and how to combat them
Springtime. Everything is in bloom, nature awakes and so do allergies for many people. During the past few decades, the prevalence of childhood asthma has rapidly increased and now affects up to 5%–10% of the world’s population. In this article we show you the most effective remedies against allergies, as usual packed by science. Ready? Let’g go.
What is an allergy?
Just very briefly, not to bore you. An allergy is an overreaction from the body’s immune system to a so called allergen. Allergens are little compounds (mainly proteins) like pollen from grasses, weeds or trees just to name the most important ones.
If the allergen comes in contact with the mucosa in our nose or otherwhere in the respiratory tract the body responds with an immune reaction. Many times this is an inflammation that causes the following symptoms:
- Itching of the nose & eyes
- Runny, stuffy nose
- Watery, red or swollen eyes (conjunctivitis)
This reaction can occur at any point or it may also be that it never gets you. You can have no allergy almost all of your life and suddenly the body decides that he has to fight those allergens, that are not really harming in general.
Why and how do I get it?
So why is this, that we suddenly become allergic to something we tolerated up to that moment without any problem.
FIrst of all, allergies can occur at any point in your life but most people start to get affected in childhood. Important to know that we are talking about environmental allergies and not food allergies, which tend to come up earlier in life.
The exact trigger is not known. What we know is, that there are several factors that lead to the development of an allergy. Those are:
- Genetic predisposition
- Low running immune system (children, pregnant women)
- Environmental factors like pollution
- Low exposure to allergens during pregnancy and in childhood:
- Sounds weird but we know that an exaggerated cleanness and sterility is not good for the immune system and increases the risk of allergies.
Once it hits me, what can I do?
There are different ways to treat allergies. Important to know is, that there is no 100% efficient treatment available by now, but there are a lot of things you can do to ease the symptoms.
The medical term for treating the cause of an illness, not the symptoms. This is the all time objective in medicine but unfortunately many times it is not possible, like in the case of allergies. Although there are very effective ways to try to treat the cause.
As we initially mentioned, the cause of spring allergies are environmental allergens, so the first and most effective way to treat the allergy would be to avoid the allergen, which can be quite difficult.
- Use filters:
- In your air condition system at home, in your car or in your vacuum cleaner.
- Avoid spending time outdoors when high allergen levels exist
- There are websites or apps that inform about allergen exposure
- Sign up for allergy alerts
- In general the highest exposure tends to be during:
- Morning hours (between 5 and 10:00 in the morning)
- Long periods without rain
- Keep the windows closed and avoid to clean them on your own
- Avoid to hang the laundry outside during high pollen counts
- Wash your hands and face (hair if possible as well) after being outdoors
- Try to eliminate as many allergens as possible
- Clean clothes with a wet cloth
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen, and in severe allergy cases, wear a facemask when pollen counts are extremely high
- Consider an allergy treatment:
When allergies affect the ability of completing your daily tasks, an allergy treatment may be a good option. This treatment consists of injecting a small dose of the allergen on a regular basis to get the immune system used to the allergen and avoid the reaction. A blood test must be done previously to identify the problem causing allergies.
Neither the test nor the treatment offer a 100% efficacy, but they are a possible way to ease the symptoms and to finally resolve the problem. So it is worth trying it.
The counterpart to the causal treatment is the symptomatic treatment. As the name says, this treatment consists of easing the symptoms but not the cause. So it will always be just a short relief. Some of the medications to treat the symptoms also come with possible side effects, which is why you should use them cautiously.
Symptomatic treatments are:
- Antihistamines: Histamine is an inflammatory mediator produced by our body during allergic reactions. Antihistamines can ease symptoms like congestions and itchiness. One of their most common side effects are tiredness and drowsiness. Therefore it is recommended to take them before going to bed.
- Nasal steroids: Steroids or corticosteroids are very potent anti inflammatory drugs. They can either reduce inflammation or in higher doses suppress the immune system. The disadvantage of steroids is that they come with a lot of side effects and some of them quite strong ones, so they should only be considered as a short term treatment and only in really severe cases.
- Decongestants: They can ease nasal congestion but when used long term also harm the mucosa.
As usual nature provides us with some potent remedies to fight allergy.
- Nasal saline irrigation: Rinsing your nose with saline-water solutions may lead to modest improvement of allergy symptoms.
- Butterbur extract: Butterbur is a shrub that grows in wet and dark places. There is some scientific background that butterbur extract from the roots or the leaves may help with allergic rhinitis and also with migraine.
- Honey: Even if there is not a lot of science that proves that honey may help with allergies, eating honey is generally safe and it is worth trying it.
- Acupuncture: A big evaluation from 2015 found evidence that acupuncture may be helpful in cases of allergic rhinitis.
- Probiotics: There is some evidence that suggests that probiotics may improve some symptoms, as well as quality of life, in people with allergic rhinitis. The good thing with probiotics is, that they have a lot of other benefits for the digestive system. Important is to buy from a trusted source.
Are there any foods than can help with allergy or on the contrary, that can worsen the symptoms? The answer is: yes and yes. Let’s see why.
Foods that help with allergies are anti inflammatory foods:
As we already know the reaction of our body during an allergic response is similar to an inflammation.
Anti inflammatory foods are:
-Foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids, like salmon or walnuts.
-Foods high in antioxidants like dark red fruits or veggies or even a tiny bit of red wine.
-It is also important to avoid processed foods as they are highly inflammatory.
On the other hand there are foods that can even trigger allergy. This is due to the so called cross reactions. Cross reaction means that those little allergens causing the allergic reaction, have a very similar structure like those from certain foods and thus lead to the same response in our body. The allergic response.
This means in practise that if you are allergic to a tree or grass it is possible that certain types of foods cause the same reaction when you eat them. People who are allergic to birch may get a reaction from eating an apple for example.
Other existing cross reactions are:
- Mugwort-mustard syndrome
If you don’t know which allergens you are allergic to, a very helpful tool apart from a blood or patch test, may be a diary. It can give great insight and help you avoid certain areas, times of the day or food that have shown to worsen your symptoms.
Spirulina and allergies
Spirulina has shown a beneficial effect in allergies (amongst MANY others).
The decrease in nasal congestion seen in one study was remarkably strong relative to placebo in a model of allergic rhinitis.
Another study suggests that spirulina is strongly effective in controlling allergies, with the symptoms of nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal congestion and itching being time-dependently reduced. According to self-reports, more than twice as many subjects in the spirulina group reported more than a 2-fold increase in satisfaction with treatment.
Get your Okami Bio Spirulina HERE to ease your allergy symptoms.