30% of Irish adults have taken leave from work due to their allergies in the past year, a sizeable 50% increase on the figures reported in a similar report from 2017. 

In the first report of its kind, the Scope Gut Health Index reports that Irish people’s general mood (35%) and sleep (28%) are most affected by their allergies.

With this, there can be additional knock-on effects including sleep interruptions and low-levels of general mood, daytime fatigue and even decreased productivity.

Almost 20% of people said that their allergies have affected their participation in outdoor activities, which is a 33% increase from the last survey in 2017.

This shows that not only are allergies more prevalent than before, they are also increasingly affecting people’s day-to-day lives. 

The new research report from healthcare company, Scope highlights that while allergy season affects 4 in 10 people, 1 in 3 people do not use medications to treat their allergies, according to the Index.

When asked about how they treat their allergy symptoms, 19% of people said that they have “tried everything”, while 81% said that they are unaware of what products can help to alleviate their allergy symptoms.

The new findings shed light into people’s attitudes towards good digestive health, and its effects on digestive disorders, allergies, UTIs, yeast infections, the immune system, and general children’s health.

60% of women surveyed have been diagnosed with digestive issues in the past and over half of them have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Another strong statistic from the findings shows that more than 3 in 10 of those surveyed suffer with severe headaches and out of those, 33% take a probiotic to help manage symptoms.

Managing Allergies

Éva Hill-Hamilton, nutritionist at Scope, shares her top 10 tips to combat allergies during this high pollen season.

  • Cutting out pro-inflammatory foods like processed meats, sugary drinks and trans-fats is a good start. Try replacing the pro-inflammatory foods with anti-inflammatory essential fats and antioxidants from the likes of green leafy vegetables, blueberries, pineapple, salmon, herbs and spices.
  • Hayfever is associated with an oversensitive immune system, of which 70% is located in the gut and influenced by the diversity of our gut flora. To help boost your immune system and rebalance your gut flora, Bio-Kult offer a full range of multi-strain live bacteria supplements.
  • To ensure pollen exposure is reduced when entering your home, remove and wash your clothes. This will control the pollen level in your home. Also, if you have pets, refrain from letting them enter your bedroom as the pollen may transfer from your pet onto your bed which is a recipe for a bad night’s sleep!
  • The composition of our natural gut flora can fluctuate in response to external factors such an antibiotic, leading to negative changes. Disturbances of normal bowel function can prompt symptoms such as bloating and intestinal pain to occur. So, it’s important to take a probiotic on an ongoing basis, especially during and after a course of antibiotics to set the balance right again.
  • Eye drops can also provide symptomatic relief for people suffering with hay fever, but we recommend working on a prevention method than struggling with allergy symptoms. Our advice is to optimise your Vitamin D levels and the diversity of your gut flora throughout the year.
  • Herbal teas like nettle or liquorice and peppermint with natural antihistamine properties are also good at reducing inflammation. Caffeine can often make symptoms worse.
  • Vitamin D can activate certain regulatory immune system cells that prevent the release of chemicals, which can cause and even worsen allergies. The simple addition of a Vitamin D supplement to the diet can be really beneficial during allergy season.
  • The natural antihistamines found in cauliflower, grapes, green tea and vitamin C from orange, lemon, peppers can help ease symptoms without any side effects.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated when suffering from allergies. Typically, in Ireland, we are advised to drink approx. 8 glasses of fluid per day to prevent dehydration.
  • Make a note of how frequent you suffer from allergies. If you can identify triggers and stimulants, it will make life a lot easier when you understand the condition and what is best to avoid.

Scope Gut Health Index

Commenting on Eva’s top tips, Sarah Ussher, Product Manager at Scope said:

“Summer is a tough time for people who suffer with allergies. It’s important to remember that even though prevention is better than cure, it’s never too late to start combating symptoms.

“As Eva’s top tips show, looking after your gut, maintaining a healthy diet and using products that reduce inflammation are the best ways to reduce hay fever symptoms, among other allergies.”

To read the full Scope Gut Health Index, visit: http://www.scopehealthcare.ie/uploads/documents/GeneralDocuments/Gut_Education_Index_Final.pdf