How Hydration Affects Allergies
So since my last post I’ve fallen off the blogging horse, as well as the drinking adequate water horse. I’ve done some travelling and gotten into Summer in full swing, and have regressed into bad drinking habits again. Mainly, not drinking enough water.
Which leads me to this topic: allergies and water.
For me growing up, I had really bad allergies. Then they faded away for a while, with just some minor recurrences during the spring. Then this summer comes and I’m hit by some of the worst allergies I’ve had. My eyes water, my head is heavy, I sometimes can’t breath deep, I’m very lethargic and focusing on tasks is hard. All in all, I’m having a heck of a time fighting off the allergies this year.
I’m not a fan of taking pills, and want to beat this with natural products, so I start looking into it, and it turns out that my lack of sufficient hydration could be a large factor.
We know that water affects all parts of the body, from digestion to muscle control to core temperature, but one thing that I had never thought about is how it affects allergies.
Allergies and Histamines
So to start, lets look at what causes allergies: allergens and histamines.
When someone is allergic to something, say pollen (an allergen), the body thinks that the allergen is attacking it, so it goes into overdrive trying to protect itself. It then causes your immune system to produce histamines to fight the irritants. The result is watery eyes, mucus buildup, etc. This is why people take anti-histamines. To lessen the ‘charge’ of the histamines in your body.
Histamines and Water
But what most people don’t know is that histamines also control the flow of water in your body. This is why you may feel drowsy and dry after taking allergy pills: the side effect is also a lessening of water flow.
There have been recent studies into the effects of dehydration and allergies, and they seem to go hand in hand. A Dutch study showed that dehydration can cause a push in histamine production in the body, which can cause symptoms similar to seasonal allergies when you’ve been dehydrated for a long period of time.
So essentially, being dehydrated for a time (also termed ‘chronic dehydration’) can cause a reaction similar to seasonal allergies.
Now combine actual seasonal allergies with dehydration, and you get the worst of it. Your body is fighting off what it thinks are potentially harmful allergens, while it is also dehydrated and can’t function properly, and trying to pump out histamines just to get more water flowing.
Fight Allergies with Water
So there is no cure for seasonal allergies, but there are a number of things you can do to help yourself.
The first and foremost is to stay hydrated. Keep up the proper amount of water your body needs, and factor in more for those hot days where you’re sweating out more. If you stay hydrated, your body can react better to these allergens, not need to produce its own histamines due to lacking water, and you’ll feel much better.
You can also limit contact with outdoor allergens by getting a good filter on your air conditioner, and keeping windows closed. You should wash your hands and face when you come in from outside, since pollen and other particles will stick to you and eventually transfer themselves elsewhere. There are also a number of great books and guides into natural ways to fight allergies.
And finally its been suggested that eating a spoonful of local honey can lessen your allergies. This is thought to work because the honey is from pollen and your body will be more used to it if you ingest it often. Science has little to say about this yet, but it does kind of make sense….