10 Jun Seeking Relief from Allergy Season? – Look to your feet!
Welcome back to this month’s edition of “Ask Giovanna” featuring Wendy Reichental a fellow colleague and freelance writer.
WR: Giovanna, just when we can finally go outside and enjoy the splendour of nature, we have to contend with a nasty side effect – ALLERGIES! Did you know that in Québec, 1 in 5 people suffers from some form of seasonal allergies which is mainly caused by ragweed pollen? Whether it’s called hay fever, seasonal allergy or allergic rhinitis, the symptoms are not pleasant. Scientists say that this spring because of the warmer weather, which started sooner, there’s been a huge pollen explosion. The lack of rain has also not helped. The rain helps to wash out the pollen that’s in the air. In northern climates like Canada, allergy season largely depends on the weather. Although these pollen grains are beneficial for other plants, some are unfortunately ending up in a different place; like the mucus membranes inside your nose, mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines. How can you explain further what happens when you get hay fever and what are some of the common triggers?
GD: Well, first, this is another example of how we can’t fight Mother Nature. It’s a tough time for allergy sufferers right now made worse with the pandemic because no one wants to be out in public seen sneezing, wheezing or coughing! The truth is that climate changes may have contributed to extending the period during which plants and trees produce this pollen. Therefore, allergy season starts earlier, lasts longer, and will only continue to get worse.
Trees, grasses, and ragweed are the most common allergens associated with outdoor pollen-induced allergies across Canada.
As you mentioned there are many common triggers and they vary from one season to another. In early spring, trees start their pollinating process. In particular, birch trees are a common offender, along with oak, maple, cedar, willow and poplar. In the summer the real culprits of summer seasonal allergies are grasses. Pollens from grasses take over from the trees in June and July. There are many types of grasses, as well as certain weeds that continue to pollinate in the early autumn. Lower pollen counts for grasses usually mean the symptoms are not as severe as they would be with trees or ragweed.
WR: This leads me to my next question, why do some people suffer from allergies while others don’t, and what are the most common symptoms of seasonal allergies?
GD: The brief answer is Scientists don’t really know, genetics play a crucial part. They say having one parent with a pollen allergy makes it more likely someone else in the family will have it. Symptoms of seasonal allergies range from mild to severe, with the most common being: the stuffy or runny nose, repeated sneezing, watery and itchy eyes, eye redness, swelling of eyelids, ear congestion, itchy throat or sinus pressure. Some less common symptoms include headaches, shortness of breath, fatigue or weakness. There’s also the possibility of worsening asthma in a person who already suffers from it. It can make what should be a wonderful time downright difficult to tolerate.
WR: What are some ways we can minimize these symptoms and are there any natural remedies?
GD: Well, you know I will always choose a natural remedy if I have the option and regular reflexology sessions can help relieve some of the lesser severe symptoms, more on that a bit later. But let’s start with how we can ease some symptoms, the most effective strategy is to limit your exposure to the outdoors especially on the highest-pollen days, when it’s hot or dry or on windy days and change clothes and wash as soon as you get home. There are many claims for various herbs but I prefer to focus on self-care and allergy symptom relief with diet and exercise which can help your immune system operate at its highest level. There are also some reflex points on the feet that, when stimulated, can help you breathe a little easier.
WR: We saved the best for last. What are some easy reflexology techniques we could try on our feet?
GD: Absolutely, allergies are acute immune system responses to a particular environmental irritant. In a full reflexology session, we would normally work the entire foot, as we do not specifically treat for a particular problem or concentrate on one area. However, here are some self-techniques and key reflexes to pinpoint to help ease a few allergy symptoms.
Seasonal allergy is an immune response to an environmental allergen.
WR: Such great tips Giovanna! We could all practice these and with any luck breathe a sigh of relief. And if not, remember you are in good company. Pour yourself a nice cold drink and listen to some Paul Simon, Album: Hearts and Bones.
♫♪Allergies to dust and grain, maladies, remedies and still these allergies remain.