The hidden costs of hayfever
When you suffer from hayfever, some of the symptoms are impossible to ignore, because as soon as the sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes hit, you know all about it!
Other consequences of hayfever are more subtle, so are easily overlooked or pushed through, leading many people to under-estimate the impact that hayfever has on them.
Hayfever interferes with your sleep, energy, brain power and more!
These so-called ‘hidden costs’ of hayfever can include disturbed sleep, daytime tiredness, impaired concentration and overall cognitive function, reduced productivity, and reduced performance at work and school – all of which have the potential to significantly interfere with your daily life.
For example, in a research study involving 3562 people, around half of those with persistent hayfever reported that it interfered with both their night-time sleep and their ability to wake up feeling rested in the morning.
Among the respondents with intermittent (rather than persistent) hayfever, around one in three reported similar issues.
Many participants in this study also reported that their hayfever had a moderate to severe impact on their outdoor activities, work, study, social lives, exercise routines, and even their choice of holiday destination!
Hayfever increases sinusitis risk
Another issue that many hayfever sufferers overlook is that the condition predisposes you to an increased risk of sinusitis.
This phenomenon occurs because the mucus that accumulates in hayfever sufferers’ sinus passages creates an environment in which bacteria are able to thrive, which in turn increases the likelihood that an infection will take hold.
Histamine triggers hayfever symptoms
The symptoms of hayfever are triggered by histamine, a compound that your body releases when it comes into contact with an allergen.
Histamine’s purpose is to help your body flush out or overcome the substance that it perceives as a threat, so once released, it quickly initiates inflammatory processes and dramatically increases the production of watery secretions from your nasal passages and eyes.
The effects are extremely rapid, so before you know it, you’re sneezing your head off and have a runny nose and itchy eyes!
Chinese herbs to help manage mild allergies
In traditional Chinese medicine, Baical Skullcap is traditionally used to help manage the symptoms of a wide range of allergies, including hayfever.
It’s often taken in a formula that also contains Bupleurum, Ginger, Korean Ginseng, Pinellia, Zizyphus and Licorice.
In vitro research suggests that this formula has antihistamine properties, which may help to explain its traditional use to relieve hayfever symptoms such as watery nasal discharges, sneezing, and itchiness of the eyes, nose and throat, as well as symptoms of other allergies including eczema, hives and mild food intolerances.
Antihistamine effects of vitamin C
Vitamin C has been shown to have antihistamine properties in in vitro research too (in addition to its other well-known roles in helping to maintain immune health), so may also be a beneficial supplement for allergy sufferers.
Elderflower relieves nasal congestion
In western herbal medicine, Elderflower has traditionally been used to help manage symptoms like mucous congestion, blocked and/or runny nose, cough and sore throat - regardless of whether they’re due to hayfever, sinusitis, colds or flu.
Herbal relief for sinusitis
If acute or chronic sinusitis is present, traditional Chinese herbs such as Xanthium, Magnolia Flower, White Angelica and Asian Wild Mint may again help to relieve congestion, inflammation, headaches, and sinus pressure and pain. This classic combination of herbs is often taken in conjunction with Houttuynia (Fishwort), which is traditionally regarded as having anti-infective properties.
Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet. Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare practitioner.
References available on request.