Ah springtime – what a joyous season! Lambs are frolicking, new leaves are poking out, and all the flowers are poking out their pretty heads – with loads of pollen in the mix, of course. If you number among the 15 and 40% of the adult population that suffers from hay fever symptoms, you’ll know that this is not exactly quite as wonderful as it may sound.
What Causes Hay Fever?
Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is essentially caused by a hypervigilant immune system. People who get seasonal allergies have a strong immune response to airborne allergens (e.g. pollen), which means that their immune systems ‘read’ these harmless allergens as dangerous, and produce antibodies for this substance.
When you encounter the allergens again, your immune system is then prompted to release histamine into your bloodstream. Histamine is a biologically active substance involved in local immune responses, as well as regulating physiological function in the gut. It helps your body to ‘flush out’ the allergen by making your eyes and nose run, and causing a cough.
So, in layman’s terms, hay fever is your body bringing its A-game to protect you against a perceived threat. The results may not be all that fun, but you’ve got to be impressed by this immense effort to keep all systems running.
Hay Fever Symptoms
So, how exactly do you know whether you have hay fever, or just a cold? After all, the treatments for these conditions differ quite a bit. It all comes down to keeping close tabs of your symptoms.
Hay fever normally presents with a runny nose, nasal congestion, watery and itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, a post-nasal drip, fatigue, as well as an itchy nose and/or throat. What sets it apart from the common cold is the onset and duration of the symptoms, as well as the quality of the discharge (AKA the snot – sorry, we know it’s gross, but that’s what it comes down to!).
Hay fever starts up as soon as you are exposed to allergens, and clears up pretty soon afterwards. The discharge is colourless and watery, and contrary to the name of the condition, there is normally no fever.
The common cold, on the other hand, lasts three to seven days, and takes around three days to take hold after exposure to the virus. It presents with body aches, a low-grade fever and yellow-ish nasal discharge.
Hay Fever Treatment
Treating hay fever essentially means supporting your body in dealing with airborne allergens that are more prevalent in springtime. There are a few ways to do so. You can start by tailoring your home environment to be more allergy-friendly. Here are a few guidelines:
Invest in a humidifier. A humidifier adds moisture to the air, which is, in turn, inhaled by you. This moisture can relieve inflamed and irritated airways, alleviating symptoms like coughing and congestion, itchy eyes, etc.
Get allergy-friendly bedding. If hay fever is an issue for you, steer clear from bedding that contains down or feathers, which can exacerbate this issue. Rather opt for fabrics like organic cotton, wool or microfibres. Also, rather forgo line-drying your bedding in peak pollen season, since pollen can get trapped in the fabric, causing issues at night.
Shower thoroughly before bed. Pollen can stick to your skin and hair. Take a nice hot shower before bed to clean off any vestiges of pollen before heading to bed. Inhaling the steam can also alleviate congestion.
Try allergy-prevention supplements & anti-allergic medications. Consider incorporating daily immune support and/or allergy-prevention medications in your routine. Tissue salt tablets such as Natura Combin Assist Allergy Tablets, can assist in supporting the body in helping to relieve symptoms of mild allergies. For the little ones, there’s Doctor Daycare Allergy Syrup, the perfect hay fever supplement for kids suffering from allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, mild asthma and sore throats.
Knowing what causes hay fever and how you can lessen the symptoms thereof on a daily basis is likely to leave you less congested (and, let’s face it – irritated!), this springtime. Follow the guidelines set out in the article to see which approach works best for your unique body and set of circumstances. You never know, you may just enjoy your least congested season yet!