Hay Fever Hell - How to beat it
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic disorder characterised by an exaggerated immune response to airborne allergens. Signs and symptoms include a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, red, itchy, and watery eyes, swelling around the eyes, headaches and even flu-like symptoms. The fluid from the nose is usually clear. Symptom onset is often within minutes following exposure and they can affect sleep, the ability to work, and the ability to concentrate at school.1
Hay fever is typically triggered by environmental allergens such as pollen, pet hair, dust, or mould. The underlying mechanism involves IgE antibodies attaching to the allergen and causing the release of inflammatory chemicals such as histamine from mast cells.2
The two main categories of hay fever are: seasonal, which occurs only during the time of year in which certain plants pollinate, and perennial, which occurs all year round. Seasonal allergies are more prevalent in the spring and summer and likely triggered by tree, grass and weed pollens. Perennial hay fever, as the name implies, can be present year round. Likely triggers are dust, dust mite faeces, mould and fungus spores.
Treating the symptoms
While it is helpful to identify triggers and try to avoid them, this is not always possible. So, it is common to be prescribed antihistamines, nasal decongestants and steroid nasal sprays. These medications work by helping suppress the symptoms, but like all medications, have side effects. For example, long-term use of nasal steroids raises the risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma in later life.3, 4 A 2014 Cochrane review found that corticosteroid preventer medications for asthma have been shown to stunt development in children.5 And if that wasn't enough, a 2010 study found a link between regular use of antihistamines and weight gain.5
A 2016 study found a link between prolonged use of drugs, known as anticholinergics and increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.6 Anticholinergic drugs sold in New Zealand include antihistamines: Phenergan, Claratyne/Claritin, Loratadine, and Levrix and asthma and COPD reliever medications Atrovent and Spiriva. Furthermore, a 2010 study found a link between regular use of antihistamines and weight gain.7
Addressing the cause
What if the symptoms of hay fever could be relieved by simply changing the way you breathe? In other words, addressing the cause of your hay fever by learning to breathe the way we are supposed to.
For example, did you know that a small clinical study of the Buteyko Method at Limerick Hospital in Ireland showed a 70% reduction in rhinitis symptoms of patients with asthma? (Limerick Hospital Study)
And did you know that carbon dioxide deficit caused by over-breathing can trigger histamine release in nasal passages and the lungs contributing to allergic rhinitis and asthma? 8,9,10
Could the way you breathe be a missed link in the coincidence of asthma, hay fever, eczema and food intolerances in some people?
Is this the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle? Could the way you breathe provide a clue to how asthma, hay fever and eczema often present in the same individual? What if it were possible to get relief from the symptoms of eczema, hay fever and asthma by learning to breathe correctly?
For 30 years I took almost daily inhaled steroids for asthma, steroid nasal sprays for hay fever and steroid creams to treat my eczema. In 1984, I visited a renowned allergy specialist in Sydney. He ordered a skin prick test to test me for a broad range of known allergens. Within a few minutes the test area became a large inflamed coalesced welt. Skin prick tests may be more sophisticated today but it was impossible to see the wood from the trees in this instance. Nevertheless, on the basis of this test the specialist suggested a course of desensitising injections including all the tested allergens. He suggested the programme could take years. Right there and then I realised this wasn’t the solution. Even if desensitising was the solution for these allergens, and I suspected it wasn’t, clearly I needed to go deeper to discover why my body mounted such a strong response to so many natural agents.
Sixteen years later I found the solution: a Buteyko course I did in the UK in 2000. Not only did it help me control my asthma but also, for the first time in my life, no more debilitating hay fever. I’ll never forget standing in Hyde Park in London watching clouds of thick pollen streaming through the park, caught in the afternoon light. This was the spring of 2001 and I realised that my eyes weren’t streaming and my nose wasn’t running. What’s more I wasn’t reaching for my steroids, antihistamine and there wasn’t even a soggy tissue in my pocket. I have been symptom and medication free since doing that Buteyko course 14 years ago.
You can read my story here »
Our breathing clinics have already helped thousands of New Zealanders control the symptoms of hay fever without the need for antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, sinus rinses or endless tissues.
Book in for a breathing assessment at our clinic and find out how our programme can help control asthma, hay fever, allergies and many other breathing-related disorders the natural way. Phone us on 09 360 6291 to book a consultation or course, or for more information about our programmes.
Feedback from health professionals and our clients on how Buteyko has helped hay fever and allergies speaks for itself:
I highly recommend the Buteyko Course. It is very useful for asthma but also chronic hay fever and snoring and has a role to play in the management of anxiety.
Mimi Irwin MBCHB, FRNZCGP, Dip Obs, D
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I have seen people with chronic lung disease, hay fever, snoring, insomnia, anxiety and stress report significant benefits. I would recommend anyone with ongoing health issues, or those wanting to maintain good health, consider doing the Buteyko breathing training.
Dr Nicky Baillie MBChB, FRNZCGP, MNZAMH
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After 30 years of hay fever I walked through a grassy field and for the first time without sneezing, itchy runny nose. All this after doing a Buteyko course in August 2006.
For years I suffered from rhinitis and hay fever. In 2003 I developed asthma too. Since learning the Buteyko Method …. my symptoms have disappeared and I am feeling very much better. The horrible constant build-up of phlegm in my throat which caused me to clear my throat constantly and cough has stopped! As has a funny little constant cough I had for 4 or 5 years. My frequent sneezing attacks have become very rare. …..I highly recommend the Buteyko Breathing course.
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You can read more feedback here »