemicals that floods the bloodstream during an immune response to pollen. These types of sprays are useful for those who have mild symptoms and can alleviate itching, sneezing and watery eyes – although it may not be as effective for congestion.
Naturally-occurring substances such as quercetin and bromelain can also be very useful for managing the symptoms of hay fever from the inside out.
Quercetin is a flavonoid that acts like an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory in the body, helping to stabilise the release of histamine into the bloodstream and therefore easing hay fever symptoms.
Bromelain is found in pineapples and is made up of a combination of enzymes. It’s particularly useful for reducing inflammation (either from infection or injury), and may help to reduce the swelling experienced by some people as a result of hay fever.
In conjunction with the immune-booster vitamin C, bromelain and quercetin can help to aid the body’s natural response to allergens and soothe the effects of an overactive immune system response.
Botanica Hayfever Gel assists the body’s natural response to atmospheric allergens like air pollution, dust and pollen by delivering active ingredients such as quercetin & bromelain directly to the nasal membranes. It is available for secure order from our online shop.
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Do you suffer from hay fever? If so what usually sets it off?
What do you do to alleviate the symptoms of your hay fever?