Seasonal allergies: symptoms, causes and treatment

The allergy season is considered to be the time of year when the pollen count is increasing and people with allergies are more likely to start having symptoms; therefore, the allergy season occurs during spring and summer. People who have allergies normally react to pollen, which are tiny grains that contain the male gametes of seed plants. Many people suffer from seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Looking for ways to manage it? Here's what you need to know.

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction to pollen?

Pollen allergies are different for each individual. Some people have mild symptoms, others have more severe ones. The most common symptoms are sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and throat and coughing. Wheezing, nasal congestion, watery eyes and allergic asthma are also common (1). Another condition associated with pollen is pollen rash, which is a rash that appears red, swollen and itchy with clearly defined edges (2).

The type of grass pollen you are allergic to determines the severity of your allergy. Your location can also affect your allergic reaction symptoms since grass types can vary depending on where you are.

The majority of individuals with seasonal allergies are allergic to multiple types of grass.

Grass allergies are most common in these grasses (3)

  • Bermuda
  • Bahia
  • Fescue
  • Johnson
  • Kentucky Blue
  • Orchard
  • Rye
  • Sweet Vernal
  • Timothy

What are the best ways to support seasonal allergies with Nutrition?

Histamine - Histamine is a nitrogenous compound that plays a role in local immune responses. Allergies are triggered by histamine response. An allergen triggers mast cells to release histamine, which binds to receptors on other cells, triggering a chain of events that leads to symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Several herbal and plant-derived compounds like glucoraphanin and bromelain have shown to help ease seasonal allergies.

Bromelain is an enzyme complex extracted from the pineapple plant, particularly the stem and the fruit. Bromelain is known for its anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and fibrinolytic effects. It's often used in dietary supplements for its potential to aid digestion and reduce inflammation (4).

Glucoraphanin is a glucosinolate found in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale. It is a precursor to sulforaphane, a compound released when cruciferous vegetables are chopped or chewed. Sulforaphane is studied for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory (5).

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in small amounts in fruits and veggies. It's a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory as well as antiviral. Histamine levels and inflammation can be reduced while taking quercetin, which can help manage seasonal allergies(6). The benefits of quercetin for seasonal allergies include reducing histamine levels, stabilising mast cells, and inhibiting inflammatory mediators. Also, quercetin may help reduce symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes.Foods Containing Quercetin

  • Apples: Especially with the skin on, as quercetin is concentrated there.
  • Onions and Garlic: These contain not only quercetin but also natural antihistamine properties that can help reduce symptoms.
  • Capsicum: Bell peppers and chilli peppers are good sources of quercetin and vitamin C.

Tips to not forget!

There are always ways to manage them so you can minimise your symptoms. Try these tips to lower the chance of getting an allergic reaction (7):

  1. Check Pollen Counts: Keep an eye on local weather reports and pollen forecasts. Try to stay indoors on days when pollen counts are high, especially during midday and afternoon when pollen levels peak. Consider going to windy places (tip: go to the beach)
  2. Keep Windows Closed: To prevent pollen from entering your home, keep windows closed and use air conditioning in your car and home. Also, don't hang your laundry outside, the pollen will stick to it and could irritate your skin as you wear it or use it.
  3. Shower After Being Outdoors: Pollen can accumulate on your skin and hair. Showering and changing clothes after being outside can help reduce exposure.
  4. Use HEPA Filters: High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in your home’s ventilation system and vacuum cleaners can capture pollen, dust, and other allergens.