Spring is here, and while most people find that a cause for celebration, for so many it signifies that allergies are also near.
Between 20 to 30% of Canadians experience seasonal allergies, turning the end of winter into a potentially difficult time. So, let’s get more acquainted with everything there is to know about allergies to get some much-needed relief.
What causes allergies?
Allergies are caused when the immune system overreacts to a substance that most people find harmless. Those substances can be anything from peanuts to bee pollen, or even medication. By identifying these normally harmless substances as a threat, the immune system reacts to any exposure of them by creating antibodies to attack, leading to an inflammatory response.
The inflammatory response that we most commonly see is sneezing. A direct result of the immune system’s release of chemicals like histamine to expel—or sneeze out, the offending allergen. Researchers have mostly attributed the onset of allergies as hereditary.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies
Spring may signify the onset of seasonal allergies, but symptoms can begin or persist well into fall. A person suffering from seasonal allergies can have any—or a combination of—the following symptoms:
- Stuffy nose
- Itchy or watery eyes and nose
- Sore throat
- Facial swelling and redness
These symptoms can also result in headaches, difficulty falling asleep, trouble concentrating, and exhaustion, making for an even more frustrating experience.
What are the most common environmental allergens?
Let’s look at some of the main offenders when it comes to environmental factors—and during what season you can expect (or dread) them in.
- Spring: Tree allergies are highest in spring, with the peak months being April and May. The worst offenders for tree pollen are oak, ash, alder, birch, box-elder, cedar, elm, maple, mulberry, and walnut.
- Summer: Summertime takes the cake for grass pollen being at its strongest, with a sharp rise in June and July. The culprits include Bermuda, Johnson, Kentucky bluegrass, timothy, fescue, orchard, and sweet vernal.
- Mid-summer: In mid-July Canadians can expect certain types of moulds that cause allergic reactions to emerge—both outdoors and indoors. Outdoor mould can be found on rotting vegetation, logs, grasses, and in soil or compost.
- Late summer/early fall: Even as the weather begins to cool, allergy sufferers may still not find reprieve. August to October is considered ragweed season (found in unhealthy or disturbed soil), another major cause of allergy symptoms.
Check out this slideshow that helps identify some of these outdoor culprits!
Natural ways to beat allergy symptoms
Seasonal allergies can certainly create a newfound appreciation for winter! The sheer persistence of outdoor allergens makes the search for natural remedies all the more important. Let’s go over some of them.
Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods into your diet. In addition to reducing the consumption of processed or refined foods, try to eat more whole foods, notably fruits, vegetables, and nuts/seeds, and opt for fish more often as your choice of animal protein. The nutrients found in these foods include quercetin, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory effects.
While the longevity of allergy season may make the great outdoors seem like the enemy, plenty of plants and flower power can provide relief. A natural, non-drowsy, and great-tasting option like Seasonal Allergies for Kids incorporates the best of the plant kingdom to offer support, allowing kids to be kids again!
Steam inhalation has been shown to help reduce nasal congestion caused by allergies by improving airflow and obstruction. It’s also worthwhile to look into indoor air filtration—specifically high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, as they can trap common allergens like pollen, reducing their presence and providing some relief.
All of these tips can help you enjoy the great outdoors again—in all its forms!
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