Air pollution, climate change, indoor pollutants and at this time of the year, pollen, can all place a burden on your respiratory system. When faced with a heavy load of irritants, sinuses go into overdrive to keep membranes flexible and moist. A build-up of phlegm can turn into catarrh, which changes the pressure inside your head, causing pain. Here we look at ways to lighten the allergen load and burden on your respiratory system.
Reduce air pollution
Reducing air pollution (and your exposure to air pollution) can result in prompt and significant health gains, not to mention huge benefits for the planet. By choosing a more environmentally friendly method of travel, opting for electric or good old-fashioned pedal power over petrol or diesel, you will help to reduce the personal load you create.
Ditch the VOCs
That would be the potentially harmful volatile organic compounds typically found in air freshening sprays, perfumes, cosmetics, paints, cleaning products and liquid fuels. These can lead to indoor air levels of many pollutants being up to 10 times higher than outdoor levels. Switch to low VOC alternatives or better still avoid them altogether.
Be aware of histamine and its role in allergic response
If you suffer with hayfever you’re probably only too aware of the role histamine plays in your body’s response to allergy.
Hayfever can be explained as an excessive reaction to a normally harmless substance. The immune system identifies the harmless substance, in this instance pollen, as dangerous and produces an antibody called IgE, which triggers the production of histamine. Histamine is an inflammatory chemical that causes swelling, mucus formation and itching and burning in localised areas such as the throat, nose and eyes.
Keep your body toxin free
Avoiding junk foods, caffeine and alcohol, can help as they contain high levels of histamine and may trigger inflammation. Dairy foods cause mucus formation, placing strain on already overburdened sinuses - even fermented and otherwise healthy foods, such as sauerkraut and avocados, can be troublesome.
Spice things up
If you’ve ever been a little generous with the chillies in your homemade curry, you’ll know the effect peppers can have on your sinuses. This is because they contain a compound called capsaicin which breaks down mucus, causing it to flow – which is great for congestion.
Incorporate quercetin into your diet
Quercetin is a pigment that belongs to a group of plant compounds called flavonoids. It is found naturally in apples (with the skin on), red onions, cherries, capers and black tea, and is well-documented for its antihistamine activity .
According to healthline.com, the average person consumes 10 – 100mg daily  through various food sources. Quercetin supplements are also available. Try Lamberts Quercetin 500mg or Solgar’s Quercetin Complex .
Fall in love with Luffa (and other plants)
As far as herbals are concerned there are several plants that are noted for their supportive action of the respiratory system. Luffa operculata can help with sneezing, blocked and runny noses. It is usually teamed with Galphimia glauca, which can be especially useful for reducing eye irritation triggered by hayfever and allergic rhinitis. Pollinosan Hayfever Tablets from A.Vogel contain both and are non-drowsy so will not affect your ability to drive or use machinery. They can be taken ‘on the spot’, or started two weeks prior symptoms, if your symptoms regularly appear at the same time each year. A nasal spray is also available for immediate relief.
If nasal passages are sore and dry, Sinuforce Nasal Spray provides moisture-holding hyaluronic acid and soothing Chamomile.
For eyes that are particularly sensitive, try Euphrasia in the form of eye drops.