The arrival of spring brings longer days, warmer weather and blossoming trees – a welcome change from the long dark days of winter for most people. But for the 10 million hay fever sufferers in the UK, spring means suffering! It can be the start of months of misery, including sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny noses, headaches, disturbed sleep and fatigue.

Are certain groups of people more susceptible to it? If so, why?

There are certain medical conditions that will increase your likelihood of suffering with hay fever and seasonal allergies. This includes atopic people (those with asthma and/or eczema); people who’ve been through recent illness or trauma, and even those who’ve been under an intense amount of stress; those with gut issues especially food allergies, and even pregnancy.

Can dietary choices make it worse? If so, what elements need to be cut?

The average western diet can make hay fever worse. The aim is to have an anti-inflammatory diet, meaning you should reduce or ideally eliminate sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, and mucus-producing foods such as dairy and bananas. Gluten may be an issue if there is autoimmunity present.

What other health issues can be associated with hay fever?

Approximately 80% of people with asthma also suffer with seasonal allergies which may result in hay fever. It’s important to treat hay fever symptoms, as this can reduce asthma-related hospitalisations and emergencies.

Managing hay fever and seasonal allergy symptoms is crucial for those who have a compromised immune system, and those with other respiratory conditions such as COPD (chronic obstruction pulmonary disorder). Left unchecked this may lead to further complications.

And are there any longer-term health concerns it can be linked to?

Hay fever indicates an aberration/imbalance of the immune system. The body is over-reacting in the wrong way to harmless substances - we’re not meant to have hay fever!

From a Functional Medicine and Naturopathic perspective, we would definitely look deeper into what is going on within all body systems. Ideally you want to solve the problem of hay fever altogether. This can take you on a deeper journey of healing, ideally working with a Nutritional Therapist or Naturopath to address balancing the immune system and body on a core level.

What are the most important nutrients hay fever sufferers need – both preventative, ahead of the season starting, and during to deal with symptoms?

Beta Glucans – these modulate the immune system, helping to bring it back into balance over time. Taken ideally a number of months before the hay fever season, the aim is to reduce the reactiveness of the immune system, reducing the intensity of hay fever symptoms.

Vitamins A, C, D, E and zinc - the foundational nutrients of the immune system, as well as supporting the integrity of the mucous membranes of the respiratory system, including the sinuses, throat and lungs.

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids, bromelain and quercetin – this blend is a long-time favourite of practitioners for the symptomatic relief of hay fever. This combination acts as a natural antihistamine and is anti-allergic whilst also supporting an overactive immune system and healthy inflammatory response.

Vitamin D3 – if the body is low in vitamin D this can negatively impact the immune system.

About Elouise Bauskis ND, BSc, DN, DBM
Elouise is an Australian-trained Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist and Herbalist with 15 years’ experience in private clinical practice and 20 years’ experience within the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Industry. She is a fully registered and insured Practitioner and a member of both the Association of Master Herbalists and the General Naturopathic Council. Elouise has a wealth of knowledge and experience, expanded and honed over many years. She is able to translate complicated information into easily understood and logical concepts for clients and is inspired to educate and empower them to make life-long, positive health changes.