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Tis the season for tissues

Saturday, September 15, 2018
Great to see the spring rains arrive. All those plants thought the rain was pretty good too. That gentle watering from Mother Nature was their signal to get flowering. And you know what that means: pollen, and lots of it.

If you don’t suffer from hay fever then spring just seems like a pretty time of year, with flowers, bees and butterflies in abundance. But if you have an allergy to pollens, then spring is the season for tissues, and lots of them, as your respiratory system protests.

Sneezing is your body’s natural defence response when it breathes in something your immune system has decided is potentially dangerous. So the campaign begins: some violent sneezing should propel it out fast. If that doesn’t work, perhaps a wave of mucus will wash it out. 

You can blame your streaming nose on your body’s natural histamine response. When the dedicated patrol members of your immune system, immunoglobulins, detect an invader they rapidly flag other cells in your immune system to take action and release histamine. This is another alarm system that sets off even more body reactions. The cells lining your nose, mouth, even your eyelids are directed to produce and release watery mucus in what seems like gallon quantities.

If only you could move away, just until the pollen count dies down, then come home. But for most of us, this just isn’t practical.

There are ways to hose down this reaction naturally. Some people reach for homoeopathic remedies as hay fever first aid. Others find keeping a bottle of chewable vitamin C tablets close by helps. You see, vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine, helping calm that over-reaction to allergens like pollen. A word of caution though: this tip shouldn’t be tried for anaphylactic allergic reactions, and people with kidney problems should seek professional advice first. 

If you’d like to try this out, take a 500mg chewable vitamin C tablet next time your nose starts to tickle. You may notice your reaction diminishes in intensity. But if the pollens remain in the air you may have to take another tablet soon as encountering more of the pollen will trigger yet another sneezing session.

Some people find that eliminating foods renowned for triggering intolerances can help reduce the intensity of their hay fever; like dairy foods. You may need to try out one remedy or a combination of strategies to find what works for you. 

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Olwen Anderson @olwenanderson


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