Bright skies, warm weather, blooming flowers. For many of us, spring is a great time of year. But for those who suffer from hay fever, it signals that some uncomfortable symptoms—a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes—are about to arrive.
With the “brain fog” of fatigue, reduced concentration, alertness, and a decline in learning as consequences, allergies can make it difficult for even the most efficient people to be productive. This can result in lost work time and reduced performance.
If your employees are one of the 20% to 25% of Canadians affected by this allergy, they may already have a bottle of antihistamines on their desk. But while pharmaceuticals can go a long way toward easing symptoms, they can also cause drowsiness and further reduce productivity.
Let’s take a closer look at how hay fever works and what alternative remedies your employees can consider.
What Causes Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis)?
Hay fever is caused by an overreaction from your immune system in response to allergens, such as airborne mold spores or pollens from grass, trees, and weeds. When this happens, your body releases huge amounts of histamine to counteract the invader, setting off symptoms of sneezing, tearing or itchy eyes, nasal congestion, etc.
While some people experience seasonal hay fever during spring or summer, others are affected throughout the year. Either way, it can be difficult to fully enjoy life when symptoms are in full swing.
How Do You Treat Hay Fever?
The best way to control hay fever is to limit exposure to allergens and irritants. Before your employees do anything else, let them know these 3 simple prevention tips:
1. Research pollen counts in your neighbourhood. The Weather Network Allergy Outlook is a useful guide that measures the potential for pollen to trigger allergic reactions in susceptible people.
2. Be mindful on high pollen count days. Avoid visiting grassy areas or doing any gardening until the counts are lower.
3. Reduce pollen build-up. Shower at night and change into fresh clothes after a day outside to minimize pollen on your hair and body.
If your employees can’t avoid the pollen and symptoms persist, they may want to consider alternative treatments.
Which Paramedical Practitioners Can Help?
Over-the-counter medicines such as antihistamine tablets, nasal sprays, eye drops, and creams will ease allergy symptoms, but they don’t get to the heart of the matter.
Many paramedical practitioners, on the other hand, aim to treat the causes of your health ailments, as well as the symptoms. These highly trained professionals offer wellness services, such as acupuncture, that are not covered under Canada’s public health insurance plan. They can be a great alternative to pharmaceuticals, especially when it comes to managing hay fever.
If you do have an allowance for paramedical practitioners in your company’s workplace benefits package, be sure to communicate the coverages and limitations to your employees. Once your employees know their coverage, here are three types of practitioners they can consider:
Naturopaths believe that allergies are caused by weak adrenal, immune, and digestive function. They recommend beginning natural treatments 1–2 months before allergy season starts to reduce the severity of symptoms.
According to naturopathy, good health can ease allergy symptoms—and good health starts with good nutrition. Healthy eating also has numerous benefits in the workplace - check out our blog on Promoting Healthy Eating at Work to Boost Productivity.
People who react to airborne allergens may also be sensitive to certain foods. If you’re suffering from allergies, identifying those foods and removing them from your diet can go a long way.
Start by switching to a low-fat, high-complex-carbohydrate diet and drinking lots of water (half of your body weight in ounces every day). Incorporating and eliminating specific foods from your diet can also help.
Acupuncture-based allergy treatments act on the nervous and immune systems to offer both preventative and therapeutic benefits. This ancient medical practice engages the body’s regulatory mechanisms and helps transport substances that cause histamine, immune, and inflammatory response.
Even when you’re not experiencing any obvious symptoms, acupuncture aims to balance disharmonies in the body that might be contributing to your allergies. For this reason, starting treatment before symptoms appear is considered the most effective approach.
From TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) to French Energetics, there are many forms of acupuncture to choose from. To find the right fit for you, focus on how well the treatment works, rather than what style your practitioner uses.
Homeopathic medicine is based on the theory that the same substances that cause negative symptoms can be used to treat them—the idea that “like cures like.” For example, while exposure to large amounts of pollen can cause sneezing and watery eyes, homeopaths believe that ingesting an extremely diluted dose of it can alleviate those effects.
Homeopathy supports detoxification while desensitizing your bodily systems to known allergens. Through this dual effect, it can help ease both short- and long-term allergy symptoms. For long-term treatment, it’s best to seek help from a homeopathic professional. But if your employees are just looking for short-term relief, there are lots of allergy remedies they can explore on their own.
Constant itching, watery eyes, a runny nose—for many of us, allergy season is the worst time of year. But with some preplanning, preventative measures and alternative therapies, it doesn’t have to be. Starting naturopathic, homeopathic or acupuncture treatments ahead of allergy season can go a long way towards both treating the root causes of allergies, while also reducing the severity of symptoms.
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