By Abrielle Chan
Springtime is a favourite season for many. Despite being a great time to stop and smell the flowers, spring marks the start of the allergy season. In Vancouver, cherry blossoms and other spring flowers bring both beauty and pollen. This spells misery among allergy sufferers.
Science behind an allergic rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis or hay fever, causes one to have cold-like symptoms. These can include sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy or watery eyes. This is caused by an allergic response to an allergen like tree and grass pollen. When you are exposed, your immune system reacts by generating an antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies coat the surface of basophils (white blood cells) and mast cells in body tissues. The very first exposure to an allergen doesn’t cause a reaction. Instead, it may make some people more sensitive to the allergen. If the sensitive individual is exposed to the allergen again, then an allergic reaction plays out. The allergen triggers the antibody-coated basophils and mast cells to release inflammatory substances like histamine. These cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Why it matters
Hay fever may seem trivial to non-allergy sufferers, but it does affect normal functioning. It is known to be the 5th most common cause of lack of sleep. This can affect one’s performance in school or at work throughout the day.
What you can do
Here are some ways to improve hay fever symptoms:
Leave your shoes that may have collected pollen outside. Change your clothes after a trip outdoors.
Washing hair and showering will get rid of pollen that has accumulated in your hair during the day.
Laundering linen at least once a week can get rid of pollen and other allergens.
Over the counter medicines like antihistamines, eye drops and decongestants to control your symptoms.
Honey to improve symptoms of hay fever?
Before reaching for over the counter medicines, consider honey. There is evidence that honey can help to improve symptoms of hayfever. In a study by Munstedt and Kalder, it was found that honey treatment for hayfever showed significant improvements. Participants of the study reported they noticed differences with honey treatment. These included better sleep, less symptoms, less nasal and eye symptoms and better quality of life.
If you are a hay fever sufferer, try out honey! It may help to reduce your symptoms, and make snacks just a little bit sweeter. If that doesn’t work, a little spring cleaning should do the trick.