It’s Spring, the birds are singing, the trees are budding and the bees are hard at work. For hay fever sufferers though, things are not quite so pleasant; scratchy throat, sneezing, watering eyes, itchy skin, shortness of breath and low mood...
Never fear there are things you can do, so you can enjoy Spring and Summer.
1. What is Hay Fever?
Hay fever is also known as Allergic Rhinitis, an auto immune condition where the body’s immune system overreacts to the presence of dust, pollen and dander. Your body thinks the pollen is a virus attacking you and reacts to defend you, causing typical hay fever symptoms.
2. It’s just a Spring/Summer thing
Hay fever can be triggered by a wide range of things that are released into the air all year round. You could be affected for one month per year or all year round.
For example, I‘m affected by tree pollen which means I suffer mostly from February to June.
For more detailed information see the pollen calendar:
3. Making home happy again
First let’s limit the amount of pollen/dust entering you home.
close windows and door;
wash clothes to remove pollen from them and dry them indoors;
shower at the end of the day to remove pollen from your hair.
Dealing with pollen that has entered your home:
Try an air purifier that filters the air and aim for a HEPA grade filter. Note, ionisers only work when combined with a filter as they only cause the pollen/dust to sink to the floor. It is still there and any disturbance could put it in the air again.
Use a vaccum cleaner and dust regularly to get rid of surface dust and pollen.
Nasal sprays are good; they trap the pollen in your nasal hairs so it cannot enter you airways.
Myself, I like window open as much as possible and use an air purifier to manage the pollen levels. At bedtime I make sure the air purifier has been running for an hour before, so I can sleep more easily.
4. Lets keep active
Getting out, absorbing UV and being active is very good for you and helps our bodies to work properly. Try to exercise during low pollen days to help manage your Cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone released to help the body react to potential dangers; it is an anti-histamine so could help. However, research has shown it can make hay fever symptoms worse and last longer.
On high pollen days avoid strenuous exercise, as this will increases histamine levels making your hay fever symptoms worse. Instead on high pollen days consider stress reducing actives such as, listening to music, meditation, gentle yoga or a reiki session.
Here are some things that can also help:
Nasal spray: can really help to stop the pollen entering airways - to use a nasal spray you need to coat your nasal hairs rather than spray down your nose. 1) Tilt head forwards, 2) give two sprays per nostril;
Cycle Mask: if you are doing something more demanding consider a mask (please note a mask does limit air flow and may be unsuitable if you have asthma or other breathing difficulties, it will also need period replacement as it gets filled with dust/pollen and bacteria builds up).
Antihistamine: You can ask your pharmacist about anti-histamine medication to reduce inflammation.
Eye drops: I personally find eye drops help with dry itchy eyes during hey fever season.
5. Diet changes
Things to remove/reduce from your diet:
Alcohol: has an inflammatory action that makes hayfever worse.
Tea/coffee: caffeine has the effect of increasing histamine. So reducing caffine will reduce the effect of hey fever.
Dairy: things like milk, cream and cheese all increase mucous production which leads to blocked noses.
Refined sugars and carbohydrates: cause a surge in sugar and then a fall that raises histamine response.
Things to add to your diet:
Vitamin C: reduces histamine levels and improved nasal passage lining.
Spices: Ginger boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation, acts as a decongestant and reduces histamine. Onions also help to stabilise histamine in the body.