Do you ever experience sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and mouth, red eyes, and inflammation in response to an inhaled, swallowed, or skin contact irritant? These are all symptoms of allergy, which is associated with an increase in the levels of the hormone histamine. If you have an allergy, have you ever noticed that your symptoms worsen around menstruation? Well, guess what? Those symptoms can change during perimenopause up to postmenopause as well.
What are allergies?
Allergies affect about 20 percent of Americans. An allergic reaction is what happens when your immune system reacts to a trigger or an allergen, which can include pollen, animal dander, mold, certain foods, or things that can irritate your skin. After the contact is made, your body makes immunoglobulin E, a protein that attaches to the allergen. That’s when histamine and other chemicals rush into your bloodstream and set off symptoms.
Why are allergies worse during menopause?
We don’t like to be the bearers of bad news, but you could begin to experience worsening allergy symptoms or even develop new ones, beginning in perimenopause. That doesn’t mean you’re without resources to remedy them…but let’s talk about the allergies first.
Histamine is triggered by allergens, and your body’s histamine levels are related to the amount of estrogen your body makes. Because your body’s estrogen levels are changing during perimenopause and menopause, so do your histamine levels. This action makes your body more susceptible to allergens, which in turn can make your allergic symptoms worse.
Some women find that foods they once were able to eat without any reactions now cause a rash. Others have had seasonal allergies or hayfever their entire lives and during perimenopause or menopause, their sneezing and itchy eyes are much more bothersome. Still, other women have no noticeable reaction at all.
Very few women will experience an autoimmune response in which their body becomes allergic to the hormones it is producing. Autoimmune progesterone dermatitis is the most common form of this rare occurrence.
How can I treat allergies naturally?
If you want to skip the over-the-counter and prescription medicines for allergy relief, there are many natural remedies that are quite effective. You may need to experiment with a few to find one that works best for you.
Nasal irrigation. You can use a neti pot or similar device with a saline solution to irrigate your nasal passages. Research shows that this practice can benefit both kids and adults with hay fever.
HEPA filters. You can install HEPA filters in your home to help trap airborne pollutants. These high-efficiency particulate air filters can effectively reduce the levels of allergens in your home or office.
Natural supplements. A number of natural supplements can help reduce allergic reactions.
- Butterbur (Petasites hybridus), for example, has been found to reduce itchy eyes due to allergies.
- Use of the herb stinging nettle provides natural antihistamine relief.
- The potent antioxidant quercetin may control the release of histamines control allergy symptoms. Although quercetin is found in various foods (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, green tea, citrus), it is also available as a supplement.
- Vitamin C is another natural substance that can help with allergies. Taking 2,000 milligrams of this vitamin daily can reduce histamine levels.
- Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple and papaya, may bring down swelling, which in turn reduces symptoms.
- Spirulina, blue-green algae, also may reduce symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Add to a smoothie!
Acupuncture. The consensus of more than a dozen studies was that acupuncture can help with symptoms of seasonal and year-round allergies.
Probiotics. Beneficial bacteria may improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis and quality of life, according to a meta-analysis. Take according to package directions or the advice of your healthcare provider.
Essential oils. Three essential oils in particular can be helpful for managing allergy symptoms. Peppermint and frankincense are best when used in a diffuser and inhaled. Keeping a diffuser next to your bed at night may help with sleep. Eucalyptus oil drops can be added to laundry because it acts as an antimicrobial agent and can help clear allergens.
Omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids may reduce the production of chemicals in the body that causes inflammation. A suggested dose is 1 to 1.2 grams daily of fish oil or 1 tablespoon two to three times daily of flaxseed oil.
when to see a health provider
If your allergy symptoms worsen during perimenopause or menopause or you develop new allergies and reactions, you should discuss these changes with your healthcare provider. This is a precaution, as it’s possible for new allergies to progress into anaphylaxis.
Worsening of current allergies and the development of new ones are both possible when you reach perimenopause and menopause. However, there are many natural management tools you can use to alleviate symptoms.