Can Drinking Water Help My Allergies?
Water is an important cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle — from helping your body regulate its temperature to flushing out toxins, keeping you regular, and helping your skin stay clear and fresh, drinking enough water is an effective way to keep your body running smoothly.
To understand water’s impact on specific health issues, like allergies, it’s important to know how your body deals with them in the first place. It also helps to have a realistic grasp on what water can, and can’t do, when it comes to reducing your allergy symptoms and helping keep you healthy and happy all year long.
Does Drinking Water Reduce Histamine?
The body’s reaction to seasonal allergies — the pollen and irritants that come along every spring and summer — is determined by levels of histamine. Histamine is a compound that plays a crucial role in regulating your body’s inflammation responses. Histamine, in varying concentrations, is also generally the reason you feel itchy.
An allergic reaction is essentially a histamine overreaction to a pollutant or irritant, and this is where water plays an important role in keeping you healthy. When our bodies are dehydrated, nothing runs as well as when we have enough water on board, and this includes a healthy, appropriate histamine response.
Because dehydration can influence the body’s natural histamine response, making sure you drink enough water can be an effective way to help keep your histamine response in check. If you’re slightly dehydrated, for example, there’s a good chance any histamine reaction you experience to a pollen or irritant will be more pronounced than if you had proper levels of hydration.
Water can be an effective tool to help you manage allergy symptoms and improve a whole host of other bodily functions, and even your mood. That’s not to say that drinking lots of water can cure seasonal allergies — always get help from a medical professional for serious allergies.
Water and Food Allergies
In the same way that water can help regulate the body’s response to seasonal allergies, water can also help regulate the body’s response to food-related allergies.
For example, if you ingest something that causes your body to produce an allergic reaction, water can essentially help dilute the irritant and again, assist in regulating an appropriate histamine response.
It’s important to note again however that water can’t prevent or interrupt serious allergic reactions. Always follow your doctor’s advice and get medical attention immediately if you’re experiencing a severe allergic reaction.
What is Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening, allergic reaction that can take place seconds or minutes after exposure to something you’re allergic to. Anaphylaxis causes your immune system to release a flood of chemicals causing your body to go into “anaphylactic shock”. During this process your blood pressure suddenly drops, and your airways narrow making it extremely difficult to breathe.
Signs and Symptoms of Anaphylaxis include:
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Constriction of airways and/or a swollen tongue
- Skin reactions (hives, itching, flush or pale skin)
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness or fainting
Treatment of anaphylaxis requires an injection of epinephrine. If anaphylaxis isn’t treated immediately and correctly, it can be fatal.
What is Aquagenic Urticaria/Pruritus?
Anaphylaxis is usually induced by allergic reactions to foods, medicines or insect stings, but in extremely rare cases it can be caused by contact with water.
Aquagenic urticaria and aquagenic pruritus are allergic reactions that happen when the body releases histamine due to exposure to water on the skin (from showering, swimming, and in some cases, even from just drinking a glass of water). Aquagenic Pruritus causes itchiness while aquagenic urticaria is a bit more severe and can cause a rash or hives.
Most cases of aquagenic urticaria and aquagenic pruritus are sporadic without underlying cause, but in some cases can be genetic. Doctors often diagnose either condition by performing a water provocation test to determine if the patient has a water allergy. The most extreme cases of aquagenic urticaria can cause gastrointestinal problems preventing those with this condition from drinking large amounts of water. Although this condition is very uncommon, there are several individuals every year that deal with this condition on a daily basis.