Seasonal allergies (seasonal allergic rhino-conjunctivitis (ARC) or hay fever) are caused by an inflammatory reaction in the body to the presence of an allergen. Unlike perennial allergies triggered by year-round allergens (dust mites, animal fur …), seasonal allergies are caused by pollen. The challenge is to determine which pollen, as there are three kinds: tree, grass and herbaceous pollen.
What to do
The only way to find out exactly which allergen is responsible for your symptoms is to undergo a series of tests. Your doctor can refer you to an allergy specialist or you can find ‘self-diagnosis’ kits at your pharmacy.
Spring heralds the start of the allergy season when trees start to come into flower. However, the risk of seasonal allergies remains high until the end of summer as herbaceous plants continue their pollination until the beginning of autumn. Which are the key months? The pollen season generally peaks between May and August though periods of risk depend on the region and the weather. Part of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), the National Allergy Bureau provides accurate information on pollen levels throughout the United States, using over 90 counting stations, and reflecting current weather events.
What to do
Consult the high pollen count maps (on the AAAAI website) as soon as the warm weather arrives. Avoid walking in the countryside, protect your eyes with sunglasses and close your windows to prevent pollen from coming indoors.
Seasonal allergies weaken the immune system. It therefore makes sense to give it some help in fighting the symptoms of allergic reactions. Certain dietary supplements combine anti-allergy plant extracts with phytonutrients that boost immune and respiratory health and so combat the symptoms of allergy.
What to do
Adopt a healthy lifestyle all year round and regularly consume probiotics to restore the balance of your gut flora as it is plays a direct role in the efficacy of your immune system.
Even though seasonal allergies are not usually serious, they still make life difficult and cause additional fatigue. Since avoiding allergens completely is very difficult, antihistamines are normally recommended for relieving symptoms. Another option is phytotherapy. Certain plants, such as Capparis spinosa (caper bush) or Ribes nigrum (blackcurrant bud absolute) have anti-inflammatory properties and Capparis spinosa also has active principles with antihistamine properties. Another possibility is desensitisation.
What to do
Don’t wait until symptoms appear – take action at the beginning of spring with a course of dietary supplements containing targeted plant extracts.
A phenomenon called cross-reactivity can occur between some types of pollen and certain foods, primarily fruits and vegetables. Intolerance to pollen can thus sometimes cause an allergic reaction of varying severity (itching, swelling…) in the mouth and throat. 30% of those who suffer from seasonal allergies may be affected. The main combinations to avoid are:
What to do
If you know which type of pollen you are allergic to, avoid eating the fruits and/or vegetables that trigger cross-reactions with that pollen.
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