Do you smell that? Well, no, maybe you can’t. The seasons are changing once again, and another dreaded allergy season is here. Having gone through seemingly endless boxes of tissues, it can be hard to look forward to the sniffle-free light at the end of the tunnel – especially when you can’t think straight.
On top the usual symptoms, allergies can make you feel dizzy, hazy, tired, and imbalanced. Luckily, there may soon be some relief: scientists now have a better understanding of how allergies can cloud our brains.
The body views allergens as an assault on its immune system and reacts by producing histamines. These compounds cause muscle contractions and blood vessel dilation, which causes the body to release proteins called cytokines. These signal the surrounding tissue to brace against the offenders.
This process combines with other functions that result in inflammation, hitting us straight in the sinuses, nasal membranes, throats, eyes, and lungs. The unfortunate cherry on top? Brain fog. The most likely explanation for clouded thinking is that inflammation is what is responsible for disrupting stable mental functioning, including restful sleep. Even a few sleep disruptions at night can cause imbalance, exhaustion, and loss of focus. The longer these symptoms linger, the longer one experiences brain fog.
One study examined the link between the swelling of the mucous membranes in the nose and cognitive function. Researchers found that the brain compensated for the inflammation stress in the short term. However, over time, cognition gradually decreased. Since allergies can strain the brain, key functions, such as memory and attention, may suffer.
Experts recommend beating the brain fog by controlling symptoms, getting plenty of sleep, and avoiding what sets you off.
What natural nutritional support is available to help allergies? Since probiotics help the body maintain a healthy balance of its internal gut bacteria, some researchers believe that taking probiotics may boost the immune system which can then help the body fight allergies.
In addition, bromelain is a popular natural support for inflammation, especially of the sinuses. Bromelain is an enzyme derived from pineapples that is available as a nutritional product. Research on mice suggests that bromelain may reduce allergic sensitization due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties.