9 surprising situations that affect allergies

Although allergy symptoms develop when one is exposed to the likes of pollen, animal dander, dust mites or mould spores, the problem can also be made worse by a number of other, more surprising things.


Sonia Chartier

25 August 2019

1- Can stress and anxiety cause allergies?

When a source of stress is detected, be it your mean boss at work or a giant grizzly bear in the deep, dark woods, the body releases various hormones and chemicals, including histamine, in an attempt to deal with the problem. So, if you're feeling stressed and suffer from an allergy, your body produces much more histamine than would normally be the case, as the body also releases histamine in response to allergens.
It's therefore not surprising that allergy symptoms including congestion, a runny nose, skin irritation and swelling can all get worse when the body is under stress—there's just too much histamine circulating around the body.

What can you do?

Although it may be challenging, it's important to try and deal with the source of your stress to minimize your allergy symptoms. Do you need some time off work? Are you overworked? Would it help to talk to people around you about what's going on in your life? Try to work out what's causing you stress and then take steps to eliminate it from your life.
To limit mild stress and anxiety, you could turn to Passion Flower to help support the nervous system.

2- Can digestive problems cause allergies?

Digestive problems, such as a leaky gut, mean that particles of food can easily seep through the intestinal wall when they aren't meant to. As a result, the immune system can become overwhelmed and may begin to react to things like pollen and animal dander, which wouldn't normally cause problems. This is how digestive problems can also contribute to allergy symptoms.

What can you do?

How you treat digestive issues will depend on the underlying cause. With its mix of freshly harvested artichoke, dandelion, milk thistle and boldo, Digestive Aid – Boldocynara can bring relief from the likes of bloating, flatulence and indigestion. However, making changes to how and when you eat can also make a big difference to the health of your digestive system and, in turn, your allergy symptoms. You can also try these top tips:

  • Sit down to eat and sit up straight: This gives the digestive system the space and time it needs to process food.
  • Chew thoroughly: This activates the digestive enzymes so they'll be ready to deal with the incoming food.
  • Don't drink more than half a glass water or juice within 20 minutes of a meal, as doing so dilutes digestive juices, making them less effective. Drinking with meals also encourages us to wash down food rather than chewing it properly.
  • Exercise! Doing so can improve a sluggish bowel—walking, swimming and going on bike rides are ideal!
  • Eat at set mealtimes: Anticipating food allows our digestive system to prepare for its arrival by producing digestive enzymes.

3- Can lack of sleep make allergies worse?

When it comes to looking after the immune system, sleep can have a huge impact. Research shows that sufficient sleep is vital for immune system health.1 If you don't get enough, you can become more vulnerable to infections like colds, flu and the resulting coughs; plus, allergy symptoms can become more problematic.

What can you do?

People need different amounts of sleep depending on the unique makeup of their bodies. As a general rule, adults should get at least eight hours a night, teenagers between 8 and 10 hours, and children at least 10 hours if not more!
Exercising during the day can help you sleep better at night, as can relaxing before bed. This doesn't mean switching on the TV or watching YouTube videos all evening—technology has a particularly bad influence on our sleeping habits! Instead, take a bubble bath or do some reading in the evenings.

4- Can you be allergic to cleaning products?

When the body comes into contact with an allergen like pollen or mould, the immune system releases histamine in an attempt to flush these things out. This increases blood flow to the areas affected by the allergen and so inflammation often becomes problematic around the eyes, on the skin and in the nasal passages.
Normally, the skin acts as a barrier to keep out harmful chemicals, but when inflamed it becomes less effective at this task. This means the skin becomes more sensitive and less able to keep out the harmful toxins in cleaning products. This explains why the particles in eco-unfriendly cleaning products can aggravate the already troublesome allergy symptoms.

What can you do?

  • Get the gear: Wear long-sleeved clothing, don some rubber gloves, invest in a mask and, if necessary, get some protective goggles too!
  • Go natural: From dishwashing liquid to laundry detergent, there are a variety of natural cleaning products available that are a little gentler on the skin and s
  • Avoid air fresheners: Unbeknownst to many, the strong chemicals used to give air fresheners their distinctive smell are quite likely to exacerbate your allergy symptoms.
  • Shower after cleaning: This will help to get rid of any unfriendly chemicals that may have landed on your clothes and skin as you cleaned.

5- Can you be allergic to perfume?

If the ingredients and scents of standard cleaning products are likely to bring on and exacerbate allergy symptoms, it really comes as no surprise that perfumes, deodorants and aftershaves may do the same. Antiperspirants use aluminum-based compounds to block sweat glands, and these chemicals can easily irritate your skin, nose and eyes.

What can you do?

We won't suggest that you give up these products altogether, but there a number of natural products you could use instead! Enjoy exploring the alternatives in health stores such as natural deodorants that don't contain aluminium-based compounds, parabens or alcohol.

6- Is it possible to be allergic to makeup?

As the skin becomes more sensitive during an allergy flare-up, cleaning products and perfume aren't the only things that can cause problems. Given that the skin is less effective at keeping out troublesome particles at this time, even your usual makeup brand or moisturizer can suddenly cause problems.

What can you do?

  • Keep makeup brushes clean: Old makeup brushes, or ones that haven't been washed in a while, can increase the likelihood of irritation. Therefore, before making any applications, give your makeup bag a spring clean!
  • Keep an eye on expiry dates: Using expired makeup could irritate the skin further, so it may be necessary to get rid of products that have been lurking in your makeup bag for a while.
  • Choose natural products: Nowadays the natural beauty market is flourishing—from moisturizing creams to foundations, there are a variety of products to choose from. A product aimed at sensitive skin and containing no strong perfumes is best.
  • Remove carefully: Rubbing your skin with makeup wipes will only increase redness and inflammation, so avoid doing so if you can. A natural cleanser followed by a gentle face mask provides a much kinder alternative for your skin.

7- Can you have an allergic reaction to paint?

Like cleaning and beauty products, the harsh chemicals used in paint can cause the product to emit a strong smell that may trigger an allergy flare-up. Also, if your body has already reacted to something like dander, which puts your skin into a state of high alert, the introduction of paint is likely to make symptoms like a runny nose and watery eyes more severe.
On top of this, renovation work like wallpaper stripping has the potential to cause further upset as it releases dust and allergens into the air, which can then irritate the nose and throat.

What can you do?

To minimize exposure to these kinds of irritants, try to get out of the house while work is going on or, alternatively, try wearing a mask.

8- Can moving cause allergies?

As mentioned in a previous article, pollution can play a big role in allergies, so moving to an area where levels are higher, including towns and cities, could trigger symptoms.
Moving to a new town or city may also expose you to new allergens that weren't present in your old area. There may be new types of pollen floating around that you weren't previously exposed to. It could be that the previous owner had pets and so their dander still lurks in your new home. Alternatively, perhaps a neighbour's pet considers your garden its territory, again exposing you to dander.

What can you do?

  • Make sure the house has had a good cleaning: This will get rid of any allergens like animal dander left behind by the previous inhabitants.
  • Try a herbal remedy: Depending on your symptoms, we have a range of remedies to offer. For example, our Moisturising Eye Drops help to relieve itchy, red eyes. For problems such as a skin rash, our Echiancea Cream could bring some relief.

9- Can pollution cause allergies?

Pollution is a growing issue in towns and cities all over the world. But is it possible for these harmful chemicals to trigger the development of an allergy?
The answer is most definitely yes. Your body can cope with allergens up to a point, but with pollution thrown in as well, it can eventually become too much to bear, and allergy symptoms may begin to develop.
Pollution can weaken the immune system, so even if pollen counts are low, or if you've never had a reaction to dust mites or mould spores before, you may now become sensitive to these things.2
Also, when pollution mixes with pollen it creates a strong mix that the body may be unable to cope with. It's been said that pollution can make "super pollen" for example, whereby pollen becomes thicker and stickier and therefore clings more easily to the nose, throat and skin. Also, this super pollen is heavier than normal, so lasts longer and can't be blown away by the wind.3

What can you do?

Our Allergy Relief Tablets can bring relief from symptoms of hay fever and allergic rhinitis such as watery eyes, sneezing and a blocked nose. The tablets can be used alongside antihistamines and have no unwanted side effects such as drowsiness.


1 Journal of Immunology, "Effects of sleep and circadian rhythm on human circulating immune cells," May 1997
2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8637740
3 https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/pollen/

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