This year, hay fever symptoms seem to really be causing so many of us a great deal of trouble. It may be that the weather conditions have caused the ‘perfect storm’ as plants have grown very well due to the rainy conditions and then the sun followed – allowing them to produce more pollen than usual. There’s also some thought that because we have been in lockdown, our immune systems have down regulated as we have not become acclimatised to environmental allergens. Whatever the reason for the increase in symptoms, a natural approach is best. There are plenty of pharmaceutical options such as tablets, eyedrops and nasal sprays – however, these cause our defensive mucus membranes to dry up and this simply worsens the overall problem after providing a little immediate relief. Allergies are a holistic problem and should be treated as such, so please take a look at these common sense, yet proven to work strategies that we hope will provide you and yours with much needed relief from the misery that hay-fever causes.
- Change clothes when you get home
Pollen sticks to your clothes when you’re outside, which can explain the continuation of symptoms after you get home. Changing into different clothes as soon as you get home could help to prevent this.
- Dry clothes indoors or tumble dry
Although washing your clothes removes pollen, drying them outside can lead to pollen sticking to them again. If possible, tumble drying clothes or hanging them inside can stop pollen getting to them.
- Avoid going out at certain times
Pollen tends to be most irritating early in the morning and late in the evening, as it rises and falls with the temperature. Make plans outside these times if possible.
- Rinse your hair
Like your clothes, pollen can latch onto your hair and lead to hay fever symptoms. Rinsing your hair regularly with water can help to stop this.
- Keep pets clean
Regularly brushing or bathing your pets during hay fever season can reduce the amount of pollen they bring into your home.
- Monitor the weather forecast
If you keep a close eye on the weather forecast you can generally get an indication of the pollen count for the day. You can also find out the pollen count from your local news website. If the pollen count is high, it may be best to stay indoors.
- Keep windows closed
Keeping windows closed will stop the pollen getting into your home or car. On hot days this can be difficult, so make sure you have a fan or air conditioning to keep you cool.
- Avoid gardening
Avoiding gardening can reduce your exposure to pollen. However, some grasses are more likely to release pollen the taller they grow, so it may be a good idea to ask someone without hay fever to cut your grass for you.
- Choose your sunglasses carefully
Some sunglasses can help to stop pollen reaching your eyes and making them itchy. Wraparound styles are the most effective at this.
- Defend your nose
If you can stop pollen getting into your news, hay fever symptoms will reduce. One method is by applying Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen.
- Stop smoking
Cigarette smoke will irritate the lining of your airways and make allergies worse.
- Go towards the sea
Like cigarette smoke, air pollution can exacerbate the symptoms of hay fever, meaning that hay fever symptoms can occur more regularly in big cities. Heading towards the sea can be beneficial as there is less air pollution and the sea breeze blows pollen inland.
- Eat a spicy meal
If your symptoms include a stuffy, blocked nose, spicy food can help. Chilli can help to widen airways and make it easier to breathe, while other spices such as turmeric are natural anti-inflammatories.
- Eat berries and beans
A flavanol called quercetin, which is found in green vegetables, berries, beans and apples, has been found to suppress histamine production. Foods rich in beta carotene such as carrots, spinach, and yellow fruit can soothe a blocked nose and painful sinuses.
- Try a herbal tea
Various herbal teas may help to manage your hay fever. For example, camomile and nettle tea both have antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Stay away from foods that produce histamine
Histamine is the chemical your body produces in response to infection, and causes swelling that protects your body. In hay fever sufferers, it is released when it isn’t needed. Some foods either contain histamine or encourage your body to produce more of it, and should be avoided. Some of these foods include pickles, cured and smoked meat and fish, nuts, and alcohol.
- Beware of pharmaceutical antihistamines
Antihistamines are the most common treatment for hay fever. They are used when you experience symptoms or, if you know which type of pollen you’re allergic to, you can take them during your hay fever season to stop symptoms before they happen. However, some antihistamines may make you drowsy, and dramatically dry up your mucus membranes – which can cause itchy eyes to get much worse. Pharmaceutical antihistamines should only be used as a last resort.
- Ask about nasal sprays
If a blocked nose is your main problem, look for a saline nasal spray – as with conventional antihistamines above, the pharmaceutical nasal sprays can cause all sorts of undesirable side-effects.
- Invest in eye drops
For hay fever sufferers who are mainly affected by problems with their eyes, eye drops can help. Pharmaceutical varieties contain antihistamines and can help with symptoms such as itching, redness and watering, but then there’s the rebound effect – making things much worse as they dry out mucus membranes. Opt instead for homeopathic eye-drops – or eye moisturisers – particularly making sure that they are preservative-free.