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Gluten Intolerance and Hay fever

Did you know that Hay fever or allergies related to seasonal change (normally spring) pollen and grass can be connected to gluten intolerance?

Some people have an allergy to a protein in wheat called gliadin. People with Non-celiac gluten sensitivity are sensitive to gluten (another protein found in wheat, barely, rye, and other grains) and those with Celiac Disease are intolerant to it. Note that this is not an allergy. However, studies have shown that those sensitive to gluten also are sensitive to gliadin.

When someone is sensitive to gluten, your immune system is already on hyper alert. The gut is normally inflamed and your body is super sensitive to other external and internal factors causing it to be on over drive. Bring pollen into the picture and now the body produces histamine to counter the pollen invaders.

How going off gluten ended my struggle with hay fever

I don’t remember suffering with hay fever as a child. In fact, the first time I remember getting hay fever was when I moved to the Western Cape in 1994 as a teenager. I was told that many people suffered with seasonal allergies here due to the spraying of the vineyards. Sure enough,my seasonal allergies started in Spring. It was intense, severe and lasted the first few weeks of spring and into the summer, dying down in the middle of summer.

I remember that I would wake up and the first thing I would do upon opening my eyes was sneeze. Not just once, but over and over again. Sometimes I would have a “fit” in what felt like an explosion of multiple sneezes all at once.

When I got married (at 19) my allergies were very bad and I suffered with hay fever right through my twenties into my early thirties. My husband used to count my sneezes and more than once he counted 50 sneezes in a row! It didn’t end with a morning bout, but continued on throughout the day. I could pull “strings” out my eyes. Sometimes I would be totally exhausted from the sneezing and the roof of my palette would be raw with all the scratching I would do to try alleviate the itch that was there constantly.

When I was 35 I went off gluten completely and guess what? My severe seasonal allergies ceased. It was an amazing relief!

I still get the occasional seasonal allergies now but nowhere near as intense and severe as I used to get. No more eye goo and no more sneezing marathons! Even now when I work in the garden and I pull out grass, my arms will break out in a rash but I don’t react the way I used to when I was on gluten.

The idea that gluten intolerance and hay fever are connected is still highly debatable in the medical world, but all I can say from my own experience and others that it worked for me.

photos: my own ©Bonnie van Esch

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