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What happens with your seasonal allergies

It’s spring. The weather is lovely and so you get up and go out for a morning run along the railway trail.

Later in the day your eyes are itching and you begin to feel congested. Days later you’re still suffering and your nasal passages feel sore and inflamed.

This scenario is common for many here. It’s an allergic reaction; it can trigger asthma or simply exist as an irritation for seasonal allergy or hay fever sufferers.

Allergies of the airways, or respiratory system are the most common type.

This may be due to the large number of immune cells located along the lining of the airways and to the many potential allergens inhaled every day.

Pollen from blooming plants is a big culprit in seasonal allergies.

Small pollen particles sweep into the air (and even more so when it is windy) and are breathed in and come to rest on the lining of the airway, maybe the nose or nasal sinuses.

In the case of people with seasonal allergies, hay fever and asthma, their airways are sensitive and cells there interpret the pollen lodgers as unwanted intruders.

These cells decide to launch an attack on the intruders and release chemicals including histamine that produce inflammation or activate other mechanisms for example, smooth muscle contraction in the lungs.

Medications that interrupt this process are used as treatment.

Antihistamines actually work by countering the histamine produced in the body in an attempt to stop the inflammatory response.

Nettle (our own stinging nettle included) is a natural antihistamine. According to naturopath Kuni Frith Black, drinking the tea, or the herb in capsule form, can benefit seasonal allergy sufferers.

This is not a solution however, for those who are allergic to nettle.

Asthma educator Liz Boden strongly recommends allergy sufferers take medications to avoid reactions.

This Easter she’s also warned that they should stay clear of Easter lilies no matter how tempting it might be to smell them.

She said allergy sufferers who sit close to such flower arrangements in church are likely to have two responses.

“They’ll have one in church and one six to eight hours later when the airways really start swelling up. And this can last for days,” she said.

“Once the airway lining becomes inflamed and swelling starts, it takes a long time to return to normal.”

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Published April 03, 2012 at 9:04 am (Updated April 03, 2012 at 9:04 am)

What happens with your seasonal allergies

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