Spring has finally sprung and with the blossoms and blooms comes the ha-ha-ha-tchoo of the most common allergy found in healthy individuals, hello hay fever. For some people it can be downright debilitating and lead to very serious secondary complications that can impair quality of life.
What is hay fever?
For some people, a change of season into springtime is reason enough to want to run, hide and wrap their bodies in cling film. Living in a bubble isn’t an option. Just ask Kiara, a recently engaged, young and vibrant graphic designer from Kloof in KwaZulu-Natal.
“I’ve suffered with seasonal allergies for as long as I can remember. Painful, swollen sinuses, bright red nose that would run constantly, itchy and puffy eyes with sneeze marathons. These have been the bane of my existence. This was until I discovered A.Vogel’s Pollinosan and Pegasus histamine comp. These products have turned my life around within a matter of weeks. Now, for the first time, I can say that I truly look forward to spring!” says Kiara.
That’s our pleasure Kiara! It’s interesting to note though that hay fever involves neither hay nor a fever. It’s the popular name given to something called seasonal allergic rhinitis. Caused by the seasonal peak in pollen in the air, it usually starts to affect people just after the age of six years old who are allergic to the different types of spores released by grasses, plants, and trees during flowering season. It happens when flowers are around or when the pollen count is high and tends to happen when the season’s change during the early autumn and spring seasons.
Perennial allergenic rhinitis is something slightly different. This happens throughout the year. Onset is often from birth. The allergic reaction is caused by dust mites, mould spores, animal dander or more specifically the saliva of the animals on their fur, cockroach and other insect droppings, and things of that nature are breathed into the lungs through the nasal passages.
Listen to the podcast here: Hay fever
Chemicals and toxins from aerosols including cigarette smoke, perfumes, detergents, and other airborne particles might also aggravate and inflame the airways and mucosal membranes in the nasal passages, making it worse.
Two thirds of people who have seasonal allergies also have year-round persistent allergies. Allergic asthma, allergic conjunctivitis and atopic dermatitis are also common and are often triggered by hay fever.
Whether it’s perennial, seasonal or both, allergic rhinitis happens when the body’s immune system over-reacts to things called allergens. In the case of hay fever, it’s the seasonal pollen that typically poses no issues to most people.
Did you know?
- The word rhinoceros comes from Greek words for ‘rhino’ which means nose and ‘ceros’ meaning horn. The name in English therefore translates to nose horn.
- In healthcare, an infection of the mucosal membranes of the nose (which are all connected to the eyes, ears and throat) tend to include the word ‘rhin.’
- Seasonal allergic rhinitis is caused by a reaction to pollen in the nose for example. The mucosal membranes become inflamed because of an allergy to pollen which causes a reaction in the nasal passages.
- Colds are different and are caused by viruses. Rhinoviruses which initially infect the nasal passages are believed to cause up to 40% of all common colds.
What causes hay fever?
Hay fever and other allergies are on the rise globally. There are many theories as to why. Scientists believe that there are several contributing factors that are getting worse over the generations. We need to start getting more active and spending more time in nature, stop relying so much on antibiotics and antibacterial products, look at our diets and the health of our microbiome, and start drinking more good quality water. Could it be that our bodies are forgetting how to respond appropriately to nature?
Whatever the reason, hay fever is caused by an excessive and inappropriate response by your immune system to pollen, which it classifies as foreign substances or dangerous poisons after breathing them in. It exaggerates the response by activating specialist cells in the immune system called mast cells, and produces a substance called histamine.
This causes a cascade of immune responses resulting in allergy misery. In other words, your immune system that usually protects you, starts to harm you for no apparent rhyme or reason. Each person’s immune system responds differently.
The histamine causes the primary inflammatory response. This creates the itchiness of your skin and upper throat, the swelling in your throat, the extreme wateriness of your eyes and nose as well as the constant sneezing. This uses a lot of energy, making you feel drained, exhausted, and fatigued. It may interrupt your sleep, result in headaches, and make you feel irritable, impacting your quality of life. It might feel a lot like the common cold or sinusitis.
Antihistamines are often prescribed. The long-term and prolonged side effects of antihistamines are well researched and documented. They are therefore not always a viable treatment option.
This is when you might want to consider A.Vogel Allergy Formula. It worked for Vitsky’s son who suffered from rhinitis which is chronic irritation and swelling of the mucous membranes in the nose. “My son who is 14 years old has suffered with rhinitis since age six years old. We have tried almost everything from antihistamines to nebulizers. He started taking the drops a few months ago and his symptoms have reduced dramatically. Thank you, Dr Vogel!”.
Fast facts about hay fever:
- 26% of South Africans reportedly suffer from hay fever.
- 40% of adults say that hay fever made it difficult to do their jobs.
- 20% don’t go to work due to hay fever.
- 19% call in sick because of hay fever but one in three people lie about it because they don’t feel that it’s a valid reason to miss work.
It is interesting to note that more and more chronic seasonal allergic rhinitis sufferers are finding solace in THRESHHold Real MSM. “I haven’t had to take time off from work for about four years thanks to MSM,” says Stephen about the allergy relief he has found in this natural anti-inflammatory.
What are the signs and symptoms of hay fever?
Symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis are similar to the common cold. It is important to catch it early and more importantly, to distinguish between the two. The common cold is caused by any number of viruses. Hay fever is caused by something entirely different called an allergen.
Here is a general rule of thumb on what you need to look for:
|Hay fever symptoms||Common cold symptoms|
What are the risks and complications of hay fever?
The constant irritation associated with wiping of the eyes, blowing of the nose, sneezing, and coughing will eventually take their toll on the body.
It might lead to something called immune exhaustion. Secondary complications might arise as the immune system gets run down and the mucosal membranes become inflamed and aggravated making them easy targets for pathogens such as bacteria and viruses to enter.
If not dealt with in a timely manner, it might also trigger asthma attacks or lead to sinusitis, middle-ear infection, tinnitus, post-nasal drip, eczema or other skin disorders for example. Many chronic hay fever sufferers also present with respiratory tract infections. This is a secondary infection.
Did you know that hay fever is one of the leading causes of sinusitis?
- Although rhinitis and sinusitis sound similar, they are different conditions because they are caused by different things and are therefore treated differently.
- Your sinuses are the hollow areas that are located in your skull between your eyes, and just behind your cheekbones in your forehead.
- They are lined with membranes and become inflamed when they are aggravated by pollen or pathogens like bacteria or viruses.
- The medically correct term for sinusitis is rhinosinusitis. It causes facial pain because mucus build-ups in this area causing pressure. If the mucus is thick and yellow, the chances are that there is a bacterial infection.
- When you have allergic rhinitis or hay fever, you stand the risk of getting sinusitis.
- Cases of sinusitis spike around hay fever season. Sinusitis is a secondary complication.
“A.Vogel Sinuforce is definitely a product on my budget list every month – it works for me staying in Groblersdal with all the citrus pollen – order yours today for a sinus free nose!!” writes Hercules.
We are glad to hear that it is working for you all the way up there in Limpopo!
Natural hay fever prevention and treatment recommendations
At Living Naturally, we believe that prevention is always better than cure. Good health is holistic health. Allergies are often a sign that lifestyle and diet might need to be addressed.
- Identify the trigger or the allergen
Try to figure out what is causing your allergic reaction and how often you get it. You can often pinpoint what the allergen is around the time of the exposure. Trees and flowers happen in early spring. Grasses tend to happen in late summer. Dust mites and mould spores are all year round. Allergic reactions happen on exposure. This will allow you to deal with them more effectively and treat them appropriately.
- Practice good natural hygiene
Keep your home clean, neat and tidy. Wash your bedding regularly. Vacuum and dust. Use hypoallergenic bedding. Wash pillows and not just your pillowcases for example. Air the duvets and mattresses regularly and expose them to sunlight. Keep surfaces dust free and try to avoid too many fluffy toys, carpets and things of that nature in the sleeping area – pollen clings easily to these things.
- Watch what you eat and drink
A diet rich in wholefoods, fresh fruit and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds as well as good quality water is worth considering. Try limiting refined carbohydrates, cakes and sweets, fried fatty foods, and fizzy drinks. This is to help the health of the gut and what is known as the microbiome. It also regulates your pH levels.
- Live life in balance
We’ve found that combining this with regular gentle exercise and a positive outlook, a healthy sleeping pattern, a robust stress management programme, and a gentler, more natural approach to health achieves better results in the long run.
|Here are our top recommendations to fight your hay fever the natural way:|
This homeopathic medicine is for the supportive treatment of excessive sneezing, runny nose, and streaming eyes, as well as associated itching of the eyes, nose, ears, or throat arising from exposure to pollen, dust, pollution, and other irritants. It is suggested for the acute treatment of allergies or preventatively as a form of desensitisation a few weeks prior to allergy season. It is also available in tablet form.
A homeopathic remedy for typical hay fever symptoms i.e., sneezing, itchy eyes, nose and palate, streaming, watery discharges from eyes and nose. This remedy will not cause drowsiness.
|How to deal with a blocked hay fever nose naturally:|
We recommend keeping a bottle of Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil in the medicine cupboard.
It can be used to help treat and prevent nasal congestion.
Simply add two to three drops in a bowl with 500ml of steaming water and inhale the steam. Alternatively, add two to three drops to your humidifier.
It will also help to soothe your throat.
This homeopathic medicine is used for the supportive treatment of nasal congestion and mucus. The ingredients address symptoms associated with congestion of the nasal passages such as headache, postnasal drip, runny nose, and mucus build-up. It is also available in tablet form.
If you think you might be suffering with more than seasonal allergic rhinitis, the Living Naturally team has done our very best to take the guesswork out of what, where and when of allergies with this dedicated health category and how to overcome them. Click here to find more.
Alternatively, consider making an appointment with a registered homeopath and enquire about homeopathic desensitization. Once the allergen has been identified, the homeopath helps you acquire a natural resilience and resistance to the allergen holistically forever, using the healing power of nature.
Here’s to stopping and smelling the flowers this spring and every day.
Living Naturally has a dedicated helpline to see you through every season of your life. Feel free to get in touch on Tel: +27(0)31-783-8000 between 09:00 – 16:00, Mondays to Fridays.
- Hay fever (2022) Mayo Clinic. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/symptoms-causes/syc-20373039
- Hay fever / rhinitis (no date) American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Available at: https://www.aaaai.org/Conditions-Treatments/Allergies/Hay-Fever-Rhinitis
- NHS choices. (No date) Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hay-fever/
- Allergic rhinitis. (No date) Illnesses & conditions | NHS inform. Available at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/ears-nose-and-throat/allergic-rhinitis
- Hay fever (allergic rhinitis): Symptoms, causes, and treatment (no date) Medical News Today. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/160665
- Hay fever (allergic rhinitis): Causes of seasonal allergies (no date) WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/allergies/understanding-hay-fever-basics
- Allergic rhinitis (2023) Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allergic_rhinitis
- Wheatley, L.M. and Togias, A. (2015) Clinical practice. allergic rhinitis, The New England journal of medicine. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4324099/
- Antihistamines (no date) Antihistamines – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/antihistamines
- Increasing rates of allergies and asthma (no date) American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Available at: https://www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/conditions-library/allergies/prevalence-of-allergies-and-asthma
- Chemist4U (2019) Hay fever statistics UK, Guides. Available at: https://www.chemist-4-u.com/guides/advice/hayfever/hay-fever-statistics-uk