Spring is often thought of as the time for allergies, but really any change of season can trigger allergies and asthma. But what is it about moving into autumn that gets you itching and sneezing?
For many people a drop in the temperature is enough of a trigger, and when the humidity drops the air becomes drier and is more likely to irritate a sensitive respiratory system. You may be bringing winter clothes out of storage in moth balls and dust is being stirred up. All of these and more could trigger your allergies or asthma.
Sinus congestion, itchy eyes, sneezing, persistent cough, wheezing, headaches, and skin disorders such as eczema are all symptoms of allergies. These become more and more common, especially getting into the change of seasons. When your allergies occur often depends on what you’re allergic to: trees pollinate in spring, grasses in early summer and weeds in late summer. Mould spores in cooler climates persist outdoors only in summer, whereas in warmer climates it can persist all year. If your allergies last all year they are most likely caused by dust mites, mould or animal hair allergies.
The last four decades have seen an increase in the rates of hayfever in children, especially in urban areas. In prosperous societies, 20-40% of children suffer from hayfever. There is a greater risk of this in children who have have early exposure to solid foods or formula, have food allergies, exposure to tobacco smoke and heavy exposure to indoor allergens. In the US, allergies are among the most cited reasons for missed school days, accounting for more than 2 million school days lost anually.
For some people, the post-nasal drip and sinus pain can be debilitating, and interfere with their ability to think and concentrate. For others, they may just put up with it and pop a daily anti-histamine.
Anti-histamines can give you symptomatic relief, however it can be associated with drowsiness and lethargy. Unfortunately, they are also not getting to the underlying cause of allergies.
What you may not know is that allergies can be caused by underlying imbalances in your immune system. Our white blood cells which act like our ‘army’ need to act in a balanced way to be effective. If there is an imbalance in a certain type of immune cells auto-immunity can occur, of if the balance goes the other way it can lead to allergies.
To help balance your immune system, eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. It’s also important to manage stress levels, as chronic stress can upset the nervous system and aggravate allergies. Digestive health has a large role to play in allergies, and so it can help to do a detox before spring to ensure everything is working properly.
You may find benefit from avoiding certain foods which can aggravate allergies. For people who are allergic to ragweed, you should avoid eating the melon family (watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe), zucchinis and cucumbers. For people allergic to grass, you should avoid wheat products, tomatoes and carrots.
Eating plenty of garlic, onions, chilli, turmeric, radishes and fresh herbs and spices can help. Fenugreek tea is great for helping to clearing out mucous. Daily sinus washing with a neti pot is also something you can try.
Asthma is a disease that causes inflammation of the airways of the lungs and it can be caused by a range of factors such as genetics, the environment, infections, allergies, emotions, and even the foods that we eat. The commonest symptoms of asthma are wheezing, coughing, a shortness of breath, and an increase in the amount of mucus that is produced. However, if you suffer from asthma, or have a family member that does, there is no need to suffer. There are plenty of natural health remedies that you can use.
Allergens that can Trigger Asthma
There are many different allergens that can trigger an asthmatic attack. These include pet dander, chemicals, drugs, dust mites, pollutants, feathers, food additives, mildew, mould, and cigarette smoke. Even the foods that you can eat can trigger an asthma attack, with milk, eggs, nuts, and seafood being some of the most common triggers.
If you suspect that an allergen is triggering your asthma attack, whether it is dietary or found in the environment, you can choose to eliminate the allergen from the diet or your environment and see if symptoms clear up. To be able to correctly identify the allergen, it is important that you remove all potential irritants and re-introduce them one by one. This is the basis of an ‘elimination diet’ and this should be performed over a period of at least 21 days. If you believe that you may have a food intolerence but don’t feel comfortable doing an elimination diet, there are blood tests that can be performed.
Nutrition for Asthma
A balanced diet is comprised of a range of food groups, and can help your body fight allergies and the effects of debilitating conditions such as asthma. Try including the following foods or food groups in your diet:
- Plenty of water
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Wholegrain foods such as brown rice,,millet, quinoa, amaranth and other ancient grains
- Lean meats such as skinless chicken
- Legumes and pulses
- Oily and/or white fish
- Items to avoid or limit in your diet include alcohol, salt, saturated fats and refined sugars.
The importance of exercise should also not be underestimated; especially when one starts to age and metabolism slows. This makes it more difficult to burn off unwanted fat.
Herbal Medicine for Asthma
There are some fantastic herbs that can be used for managing asthma. A formula for asthma will usually include herbs that relax the bronchiols, reduce catarrh and mucous build up and encourage it’s expulsion, reduce inflammation on the airways and support the immune system to either get rid of chronic infections, or reduce allergic reactions.