Ensuring good health in spring and summer
Summer is a wonderful time but we are still prone to illness, especially allergies. How can we prevent our suffering?
If you suffer from hayfever, what can you do to alleviate your symptoms?
Summer pollen can place a strain on our body, especially in combination with natural hypovitaminosis. Pollen irritates the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose, and gets into our respiratory tract.
Summer allergies tend to create breathing problems: allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose), bronchitis or bronchial asthma, conjunctivitis, keratitis, and blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids, and irritation of the eyes). The first signs of allergy are shortness of breath, a cough without cause, breathlessness (difficulty in exhaling), sneezing, stuffy nose, and heavy cold. You may experience swollen eyes, and they may become red, gritty, itchy and watery. If this degenerates into Quincke’s Edema, you need to seek immediate medical help.
Unfortunately, no pollen allergy can be cured completely. However, doctors can offer suggestions, and tend to recommend discovering the actual cause of your irritation. Skin and blood tests can be useful in revealing allergens. Most spring and summer allergies are pollen-related, which are difficult to avoid, since the wind transfers pollen hundreds of kilometres.
Summer allergies are often rooted in tree pollen: that from the ash-tree, alder, beech, aspen, elder, cedar, poplar, elm, cypress, juniper, maple, mulberry, oak, pine and willow. Some bushes and herbs are also to blame. Symptoms of irritation are aggravated on windy days, when volumes of air-borne pollen rise considerably. On rainy days, pollen tends to stay at ground level, making it easier to breathe.
What should we do if we live in an environment with a lot of pollen?
First of all, consult a doctor, as they may be able to prescribe medicine to alleviate discomfort. Don’t ‘self-medicate’ by taking someone else’s drugs; each prescription is individual. Anti-histamines are commonly prescribed, as they reduce the level of histamine in the blood, reducing inflammation. If your symptoms are more cold-like or resemble conjunctivitis, drops or sprays work well in alleviating discomfort.
What can we do if we’re unresponsive to medication?
If you simultaneously suffer from other ailments it can present a problem. In such cases, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids, even by injection. Desensitising therapies can help, whereby small doses of the allergen are injected, gradually increasing in concentration, to allow the body to build immunity to the irritant.
Natural remedies include herb infusions and broths, but these can be allergens too. Washing the nose with a syringe of saline solution (available from pharmacies) or saline-soda (1 teaspoon of sea salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda per litre of water) can work well. These wash out allergens accumulating in the mucous membrane, to ease breathing.
What other recommendations would you give?
Precautionary measures in the early stages are wise. Avoid going outdoors if you know yourself to be a sufferer. Pollen count is higher in the morning than in the evening, so bear that in mind. Use air purifiers and put up net curtains at windows (keeping them periodically damp). Don’t forget to clean air-conditioning filters, so that they work efficiently. Even household dust can aggravate an allergy, so avoid letting it gather. Wipe all surfaces, and keep ventilation holes clear. Vacuum cleaners that ‘wash’ rugs help remove pollen as well as dirt and dust.
If you suffer annually from spring-summer allergies, do consult a doctor in advance. Update your medicine chest, and keep good supplies of what’s needed. In addition, try to follow a reasonable diet, avoiding potential food allergens (such as products with preservatives, additives and taste modifiers).