Here in Florida it’s pollen season. And it hits hard. The oak pollen I’m holding here in my hands will fall like golden snow for weeks only to be replaced by pollen from flowers, grass and other trees and bushes.
So, if you have seasonal allergies that cause uncomfortable symptoms (such as a running, clogged nose, sneezing and itchy eyes) and, like me, live somewhere that pollen takes over for months at a stretch, this would probably be the time of year you buy a one-way ticket for a frozen Alaskan tundra, the Arizona desert or somewhere else that’s blissfully pollen-free and never look back.
But, if moving isn’t an option for you, then you’d likely do all you could to minimize allergy symptoms, such as staying indoors during the day, keeping shoes by the front door so you don’t track allergens inside, running a HEPA filter to keep indoor air clean and washing your hair before going to sleep so you don’t get a face full of allergens that may have latched onto your tresses during the day.
Well, if you’re a woman with a monthly menstrual cycle, I’d also like to let you know there are certain days in your cycle when you need to step up your anti-allergy game.
When seasonal allergies strike hardest in your cycle
Turns out, the same high estrogen that gives you a brighter mood, more energy and a revved libido can also be a bit of a traitor, making your immune system more sensitive to allergens, causing a more intense reaction.
In fact, this increased sensitivity to allergens from high estrogen is believed to be one of the reasons some women develop hay fever and other allergies during pregnancy–a time when your estrogen level spikes.
2 hormonal risk factors for allergies in women
Demonstrating more links between estrogen and allergies, new research suggests that women who began having menstrual cycles at age 11 or younger are more likely to suffer from seasonal allergies. It may be that a greater exposure to estrogen at a younger age puts these women at higher risk for allergy sensitivities.
And the same study found that women who have an index finger (first finger) that’s significantly longer than their ring finger (third finger) are nearly twice as likely to experience hay fever than women with fingers that are closer in length. Why? Some research suggests that finger length indicates how much estrogen you were exposed to in the womb–and a higher amount of this hormone during gestation (indicated by a longer index finger) may make your immune system react more strongly to allergens.
2 benefits of knowing when allergies spike in your cycle
Now that you know when allergy symptoms are more likely to intensify, what can you do with this information?
You can prepare a stronger fight against allergies when these days come around–doubling down on keeping allergens at bay and working with your healthcare provider to see if you can increase allergy treatments during this time.
Scheduling a skin prick test to pinpoint allergies? Here’s another benefit of knowing when symptoms spike in your cycle: Research (such as this and this) suggests getting your test during this high-sensitivity phase ensures more accurate results, which can help your healthcare provider offer the most effective treatment.
Natural remedies to reduce allergy symptoms
Tired of allergy medicines that leave you with a dry mouth, drowsiness, anxiety or other unwanted side effects or simply prefer more natural treatments? There are easy non-drug remedies to try, including….
Probiotics: New research from the University of Florida (ahem, where they know a thing or two about allergies–refer to photo above) shows that supplementing with the “good” bacteria lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, found in the probiotic blend Kyo-Dophilus in health food stores and Amazon.com, reduces seasonal allergy symptoms by helping to regulate your immune system’s reaction to allergens.
Ginger: Drinking ginger tea or taking 250 mg. of powdered ginger daily may reduce hay fever symptoms, according to a study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. The compound that gives ginger its unique flavor—6-gingerol—appears to reduce your immune system’s reaction to allergy triggers. [Note: Before taking ginger, check out its precautions here.]
Wearing sunglasses: Doctors advise wearing sunglasses daily—even when it’s overcast—to protect your eyes from ultraviolet damage that can penetrate clouds. And here’s one more reason to don sunglasses whenever you head outdoors in the daytime: You’ll have less eye irritation due to allergies, according to research from Turkey’s Hacettepe University. That’s because sunglasses block pollen from coming in contact with your eyes, keeping them more comfortable.
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Gabrielle Lichterman launched the growing movement to live in sync with your cycle and discover how your hormones impact your moods, health and behavior with her groundbreaking book, 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals about Your Love Life, Moods and Potential. Learn more about Gabrielle and how you can join her mission to educate future generations of girls and women about their hormones.
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