9 unexpected things that affect allergies

S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
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30 January 2019

Can stress and anxiety cause allergies?

When a source of stress is detected, be it your mean boss at work or a giant grizzly bear in the deep, dark woods, the body releases various hormones and chemicals, including histamine, in an attempt to deal with the problem. Therefore, if you’re feeling stressed and suffer from an allergy, your body produces much more histamine than would normally be the case as the body also releases histamine in response to allergens. 

It’s no surprise therefore, that allergy symptoms including congestion, a runny nose, skin irritation and swelling  can all get worse when the body is under stress – there’s just too much histamine circulating around the body.

What can you do?

Although it may be challenging, it’s important to try and deal with the source of stress in order to keep your allergy symptoms under control. So, do you need to take some time off work? Are you doing too much? Would it help if you talked to those around you about what’s going on in your life? Aim to work out what’s causing you stress and then take steps to remove it from your life.

In order to get on top of mild stress and anxiety, you could turn to Stress Relief Daytime. This herbal remedy contains a mix of Valerian and Hops to help support the nervous system.

Can digestive problems cause allergies?

Digestive problems such as a leaky gut mean that particles of food can easily seep through the gut wall when they are not meant to. As a result of this the immune system can become overwhelmed, and it may begin to react to things like pollen and animal dander, which wouldn’t normally cause any problems. In this way digestive problems can also contribute to allergy symptoms. 

What can you do?

How you treat digestive issues will depend on what the underlying cause is. With its mix of freshly harvested Artichoke, Dandelion, Peppermint and dried Boldo, Digestisan can bring relief from the likes of bloating, flatulence and indigestion. However, making changes to how and when you eat can also make a big difference to the health of you digestive system and therefore your allergy symptoms too. I spoke to our Digestion Advisor Ali who had these top tips:

  • Sit down to eat and sit up straight – this gives the digestive system the space and time it needs to process food
  • Chew thoroughly – this activates the digestive enzymes meaning they will be ready to deal with the arrival of food
  • Don’t drink more than half a glass water or juice within 20 minutes of a meal – this will dilute digestive juices making them less effective. Drinking with meals also encourages us to wash down food rather than chewing it properly
  • Exercise - this can improve a sluggish bowel – walks, swims and cycles are ideal!
  • Eat at set meal times - anticipating food allows our digestive system to prepare for its arrival by producing digestive enzymes.

Can lack of sleep make allergies worse?

When it comes to looking after the immune system, did you know that sleep can have a huge impact? Research shows that getting enough sleep is vital for the health of the immune system.1 If you don’t get enough you can become more vulnerable to infections like colds, flu and the resulting coughs; plus, allergy symptoms can become more problematic. 

What can you do?

People require different amounts of sleep depending on the unique make-up of their bodies. As a general rule of thumb, we suggest that adults get at least 8 hours a night, teenagers require between 8 and 10, and children need at least 10, if not more! 

Exercising during the day can help you achieve a better night’s sleep, as can relaxing before bed time. This doesn’t mean you switch on the television or watch YouTube videos all evening though as technology is particularly bad for our sleeping habits! Instead of these activities you could take a bubble bath or do some reading in the evenings.  

Can you be allergic to cleaning products?

When the body comes into contact with an allergen like pollen or mould, the immune system releases histamine in an attempt to flush these things out. This increases blood flow to the areas affected by the allergen and so inflammation often becomes problematic around the eyes, on the skin and in the nasal passages. 

Normally the skin would act as a barrier to keep out harmful chemicals, but when inflamed it becomes less effective at this task. This means the skin becomes more sensitive and less able to keep out the harmful toxins in cleaning products. This explains why the particles in non-environmentally friendly cleaning products can aggravate the already troublesome symptoms of allergies.

What can you do?

  • Get the gear – wear long-sleeved clothing, put on some rubber gloves, invest in a mask and, if necessary, get some protective goggles on too!
  • Go natural – from washing up liquid to laundry detergent there are a variety of natural cleaning products available that are a little gentler on the skin and senses
  • Avoid air fresheners – unbeknown to many, the strong chemicals used to give air fresheners their distinctive smell are quite likely to exacerbate your allergy symptoms
  • Shower after cleaning – this will help to get rid of any unfriendly chemicals that may have landed on your clothes and skin whilst you were cleaning. 

Can you be allergic to perfume?

If the ingredients and scents of standard cleaning products are likely to bring on and exacerbate allergy symptoms, it really comes as no surprise that perfumes, deodorants and aftershaves may do the same. Antiperspirants use aluminium-based compounds to block sweat glands, and these chemicals can easily irritate your skin, nose and eyes. 

What can you do?

I won’t suggest you give up these products altogether, but once again there a number of natural products you could use instead! Enjoy exploring the alternatives in health stores such as Salt of the Earth's 100% natural deodorant spray. This provides long-lasting odour protection, leaves no white marks and is free from parapbens and alcohol.

Is it possible to be allergic to make-up?

As the skin becomes more sensitive during an allergy flare up, cleaning products and perfume aren’t the only things that can cause problems. As the skin is less effective at keeping out troublesome particles at this time, even your usual make-up brand or moisturiser can suddenly cause problems

What can you do?

  • Keep make-up brushes clean - old make-up brushes, or ones that haven’t been washed in a while, can increase the likelihood of irritation. Therefore, before making any applications, give your make-up bag a spring clean!
  • Keep an eye on expiry dates – using out-of-date make-up could irritate the skin further, so it may be necessary to get rid of any products that have been lurking in your make-up bag for a while
  • Choose natural products – nowadays the natural beauty market is flourishing, and from moisturising creams to foundations there are a variety of products to choose from. A product aimed at sensitive skin, containing no strong perfumes, is best
  • Remove carefully – rubbing your skin with make-up wipes will only increase redness and inflammation so this is best avoided. A natural cleanser followed by a gentle face mask offers a much kinder alternative for your skin.

Can you have an allergic reaction to paint?

Like cleaning and beauty products, the harsh chemicals used in paint can cause the product to emit a strong smell that may trigger an allergy flare up. Also, if your body has already reacted to something like dander, which puts it into a state of high alert, the introduction of paint is likely to make symptoms like a runny nose and watery eyes more severe.

On top of this, renovation work like wallpaper stripping has the potential to cause further upset as it releases dust and allergens into the air, which can then irritate the nose and throat.

What can you do?

To minimise exposure to these kind or irritants, try to take yourself out of the house whilst work is on-going or, alternatively, try wearing a mask at this time.   

Can moving cause allergies?

As I’ve discussed, pollution can have a big part to play in allergies, so moving to an area where levels are higher, including in towns and cities, could trigger symptoms. 

Moving to a new town or city may also expose you to new allergens that weren’t present in your old area. There may be new types of pollen about that you weren’t previously exposed to. It could be that the previous owner had pets and so their dander still lurks in your new home. Alternatively, perhaps a neighbour’s pet considers your garden their territory and so you are exposed to dander in this way. 

What can you do?

  • Make sure the house has had a good clean – this will get rid of any allergens like animal dander that have been left by the previous inhabitants
  • Try a herbal remedy – depending on your symptoms we have a range of remedies to offer. Our Moisturising Eye Drops for example, help to relieve itchy, red eyes. For problems such as a skin rash however, then our Neem Cream could bring some relief

Can pollution cause allergies?

Pollution is a growing issue in towns and cities all over the world but is it possible for these harmful chemicals to trigger the development of an allergy?

Well, the answer is most definitely yes. Your body can cope with allergens up to a point but with pollution thrown in as well, it can eventually become too much to bear, and allergy symptoms may begin to develop.

Pollution can weaken the immune system for example, so even if pollen counts are low, or if you’ve never had a reaction to the likes of dust mites and mould spores before, you may now become sensitive to these things.2

Also, when pollution mixes with pollen it creates a strong mix that the body may be unable to cope with. It’s been said that pollution can make ‘super pollen’ for example, whereby pollen becomes thicker and stickier so clings more easily to the nose, throat and skin. Also, this super pollen is heavier than normal, therefore can’t be blown away by the wind and lasts longer.

What can you do?

Our Pollinosan Tablets can bring relief from symptoms of hayfever and allergic rhinitis such as watery eyes, sneezing and a blocked nose. The tablets can be used alongside antihistamines and have no unwanted side effects such as drowsiness.

"Always effective I use this every summer. No side effects.”"


Read what other people are saying about Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets.


1 Journal of Immunology, 'Effects of sleep and circadian rhythm on human circulating immune cells', May 1997 

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8637740  


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