Allergies Hayfever Alternative Treatment

Hay fever, which is also known as allergic rhinitis, is caused by your body’s overreaction to airborne particles. Roughly 40 million people in the U.S. are affected by hay fever.

Hay Fever Symptoms and Triggers

Symptoms of hay fever generally crop up immediately after exposure to an allergen. Symptoms include:

  • coughing
  • decreased sense of smell or taste
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • itchy nose, throat or roof of the mouth
  • nasal congestion
  • runny nose
  • sinus pressure
  • sleeplessness
  • sneezing
  • swollen, blue-tinged skin under the eyes
  • watery or itchy eyes.

Hay fever is often mistaken for the common cold. However, it differs in a few distinct ways. For example, despite the name, no actual fever accompanies an onset of hay fever. Also, hay fever develops immediately after exposure to allergens, instead of one to three days after exposure to a virus, like a cold. Finally, the duration of hay fever lasts as long as a person is exposed to the allergen. It won’t just run its course in a few days like a cold does.

Hay fever can be caused by seasonal allergens or year-round allergens. Common seasonal allergens include:

  • grass pollen (late spring and summer)
  • spores from fungi and molds (warm weather)
  • tree pollen (spring)
  • weed pollen (fall).

Common year-round allergens include:

  • cockroaches
  • dander from pets
  • dust mites
  • spores from fungi and molds.

Traditional Treatments for Hay Fever

Hay fever is traditionally treated with over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications. These typically include corticosteroids, which treat the inflammation that hay fever causes. Antihistamines and decongestants are also popular treatment options. Over-the counter nasal sprays or a homemade nasal irrigation solution (1/4 teaspoon salt mixed with two cups warm water) may also help relieve sinus congestion.

For serious, recurring hay fever, a physician my recommend allergy shots. These injections are given on a regular basis for three to five years and contain purified allergen extracts. Their purpose is to desensitize patients to specific allergens.

Hay Fever Natural Treatment

While plenty of traditional remedies exist for treating hay fever, many people prefer to tackle their allergies without medication. These people seek alternative and herbal remedies for hay fever. Unfortunately, there isn’t much evidence for how well these remedies work. Regardless, you may wish to try these remedies to see if they work for you before going on any medication for hay fever.

Hay fever alternative treatments involve herbal remedies or alternate therapies. Some common hay fever remedies include:

  • Butterbur. A popular hay fever natural treatment is extract of the shrub butterbur. It’s not clear exactly how butterbur works, but many say that it’s a natural allergy treatment. Early theories suggest that it works the same way as several allergy medications, by blocking the actions of histamine and leukotrienes. Some forms of butterbur contain potentially toxic components. If you try butterbur, be sure to pick a product that is labeled “PA-free,” meaning it’s had those toxic components removed. Side effects of butterbur may include indigestion, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. Butterbur should not be used by children, people with kidney or liver disease, or pregnant and nursing women.
  • Carotenoids. Carotenoids are a family of plant pigments. While they haven’t been shown to specifically treat hay fever, studies have shown that a diet sparse in carotenoids is correlated with inflamed airways. One to two servings of carotenoids a day may help prevent future bouts of hay fever. Carotenoids are found in dark green and orange vegetables, including apricots, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, kale, butternut squash and collard greens.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Like carotenoids, there’s no evidence to support that omega-3 fatty acids can effectively treat hay fever. However, these healthy fats have a number of benefits, and one of them is that people with a high content of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood are associated with having a decreased risk of hay fever. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish oil capsules, flaxseed oil, walnuts and fatty fish like salmon.
  • Quercetin. Quercetin is an antioxidant that’s thought to block the actions of histamines. It’s found naturally in many foods, including unpeeled apples, berries, red grapes, red onions, capers and black tea. It’s also available as a supplement in many health stores. Many people find that taking 200-400 milligrams of quercetin per day is an effective treatment for hay fever.

Some people claim that alternative treatments like acupuncture, hypnosis and probiotics help with hay fever. However, no solid evidence exists to support these claims.

Resources

Home Remedies (2004). Hay fever. Retrieved March 15, 2009, from the Home Remedies Web site: http://www.home-remedies-for-you.com/remedy/Hay-Fever.html.

Mayo Clinic. (2008). Hay fever. Retrieved March 15, 2009, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hay-fever/DS00174/DSECTION=alternative-medicine.