Spring is a beautiful season, as the weather starts to warm up, flowers begin to bloom, and trees start to bud. However, for many people, springtime also means seasonal allergies. Allergies can be triggered by a variety of different allergens, including pollen and mould spores. In particular, temperature sharp changes during the spring can contribute to an increase in pollen and mould production, leading to worsened allergy symptoms.
What Are Seasonal Allergies?
Allergies are your body’s response to environmental elements, foods, and other substances perceived as threats. These are known as allergens.
When your immune system detects an allergen, you produce antibodies to get rid of it. This process releases the hormone histamine and other chemicals into your bloodstream, causing inflammation of tissues and irritating symptoms.
Seasonal allergies refer to respiratory allergies, also called allergic rhinitis or hay fever, that tend to occur during specific seasons (mainly through spring, summer, and fall). According to Asthma Canada, 1 in every 5 Canadians deals with seasonal allergies, so natural ways to fend off unpleasant symptoms can help 1 in 5 Canadians leave Benadryl at home!
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
- Post nasal drip
- Itchy, red, and watery eyes
- Scratchy nose, ears, and throat
- Sinus pressure
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Unstoppable Sneezing
Seasonal allergies can also spark asthma-related symptoms like shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and wheezing.
Causes of Seasonal Allergies
- Pollen – Tiny airborne grains from trees, grass, flowers, and weeds.
- Mould – Fungi spores that thrive in damp indoor and outdoor areas.
Pollen is a common allergen that can cause hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis. It is produced by trees, grasses, and weeds, and is released into the air during the spring and summer months. Tree pollen is typical in the spring, grass pollen in the summer, and Ragweed pollen generally spikes during late summer and fall. However, seasonal allergens may vary depending on your location and weather. Pollen counts tend to be highest on warm, dry, and windy days. Temperature sharp changes can affect pollen production because plants may respond to fluctuations in temperature by producing more pollen. Additionally, when temperatures fluctuate between warm and cold, it can cause plants to release pollen in bursts, which can make allergy symptoms worse for those who are sensitive to pollen.
Mould is another common allergen that can cause allergy symptoms in the spring. Mould spores are tiny, airborne particles that are produced by moulds that grow on damp surfaces, such as soil, leaves, and decaying plant matter. Mould spores are released into the air when the mould is disturbed, such as by wind, rain, or temperature changes. When the weather warms up in the spring, it can create a perfect environment for mould growth. This is because warmer temperatures and higher humidity levels can cause mould to grow more quickly.
- Animal dander
- Dust mites
- Pollutants and irritants (e.g., smoke, gases)
- Scents or fragrances
Most Canadians have reported being allergic to pollen or grass, followed by animals and dust mites, so it’s not just you!
What allergens are in Toronto right now?
When the temperature sharply changes, it can also create ideal conditions for mould growth. For example, when warm air meets cold air, it can create condensation on surfaces, which can lead to dampness and mould growth. Additionally, when temperatures fluctuate between warm and cold, it can cause moisture to build up in areas where mould is already present, which can cause the mould to release more spores into the air.
If you’re planning a weekend camping trip or an afternoon in the park, check Toronto’s Allergy Outlook.
Risk Factors of Seasonal Allergies
- Genetics and family history: If you have a genetic predisposition or a family history of allergic diseases like allergic rhinitis or asthma, you might be prone to seasonal allergies.
- Infections: A decrease in viral and bacterial infections may impact your immune system’s sensitivity and response to allergens.
- Pollution: Air pollution may increase pollen’s strength and compromise your defences. Smoke, for example, can worsen allergy symptoms like wheezing.
- Weather conditions:
- Temperature: Pollen levels rise during warm days and cool evenings. Mould is fueled by hot weather.
- Humidity: Mould grows faster in humid environments.
- Wind: Airborne allergens easily float and transport in windy conditions.
- Rain: Showers might wash pollen out, yet pollen levels may rise again once the rain is over.
- Hormone imbalance: Your body is comprised of specialized interconnected systems. What happens in one system affects the others and vice versa. Hormone imbalances occur when you have too much or too little of a hormone, resulting in severe disruptions.
Do Hormones Affect Allergies?
- Histamine is the hormone released when your body detects an allergen, causing inflammation and allergy symptoms.
- Estrogen boosts histamine production.
- Progesterone breaks down histamine or inhibits it.
Hormonal imbalances such as excess estrogen and progesterone deficiency might increase histamine levels, thus causing intense allergic reactions.
Do Allergies Affect Hormones?
- While estrogen raises histamine, histamine can also promote estrogen production, starting a tricky cycle.
- Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is an anti-inflammatory hormone produced in the adrenal glands. The more allergies you experience, the more cortisol is needed to relieve the inflammation. Suppose your adrenal glands cannot produce enough cortisol to keep up. In that case, you may experience adrenal fatigue and deplete your immune system, making it even more sensitive to allergies.
3 Natural Ways to Balance Hormones and Stop Seasonal Allergies
While antihistamines and other over-the-counter medications may be your go-to, they focus on plastering over allergy symptoms instead of addressing the source. As soon as you stop taking them, symptoms may come rushing back.
Understanding the hormone-allergy connection and balancing your hormones can help you prevent seasonal allergies before they become a problem.
1. Reduce Exposure to Environmental Toxins
Reduce your contact with environmental toxins or endocrine-disrupting chemicals that may mimic estrogen.
2. Opt For a High-Fiber and Low-Histamine Diet
Add more fibre to your diet with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables (especially veggies from the cabbage family) to reduce estrogen levels and support its metabolism.
- Aged cheese
- Citrus fruits
- Cured meats
- Dried fruits
- Fermented products (e.g., alcohol, vinegar, yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut)
- Packaged foods or food additives
For allergy symptoms and overall well-being, it’s best to keep your gut healthy.
3. Relieve Stress
Soaring stress prompts high levels of cortisol and low levels of progesterone, creating the risk of increasing histamine and allergy symptoms.
There is no silver bullet for stress. Opt for an activity or a combination of practices that fit your lifestyle and help you navigate challenges.
Seasonal Allergies and Hormone Balance Treatment in Toronto
If you’ve tried these three practices but still find that allergies disrupt your life, I can help.
Balancing your hormones and mitigating allergy symptoms may require a holistic approach, looking into your health history, environment, nutrition, lifestyle, and other components. With this approach, you may notice improvements in your health above and beyond the taming of allergy symptoms.
Yours in good health,
Dr. Elena Krasnov, N.D.
This content is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Even though we are doctors, we are not your doctors. Talk to your doctor first if you have serious concerns.
These easy summer recipes are packed with antihistamines. While they most likely won’t stop your allergy symptoms for good, they may ease the severity of those symptoms.