Although many of us look forward to country walks with family and BBQ parties with friends in the summer, the season also brings with it high pollen counts – a nightmare for any sufferers of hay fever.
That’s quite a lot of us. About one in four people in the UK is affected by hay fever, ranging from mild symptoms to severe problems. It can play havoc with our health and our daily routine, with inflamed nostrils, multiple sneezes throughout the day, scratchy throats, red, watery eyes, and runny noses.
All in all, it’s not very pleasant. If left untreated, it can also develop into further breathing problems like asthma. So what can you do to combat and avoid hay fever?
Make changes at home first
You need to be as comfortable as you can be when you’re at home; it’s the place where you relax, unwind, and sleep. That means keeping pollen out of all your rooms wherever possible.
- Don’t mow the lawn – it will disturb pollen and send it scattering around your house
- Close all windows during the day, to prevent any pollen coming aside (it’s OK to have them open at night.)
- Wash your hair and change your clothes more frequently – pollen sticks to every part of you, especially your clothes and hair, so be sure to wash much more frequently during hay fever season, especially before bed. Take your clothes off outside of your bedroom too, to avoid bringing pollen into the room and onto pillows
- This also means you should avoid drying clothes outside – stick with the tumble dryer or maiden
- Clean more often too, including hoovering and dusting regularly. You’ll never keep all the pollen out, so best to prevent it sticking to carpets and furniture wherever possible
- If you’ve got pets, you might want to keep them separate from any hay fever sufferers, as they will bring in pollen from outside too.
Stock up on the medicines
They type of medicines you need will depend entirely on the type of pollen you’re allergic too and the severity of your symptoms. It’s always best to speak with a pharmacist or GP to get a professional opinion.
Over the counter antihistamines can relieve suffering, whilst nasal sprays can ease the inflammation in your nostrils. These should be bought and started before the hay fever season, to ensure medication is in your system and working against pollen immediately.
Creating a nasal barrier can also be effective. Rub a balm like Vaseline inside your nostrils – or use a targeted nasal spray – to prevent pollen from sticking to the inside of your nose and causing irritation throughout the day.
Watch your diet
Certain foods help reduce symptoms, whilst others can worsen hay fever for some people, so be careful what you eat during the high pollen season.
A balanced diet is always vital, but be wary of apples, bananas, celery, melon and tomatoes. Surveys and studies of hay fever sufferers have found these foods to make symptoms more severe, possible because residue pollen can be found on the food, and because they contain some histamine stimulant too.
Instead, opt for those anti-inflammatory foods to help reduce swelling in your nose and throat. The best are those with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids – like oily fish, nuts and seeds. Stock up ahead of hay fever season. Some people swear by a spoonful of locally produced honey every day too, to help build up immunity to the pollen in your area.
Be sure to avoid alcohol – even if it is hard during those summer BBQ parties! Not only does alcohol dehydrate you, and make your symptoms seem worse, beer, wine and spirits make you more sensitive to pollen. They also all contain a chemical histamine that sets off allergy symptoms.
Believe it or not, regular exercise can help you combat hay fever and relieve the symptoms associated with it!
- On its own, studies have shown that those who exercise regularly have much milder symptoms of hay fever throughout the entire season, and their minds are also distracted from the impact symptoms can have.
- Exercise will reduce stress, which is beneficial too. Those with lower stress levels have been found to have milder symptoms of hay fever as well
- And exercise also helps you sleep better. A well rested body, with regular sleep, is essential at fighting hay fever and relieving associated symptoms.
Be careful of your timings
If you’re walking outdoors or exercising outside, be very careful about the time you choose for any kind of activity. In the heat of the summer, we often time our outdoor exercise to first thing early morning or evening time after work.
These are the times when the pollen count is at its highest, between 8am and 10am and 5pm – 7pm. That’s because the air is warming up or cooling down, and so pollen is moving around more freely.
If you’re exercising outside, try either late morning or early afternoon, when pollen counts are lowest – but be wary of the sun and the heat. Staying indoors at the gym may be the better option during hay fever season.
Do you suffer from hay fever? What do you do to relieve systems? Are there any tips or tricks that you swear by that you’d like share?