It is that time of year again when we are hit most with hay fever attacks. Hay fever is caused by flowers, grasses and trees that rely on wind for pollination and shed pollen in large amounts.
Up to 30% of people in European countries suffer from one type of hayfever or another, which means they get an allergic reaction to some type of pollen, with the most common one causing problems being birch and grass pollen. As most birch pollen is produced in April and grass pollen season starts in May, both April and May can be called 'hay fever' months.
Once pollen enters the eyes or nose, IgE antibodies and histamine are released, resulting in symptoms like swelling around the eyes and a runny nose.
Why some people suffer from hay fever and others don't, is still not fully understood. We 'do' know that growing up with animals lessens the chance of getting allergies as an adult. While the concentration of pollen in the air is much higher in rural areas, it is mostly city dwellers who suffer from hay fever because of the higher amount of air pollution, which causes air-way infections and reduces immunity.
It may very well be the same reduced immunity that causes a sudden increase of aging adults (45-65 years) who suffer from hay fever after a bout of illness.
There aren't all that many mainstream treatments available for hay fever, outside anti-histamines, but some other treatments are gaining interest, like immunotherapy and UV- or red light treatment . Another option is to boost your immunity levels in different ways.
The immune system is the body's primary means of defense against pathogens and invaders. When functioning optimally, it eliminates bacteria, viruses, parasites, and cancerous cells. But, when compromised it cannot defend the body against these pathogens and is unable to prevent the growth and spread of abnormal cells. Glucans derived from yeasts or mushrooms boost immunity. The reason for doing so is that these glucans resemble the sugar chains found in the membranes of pathogens like bacteria, which in its turn give the immune system a 'wake-up call' and activate natural killer cells and incrase production of interleukin.