Why are my allergies acting up?

S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
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13 December 2018

How does stress affect allergies?

During a stressful situation, be it on-going money worries or your boss yelling in your face, a stress receptor known as CRF1 (corticotropin-releasing factor) can send signals to mast cells in the immune system. This activates them and causes the release of the chemical histamine. 

Histamine usually helps the body get rid of invading allergens such as pollen and dust mites and it can cause symptoms such as:

So, the stress may trigger allergy symptoms but equally, it could make existing symptoms worse too. 

Top tips for tackling stress

How you deal with stress will largely depend on what’s causing this feeling in the first.

If you are stressed about something at work then speaking to a manager or colleague about how you feel may help to relieve some tension. They may be able to take a little of your workload for example, or organise flexible working.

If stress is more of a long term issue for you then learning some calming breathing techniques may make the issue more manageable.

Also, for symptoms of mild stress and anxiety, a soothing herb like Valerian-Hops is ideal. This has traditionally been used to support the nervous system and in doing so it can help you cope a little better with the pressures that build up day-to-day. 

What impact does poor digestion have on allergies?

A whopping 70% of our immune cells are found in the gut and so it’s no surprise that poor digestion can compromise the immune system and, in turn, contribute to allergy symptoms. 

An imbalance of gut bacteria and/or low stomach acid (the two often go hand in hand) are in many cases thought to contribute to leaky gut. This affects the structure of the cells in the gut so that they no longer stand tightly together. As a result of this pathogens (viruses, bacteria etc.) can seep through more easily and over time the immune system may become overwhelmed. As it struggles to keep pathogens under control the immune system may eventually start to react to things that aren’t usually problematic such as animal dander  and pollen. Also, if you already suffer from allergies it has the potential to make symptoms worse. 

So, from this we can see there is a close link between allergies and digestion.   

Dealing with digestive problems

There are a number of steps you can take improve digestion which may go on to influence your allergy symptoms in a positive way.

A diet high in refined sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your gut so swapping the likes of white bread, pasta and rice which are all contain high levels of refined sugar for wholegrain bread and brown rice may help keep bad bacteria in check. 

As well as making small changes to the food you eat though, it may be beneficial to change your eating habits too. Eating slowly and chewing your food for example, breaks down food more effectively so that it is better digested later on. Also, water is key for digestion as it helps to keep the bowels moving however, drinking with your meals is not a great idea. This can dilute the digestive juices meaning issues with digestion are more likely to crop up. 

Does lack of sleep worsen allergies?

In our stressful, busy lives lack of sleep has become an increasingly common problem and unfortunately this may also contribute to an allergy flare up.

Research suggests that getting enough sleep helps our bodies create the cells in the immune system such as T cells and B cells which are necessary for fighting off pathogens and allergens.1  Also, if you fail to get enough sleep it could make you more vulnerable to infections like colds, flus and coughs, plus allergy symptoms can become more problematic too. 

People require different amounts of sleep depending on the unique make-up of their bodies. However, 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!

How to get a better night’s sleep

If you are struggling to get the sleep your body so desperately needs then there are a few simple changes you may need to make to your nightly routine.

First of all, an hour or so before you go to bed try turning off all technology including phones, computers and TVs. The blue light emitted from this kind of technology can stimulate the brain thus keeping you awake for longer. Instead of watching your favourite Netflix series you could have bath or read a book to help you relax.

Another handy tip is to avoid caffeine in the afternoon or evening as this can stay in the bloodstream for hours – needless to say this won’t help you sleep! Also, if you do find yourself tossing and turning, try getting up and moving to a dark room. Once you begin to feel sleepy move back to your bedroom where it should be a little easier to fall asleep.

Does pollution impact 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 become too much for it to deal with and so allergy symptoms can develop.

Pollution can weaken the immune system 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.

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 so, because it can’t be blown away by the wind, it lasts longer.

Tackling allergy symptoms

Allergy symptoms can be addressed with antihistamines which may be obtained from a doctor or pharmacist. As well as this though, there are a number of natural remedies that can help to ease symptoms too.  

  • Drink nettle tea – this is a natural antihistamine
  • Get some vitamin C – vitamin C is another natural antihistamine and is also excellent for the skin
  • Choose Quercetin – Quercetin has anti-inflammatory effects and can help to control the levels of histamine being produced by the body. It can be found in onions, garlic, peppers, broccoli, apples and more
  • Try omega-3 – this can be found in oily fish and some nuts and seeds. It is anti-inflammatory so could help to ease symptoms such as itchy skin
  • Drink some peppermint tea – this can act as a decongestant thus helping to ease symptoms like a blocked nose.

Will moving house affect my 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 for example, be new types of pollen about that you weren’t previously exposed to in your old neighbourhood. Also, it could be that the previous owner had pets and so their dander still lurks in your new home. Alternatively, perhaps a neighbours pet considers your garden their territory and so you are exposed to dander in this way.

The best remedies for allergy sufferers

In dealing with hayfever symptoms it is best to start with Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets as these work to address a whole range of symptoms. After taking a course of these, see how your symptoms react and if necessary you can then begin to add other products such as our Moisturising Eye Drops which will help to address more specific problems such as watery eyes. 

Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets are made from 7 tropical herbs which together address symptoms including sneezing, watery eyes and congestion. They are non-drowsy so will not affect your ability to go about your day-to-day life and can be taken in combination with medications such as antihistamines, as well as alongside our other herbal remedies. 

So, if your allergies are acting up for any of the reasons listed above then this product, as well as the additional tips I’ve listed throughout this blog, should help ease your symptoms. 



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

3 https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/pollen/  

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