What is HAY FEVER?
If you are currently feeling utterly miserable, sneezing and sniffing your way through the day, you are certainly not alone.
In the US alone there were 26 million people diagnosed with hay fever in 2016.
That's an awful lot of seasonal misery. I feel like I'm surrounded by friends, colleagues and even family members who suffer terribly through the summer months.
Have they all been dealt a bad hand that they have no control over? If so, why are the numbers increasing all the time?
Nature certainly seems to be causing the problem with its high spring/summer pollen count but could nature also offer the cure?
What is hay fever?
It's an allergic reaction to airborne particles, usually pollen. It's a seasonal thing and only a problem when pollen is being released into the air.
The most common hay fever triggers are tree pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen as well as fungi and mold spores.
Tree pollen: late March - mid May Grass pollen: mid May - July Weed pollen: late June - September Fungi and mold spores: more common in warm weather
What causes hay fever?
Basically, your immune system is over-reacting. It's acting like your hyper-sensitive friend who gets defensive at the drop of a hat.
It's decided that airborne pollen, fungi or spores are an enemy, and hits out in attack rather than just ignoring them as the harmless substances that they are.
This immune attack involves producing antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) and it's these antibodies that release the chemical histamine and it's histamine that causes all your distressing symptoms.
Pollen is entering your body through your nose, eyes and mouth so those are the areas that become the battle zone. Cells lining these areas have receptors that histamine is able to hook onto, just like a key in a lock and once hooked on, histamine triggers the familiar congestion, swelling, inflammation, increased mucus and streaming eyes.