You’ve probably noticed there’s been a steady uptick in your seasonal respiratory allergies over the years. Scientists and doctors have attributed some of this increase in allergies to climate change (2) which has been slowly lengthening the pollen season. There is no cure for the majority of allergies but there are many products on the market to support your body’s immune system in response to allergens, whether your respiratory allergies are compounded by pollen or other factors. Here is everything you need to know about respiratory allergies.
What is an Allergy?
An allergy is when your body is hypersensitive to a foreign substance, your immune system creates antibodies which identify that allergen as harmful even when it isn’t (1). This causes an exaggerated response to the allergen and your body fights it in the most inconvenient ways. While the severity of these allergies varies, some people experience relatively mild symptoms while others have extreme and potentially lethal reactions.
Allergy symptoms with most commonly affect:
- Respiratory system
- Digestive system
- Cardiovascular system
So many people are affected by respiratory allergies, for some the symptoms are mild but others the symptoms can be debilitating. Respiratory allergies are typically caused by proteins in the air (2) which are inhaled, in turn triggering inflammation.
Respiratory allergy symptoms (8):
- Postnasal drip
- Congestion with a stuffy or runny nose
- Worsening of asthma
- Watery eyes
- Itchy nose, eyes and throat
- Tight chest
- Shortness of breath
What Causes Respiratory Allergies?
People experience a very broad range of allergies, making it more difficult to isolate the culprit, but respiratory allergens are predominantly airborne (3). You can start tackling your allergies by taking note of whether your allergies are seasonal or they occur all year round. Try to isolate the instances, activities and places which are more likely to bring them on and you may notice a pattern.
Common respiratory allergens (2):
- House dust which contains dust mites
- Pet dander which contains proteins from animal fur, skin, urine and saliva
- Mould spores which increase in more humid conditions
- Pollen which comes from grass, trees and weeds
- Smoke and fire
Types of Respiratory Allergies
Respiratory allergies present predominantly in the form of asthma and rhinitis. Asthma is the result of swelling in the bronchial walls which causes shortness of breath and inflammation. Rhinitis, commonly known as hayfever is caused by irritation to the sensory nerves (3).
What is Cross-Reactivity?
One thing which few medical resources mention is the occurrence of cross-reactivity, also known as cross-allergies. This occurs because some of the proteins in pollen are similar to those in plant foods (2). You may find that you have an allergic reaction to nuts, fruit and vegetables if you are allergic to pollen (5).
Is it a Cold or is it Allergies?
There is a big overlap in cold and respiratory allergy symptoms making them a little trickier to diagnose. With allergies, you are more likely to experience itchy eyes or ears, or dark circles under the eyes. Colds are more likely to bring on body aches or a sore throat (4).
Managing Respiratory Allergies
The treatment of allergies is important, even in instances where they aren’t severe as they may spur upper respiratory infections and sinus infections (4). There are various ways to deal with these allergies and going to the source, supporting the immune system is a great way to go. It’s important to remember that the best way to do this is by taking the right medications or supplements regularly and early, before symptoms and inflammation begin (1).
To get a head start on allergy season or to manage any year-round symptoms, Sfera Bio Nutrition recommends using supplements which support the immune system in the right way.
From Tulsi and Coleus Forskohlli to Biotic Multi-Strain Complex, there are natural options for those who prefer not to use pharmaceutical medications which sometimes have unwanted side effects such as drowsiness (6).
Here are three of Sfera’s top respiratory allergy supplements:
Tulsi (Holy Basil)
An ayurvedic supplement, Tulsi extract supports the body in cleansing the respiratory tract of toxins, as well as the digestive system.
This product is vegetarian and best taken in two capsules twice a day as a food supplement.
Coleus Forskohlli is the active compound in the Coleus plant which supports the immune system through its antihistamine properties. These properties support the stabilisation of the mast cells in the lining of the lungs, preventing the over-production of histamine. In addition, it supports the body’s regulation of blood pressure and insulin secretion (7).
A member of the mint family, the Coleus plant has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for over 3000 years. It is best to take one to three capsules daily with water before a meal as a food supplement.
Biotic Multi-Strain Complex
Formulated to support the maintenance of a healthy range of intestinal flora, Biotic Complex contains essential microflora for the gut. A healthy gut helps your metabolism and immune system function properly.
Biotic Complex contains freeze-dried bacteria which is beneficial to the gut. In order to extend the shelf life of the product, it is compressed in oil to ensure it remains stable at room temperature. Because of this, it doesn’t have to be refrigerated.
Best taken after meals, Biotic Complex should be dropped onto a spoon or into the mouth, followed by a sip of water.
In the event that your respiratory allergies are severe, it may be necessary to contact a doctor for more advice. In extreme cases, asthma can be life-threatening and more aggressive treatments could be required in order to best manage this condition.
Sfera Bio Nutrition is renowned for its wide variety of good quality vitamins, minerals and supplements. They are sourced responsibly from all over the world from accredited suppliers and prepared in South Africa. Our products support optimum health and balance in the body. For more information or advice, get in touch with us.
- Jellin JM, Gregory PJ, et al. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. 9th ed. Stockton CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty; pg 543-545