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East Midlands Chamber News

Healthy Stuff Online advises on seasonal allergies and how to treat them

As hay fever season approaches, Chamber member Healthy Stuff Online is sharing information on seasonal allergies, when and why they flare up at specific times of the year and how they can be prevented.

Healthy Stuff Online’s team advises that pollen and mould are the two most common seasonal allergens. 

 

Pollen

Pollen is the most commonly known of the seasonal allergens and it is responsible for hay fever – however there are three different types of pollen to be aware of; tree, grass and weed, each of which is prevalent at different times of the year.

February to June is peak time for tree pollen, whilst grass pollen is usually found between May and July, and weed pollen between June and September.

During these times, you will expect to experience symptoms outdoors, however there are a number of ways to prevent the pollen from affecting you indoors, too, including: drying any washing inside, keeping windows and doors closed, taking a shower and changing clothes after having been outside, and brushing or bathing any dogs after a walk.

People who suffer from an allergy to any pollens should also be aware of Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS), which manifests as reactions to certain foods, in the form of tingling and itching in the mouth, throat and lips. The foods most likely to cause this include specific fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and spices, whose protein structure is similar to that of each pollen.

An example of this would be a person with a birch allergy experiencing symptoms after eating apples, plums, kiwis, carrots, celery, hazelnuts, almonds, sunflowers seeds, oregano, basil or dill, all of which have a similar structure to birch. Such a reaction only usually occurs after ingesting raw varieties of fruits and vegetables. A person may also experience reactions to certain items but not others.

 

Mould

A mould allergy can cause very similar symptoms to that of hay fever, including itchy eyes or throat, watering or red eyes, sneezing, and/or a blocked or runny nose. It can also trigger asthma, should the mould spores reach the lungs.

When the mould grows and spreads, it produces spores, which travel through the air and can cause reactions. These moulds can be found both outdoors, on fallen leaves, on rotting logs, in compost piles and on dead plants, and in damp spots indoors.

With mould, year-round reactions can occur, however others are seasonal, including Cladosporium, which is most prevalent between June and August, Alternaria, which can be found between July and September, and both Aspergillus and Penicillium between October and March.

To avoid reactions from mould, reduce damp in the home by improving airflow through rooms, using an extraction fan, cleaning windows to remove mildew, keeping bathroom tiles and utilities clean, not leaving damp clothing around, repairing leaks and investing in a dehumidifier. When working in the garden, consider wearing a mask, particularly when mowing the lawn, removing any leaves or digging around plants.

Any allergy symptoms can be further reduced by limiting the consumption of histamine-rich foods when symptoms are severe – these foods tend to be those which are fermented and aged, including alcohol, matured cheeses, smoked meats, ready meals and products containing yeast. Keeping hydrated can also minimise the symptoms of allergies.

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