Those with seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis, the beginning of spring brings with it months of sneezing, nasal discharge, nasal congestion, itchy, watery eyes and general malaise. Sometimes this may also be accompanied with conjunctivitis. Not pleasant for an adult let alone for a child. Interestingly, many parents report a worsening in behaviour in ASD children on days of a high pollen count. Seasonal allergies occur as an immune response to pollens and sometimes fungal spores. As allergic rhinitis frequently co-occurs with asthma, bouts of sneezing can trigger asthma attacks.
What can we do to relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies?
In an ideal world, airborne allergen avoidance is the best way to prevent symptoms, however mostly impractical. Conventional therapies include the use of antihistamines and corticosteroids. There are many options available to treat allergic rhinitis in adults and children. If there is a family history of seasonal allergies, women planning to conceive, or who are pregnant can decrease the risk of their children developing seasonal allergies with specific supplements.
What is research showing to be effective for seasonal allergies?
- Vitamin C – lowers histamine levels, improves lung and immune function. Histamine can be lowered by 38% with vitamin C. Adequate supplementation has been shown to improve respiratory and asthma symptoms
- Flavonoids – like quercetin are well known to inhibit histamine release by mast cells
- Bromelain – an enzyme, helps to thin the nasal secretions and has anti-inflammatory properties
- Vitamin A – has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects. Children that are low in vitamin A have an increased risk of developing allergic symptoms. Asthma is also affected by low vitamin A status
- Herbs – there are many herbs that have been used traditionally for allergic rhinitis. Herbs with anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and anticatarrhal properties are very effective in reducing symptoms
Pregnancy and risk of developing allergic rhinitis
- Increasing dietary intake of vitamin D in pregnancy can reduce the baby’s risk of developing allergic rhinitis by 15% and asthma by 20%.
- Further research is also showing that vitamin D insufficiency increases allergy and asthma severity in children.
With the success of the “Slip, Slop, Slap” campaign, it is not surprising that many children and adults are low in vitamin D. Now that vitamin D testing is no longer subsidised and the test needs to be paid for by the patient, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is only expected to increase.
Up to 40% of allergic rhinitis individuals also have asthma and up to 80% of asthmatics experience rhinitis. Those that suffer from asthma and allergic rhinitis have more doctor’s visits, more hospitalisations and require more time off work.
If you or your child suffer from seasonal allergies, using a combination of appropriate supplements at adequate therapeutic dosages will reduce histamine release, calm airway inflammation, and break up mucus congestion. We can help you get through the allergy season with as few symptoms as possible.