What is Hay Fever?
If you are lucky enough to never have suffered hay fever is an allergy to the pollen that is released from plants. It is a fine and powdery substance that contains proteins that inflame the blood vessels in the eyes and nose. This inflammation can cause sneezing and coughing, as well as itchy eyes. In extreme cases it can cause pain around the temples, forehead, and ears. The hay fever is at its worst between March-September.
Does Alcohol Make it Worse?
Unfortunately, alcohol has been known to exacerbate symptoms. Champagne in particular as a 2001 study found that 22 out of 28 participants developed hay fever symptoms after drinking a single glass of wine. This is because all beers, wine and spirits contain histamines. Histamine is produced as a result of an immune response to inflammation. It causes capillaries to become more penetrable to white blood cells which attack foreign substances in the body, consequently leading to the inflammation of affected tissues. This also causes fluid to leak out of the capillaries which is why sufferers get itchy eyes and runny noses. When alcohol is ingested the amount of histamines in the blood increases, and therefore deteriorates the symptoms of hay fever.
Why is Champagne the Worst? Are any OK?
Histamine is prevalent in darker, fermented drinks such as red wine or beer, so those are best avoided. The worst drink is Champagne which contains 84mg per 125ml, so it would be advised to keep celebrations to the winter months. Whereas red wine comes in at 15mg, and beer 14mg. It’s not all bad though as some clear spirits are significantly lower in histamine. Gin and vodka are the best for hay fever sufferers as they contain little to no sulphites. Sulphites can trigger allergic reactions so definitely should be avoided. So, it is still possible to enjoy that G&T.
What Can I do to Relieve my Symptoms?
The obvious drinking less alcohol would be one way to reduce hay fever symptoms. However, there are other less arduous ways to diminish suffering. Applying Vaseline around the nostril area will cause pollen to become trapped before it is able to enter your nose. Dusting with a damp cloth is better than a dry one as it stops the fine particles being spread into the air around you. Keep windows up when driving to prevent pollen from getting inside your car and irritating you.
Other ways that symptoms can be relieved is through medication. Antihistamines can help to make life easier for hay fever sufferers. Antihistamines work by blocking the production of histamines which reduces inflammation and therefore can reduce symptoms entirely. One medication that is extremely effective at this is fexofenadine. The drug inhibits the inflammation and can prevent the runny nose and watery eyes. So, if you’re planning a big night fexofenadine can help.
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