Spring is here, which means the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the world is warming up.
And, of course, allergy season is here!
In spring, trees and plants are flooding the air with pollen in order to replicate, and that pollen can cause a great deal of grief to people with allergies. Early spring to late fall can be a difficult time for people with seasonal allergies, a time when you’re constantly dealing with a runny nose, headaches, red and dry eyes, and all the other seasonal allergy symptoms.
But did you know that seasonal allergies could also be linked to psychiatric disorders? According to emerging research, there may be a connection!
Now, let’s be clear: there isn’t enough evidence to indicate a causation between the two. The research you’re about to hear about will indicate a positive correlation between seasonal allergies and psychiatric disorders, but direct causality hasn’t yet been established.
However, understanding that there is a potential link between the two can help you be aware and take the proper steps to protect your mental and emotional health during allergy season.
According to one 2018 study , which analyzed data collected over two years (2001-2003), researchers found that those who suffered from seasonal allergies were more likely to develop a number of conditions:
On the other hand, seasonal allergies were not positively correlated to higher risks of substance or alcohol use disorders.
Men tended to develop eating disorders as a result of seasonal allergies more than women.
Latino Americans were more prone to mood disorders, alcohol use disorders, and substance abuse disorders than the other demographics.
In another study from 2019 , it was discovered that allergies were linked to an increase in depression, but not anxiety. Interestingly enough, this was the result of not seasonal allergies, but perennial allergies (all year long) as a result of house dust, mold, spores, fungus, and animal dander.
Both studies indicated that further research was needed to provide a clearer link between the allergies and mental health problems. However, the 2018 study concluded, “Seasonal allergies are a risk factor for psychiatric disorders. Individuals complaining of seasonal allergies should be screened for early signs of mental health problems and referred to specialized services accordingly.”
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The good news is that seasonal allergies, though annoying, can be quite manageable. There are a lot of different methods for managing seasonal allergies at home without the need for medical intervention. Below, we’ve listed a few of the most effective options:
Probiotics – Research has suggested that probiotics (food containing live bacteria) can be effective in reducing seasonal allergies. One 2017 study  utilized three common gut bacteria--Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1, and B. longum MM-2—to treat seasonal allergies. These three types of bacteria were administered over the course of 8 weeks during allergy season. Fasting blood samples taken at the beginning and near the end of the study found that blood levels of immunoglobin E concentrations were lower than the placebo group, which means the bodies of those given probiotics responded less severely to the allergies. As the study concluded, “This combination probiotic improved rhinoconjunctivitis-specific quality of life during allergy season for healthy individuals with self-reported seasonal allergies.”
Nasal Irrigation – For those who are struggling with a runny nose and stuffed nasal passages as a result of some allergen, nasal irrigation using warm water, salt, and baking soda can be highly effective at eliminating mucus and opening up the pathways. Neti pots and squeeze bottles can make it easy to irritate your nasal passages. Results may vary, but this type of irrigation will typically provide at least temporary relief for those with stuffed or runny noses.
Ginger Tea – Ginger tea is an amazing herbal remedy that acts as a decongestant, meaning it will unblock your respiratory tract and clear away mucus. Drinking a mug of hot ginger tea can help to alleviate allergy symptoms and improve breathing. Inhaling the steam will double the effectiveness of the tea—the heat will open up your sinuses and make it easier to breathe. One animal study from 2016  even found that ginger can reduce the severity of allergy symptoms!
Quercetin – Quercetin is known to block the release of histamines, the inflammation-causing chemicals that are released when you are exposed to an allergen. In fact, research on quercetin has proven that it’s so effective that it’s typically used in anti-allergy medications and remedies . Quercetin is found in onions, apples, wine, grapes, berries, broccoli, and black tea. Eat more of these foods to reduce the severity of seasonal allergies.
Bee Pollen – Bee pollen is one of the most popular natural remedies to treat and prevent allergies due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. In one 2008 study , bee pollen prevented the activation of mastocytes (mast cells), which are part of your immune response to allergens. By inhibiting these mast cells, bee pollen essentially prevents the allergic reactions (symptoms) that can cause so much grief.
Seasonal allergies can be a pain, but they’re not something you have to suffer through forever! Using these remedies and finding natural methods of managing your allergies can help to improve your quality of life all throughout allergy season.
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