70 Ways to Survive Hay fever
99% of the people we come across tells us that #JasperBean looks like me and obviously I’m delighted to hear this! Unfortunately, apart from our physical similarities and personality, we including S, also suffer from the dreaded seasonal allergy – hay fever! I have had hay fever for as long as I can remember and every year we suffer from the following symptoms:
- frequent sneezing
- runny nose or blocked sinuses
- itchy, red, watery eyes
- an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
- loss of concentration etcetc.
Being at school sucked big time as I couldnt concentrate at all! I’m lucky I even graduated! I was physically and mentally drained and I don’t want #JasperBean to go through what I did. I understand that it’s not directly life threatening nor is it a disability, but it can seriously affect a sufferer’s quality of life.
Hay fever season is probably longer than you think:
- Tree pollen: late March to mid-May
- Grass pollen: mid-May to July
- Weed pollen: end of June to September.
So today, I would like to share with you 70 ways to survive hay fever. There is no cure and you can’t prevent yourself from getting it but there are many ways to ease your symptoms. Some methods may work better than others for you, and some may even work better one month than the next depending on what your allergen is and how severe it is.
Ways to Survive Hay fever
- Put Vaseline around your nostril to trap pollen.
- Wear glasses (preferably the wraparound kind) to stop pollen getting into your eyes.
- Overall hygiene. Wash hands and face regularly to get rid of dust/pollen and avoid touching your face as much as possible. You can use a travel hand wash if you’re out and about.
- Shower/change clothes after you have been outside and avoid changing in the bedroom so that pollen has less of an opportunity to settle in bedding, pillows and carpet.
- Check the pollen count on your phone (weather app) or Met Office and try to stay indoors when this is high.
- Keep windows and doors shut as much as possible.
- If travelling by car, close all windows and turn on the aircon to filter out pollen grains.
- Vacuum regularly and clean house with a damp cloth.
- Use Dettol Anti-Bacterial Surface Cleanser – this spray is endorsed by Allergy UK as the only household cleaner to remove 90 per cent of allergens associated with pollen from hard surfaces.
- Fit high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters into air vents in the house and car. Air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters can purify the air and trap pollen, dust, smoke and pet hair too.
- Avoid cutting grass/raking leaves or walking in grassy woodland areas especially during the early evening. If you have to, then wear a filtration face mask.
- Do not keep flowers indoors, and if you can, remove houseplants as well, as even the soil can be a source of mould which can trigger allergic reactions. I suggest embracing artificial flowers!
- Avoid smoke or smokers as this will aggravate your symptoms.
- Other irritants such as cleaning products, perfumes, air fresheners may worsen your symptom too, identify these and avoid as much as possible.
- Wash bed linen in hot water (above 50C degrees) to kill dust mite and remove pollen. If possible, once a week.
- Avoid drying clothes outdoor as pollen will get trapped in between the layers.
- Pets. If you have pets, although its not ideal to keep them indoors all the time, if you do let them out, remember to give them a thorough wipe/brush before letting them back into the house.
- Escape to the seaside because sea breeze blows pollen inland!
- Dress in natural fabrics as synthetic fabric build up static electricity which attracts dust and pollen.
- If possible, avoid having carpets at home.
- Soft toys/furnishing easily gather dust and pollen, therefore try to minimise these in the home or give them a good clean regularly.
- Mould and spores in the house can trigger an allergic reaction, therefore cleanse and remove thoroughly in damp areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and cupboards using a 50/50 mix of warm water and white vinegar.
- Do not sleep with the aircon or fan on as this dries up the mucus membrane in your nasal passage.
- Sleep on an incline. When you lie down in bed, your body is no longer able to drain mucus out of your nose through your throat, because gravity isn’t working in the right direction anymore. Consider sleeping on a bed wedge.
- Swimming. Avoid indoor swimming pools as the chlorine can irritate your respiratory tract and make your symptoms worse. If you decide to swim, remember to wear goggles and shower straight afterwards.
- Nasal cleansing
- Gargle with warm salty water to soothe a scratchy/sore throat.
- Take a tablespoon of local honey (or honey with lemon and water) daily a couple of months before the pollen season starts. This is because the honey will contain pollen which may desensitise you against your allergen.
- Studies have shown that Butterbur is most effective for relieving sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion and headaches. This can be found in chemists and health food stores.
- Drink Tea
- Ginger Tea can help break up congestion and acts as a natural anti-histamine.
- Peppermint Tea relieves sinus congestion.
- Nettle Tea helps relieve nasal tract inflammation. It is rich in vitamin K, quercetin and carotene.
- Liquorice Tea can help reduce irritation in the respiratory tract.
- Chamomile Tea is believed to relieve hay fever symptoms. BUT if you’re allergic to ragweed, then stay clear of this as it can trigger a reaction.
- Drink diluted Apple Cider Vinegar.
- Eat food high in quercetin, such as garlic, spinach, kale, peppers, watercress etc.
- Eat anti-inflammatory food
- Garlic and Onions contains high levels of quercetin and is a natural anti-histamine. Add raw garlic and onions to your salad! An active ingredient in garlic (allyl thiosulfinate) appears to have a temporary decongestant effect as well.
- Turmuric contains curcumin which has been found to have anti-allergy properties, which inhibit the release of histamine.
- Pineapple is a rich source of bromelain, an enzyme with strong systemic anti-inflammatory effects, which helps decrease mucosal inflammation and nasal congestion.
- Capsaicin, which is found in chillies, can also work to open your nasal passages.
- The skin of red grapes contain resveratrol which reduces inflammation in the body
- Rosemary contains powerful anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant compounds. Use rosemary essential oil in aromatherapy and also add it to your cooking or make it as a tea.
- Elderflower is a drying herb so it helps reduce the build-up of mucus. It also reduces inflammation in the lungs, which leads to improved breathing.
- Marshmallow root soothes inflamed and irritated airways and throats.
- Reishi mushrooms contain steroid like anti-inflammatory compounds that inhibit inflammation and histamine.
- Apparently shining a red light up your nose can “increase blood circulation, reduce histamine production and calm inflammation”! Try the Kinetik Medical Allergy Reliever.
- Inhale steam. Don’t go putting your head over boiling water by the stove, you wouldn’t want to burn yourself. Use steam inhalers or a bowl of hot water (let it cool for a few minutes first). Then add a few drops of menthol/eucalyptus oil and cover your head with a towel over the bowl and breathe in and out.
- Acupressure. Using your fingers:
- Gently massage both sides of the nose (from below the eyes to nostril). Massage can increase blood circulation, reduce nasal congestion and reduce facial swelling.
- Gently apply pressure to the indentation of the inner eye socket (between the bridge of the nose and the ridge of the eyebrows) can relieve sinus pain, headaches, blurry vision, red and watery eyes, hay fever, and eyestrain.
- Gently apply pressure the back of the neck about 1.5 inches from the base of the skull and 1.5 inches away from the spine to relieve head congestion, hay fever, stress, burnout, stiff necks, swollen eyes, and sore throats.
- Pinching the webbing between the thumb and index finger can relieve headaches, sinus pain, and hay fever, as well as head congestion. Please note: if you are pregnant, it is not advised to do this as it can cause premature contractions in the uterus.
- Gently apply pressure between the upper lip and nostril to provide relief to hay fever, sneezing, fainting, and dizziness.
- Remember to drink plenty of water after any massage.
- Saltpipe therapy (salt caves, salt rooms) helps to cleanse the respiratory system and flushes out impurities and irritants.
- Acupuncture – A 2004 study in Germany showed that 85 per cent of patients on acupuncture and herbal medicine showed an improvement compared to those in a placebo group.
- Ioniser release negative ions to counter balance the positive ions in the atmosphere. Positive ions are associated with increased histamine release worsening the symptoms of allergies of all kinds.
- Although you may not normally be allergic to certain food, there are some that may heighten your reaction.
- Birch pollen: apple, almond, carrot, celery, cherry, hazelnut, kiwi, peach, pear, plum
- Grass pollen: celery, melons, oranges, peaches, tomato
- Ragweed pollen: banana, cucumber, melons, sunflower seeds, zucchini
- A humidifier will help keep nasal passages from feeling dried out and painful. Adding eucalyptus, rosemary or lavender to the water will help to open the nasal passages and make breathing easier, especially helpful whilst sleeping.
- Put cold cucumber slices over your eyes. The cooling effect will calm swollen eyes.
- Apply a cool damp cloth or dap an ice pack onto red and itchy eyes for a temporary relief.
- Tea bags! Don’t waste those tea bags! After brewing a cuppa, chill for a minute before placing on eyes for 5 minutes. The natural tannins will reduce puffy eyes.
- Self hypnosis or hypnotherapy. Breathing techniques can help relief the symptoms of hay fever.
- Seek alternative help such as chinese medicine or herbal supplements.
Please note: Natural remedies may take weeks if not months for it to have any effect.
Diet and Lifestyle
- Avoid or limit dairy, wheat* and any food that increases mucus production.
- Personally, I have seen an improvement in mine and #JasperBean’s hay fever once we excluded dairy from our diet, but this may not work for everyone. We have replaced cows milk with other alternatives and after a few days, we’ve noticed a difference. Of course, this will affect individuals differently and I suggest you consult a dietician if you plan to prolonged the exclusion of dairy or any food groups from your diet.
- Avoid caffeine as they trigger histamine release. Drink green or white tea instead.
- Ditch refined sugar as a sugar spike in your blood causes an adrenaline surge that triggers histamine release.
- Eat food high in beta carotene to support the respiratory system.
- Top up your Vitamin C. This will support your nasal lining and reduce the amount of histamine in your blood. Love fruit? Have kiwi! Gram for gram, they contain more Vitamin C than the orange. Or you can try making my Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Gummy Bears and add Vitamin C powder as a booster!
- Vitamin D. I know we don’t get alot of sunshine, but you can find this in oily fish, eggs and fortified cereals as well.
- No alcohol. Some alcohol contains histamine and can trigger it’s production in our bodies too. Toxins are removed by our liver, therefore if our liver is not healthy, then it can not perform this process efficiently.
- Gin. I know, number 7 says no alcohol, but it turns out that gin contains no histamine, so although this doesn’t relieve symptoms of hay fever, it may make you feel better that you can still have a G&T.
- A diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids may reduce the symptoms of hay fever as they are naturally anti-inflammatory.
- Boost immune system with probiotics and live culture food.
- Eat coconute oil. This is great for your gut health, improves digestion and increases the growth of good bacteria.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration = increased histamine! Plus drinking water thins mucus and drains the nasal passage.
- Exercise: A 2010 University of Worcester study “found that hay fever sufferers who did the most exercise (more than five 30-minute sessions a week) were the most likely to report mild symptoms.”
- Meditate. According to the “National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit”, stress can make hay fever symptoms worse and effects felt longer.
- Sleep more. Try and get at least 7 hours sleep each night, I know this is hard when you have a bunged up nose, but research has shown that sufferers who got enough kip had milder symptoms.
Medication and professional help:
- It is recommended that you take anti-histamines 2 weeks before the pollen season starts for maximum effect
- Oral steroids may be effective, but they are not for long term use.
- It is less effective if you are only taking medication on worse days.
- Eye drops
- Nasal sprays
- According to my GP, decongestant nasal sprays should not be used regularly because after a few days, they can make the symptoms worse.
- Your GP may prescribe you with stronger medications such as steroids if over the counter anti-histamines don’t work for you.
- Immunotherapy – this is when you are given small doses of pollen through injection or tablets to build up your immunity. This treatment usually starts 3 months before the hay fever season.
- Seek medical help if your symptoms are getting worse or you believe it might be something that requires attention such as asthma, sinusitis, ear infection etc.
- Seek advice from your GP or dietician if you plan to drastically alter your diet especially if you are pregnant or nursing.
- Your GP/Pharmacist would be able to provide you with up to date information on the medication that is most suitable for you.
- All information is from my own past experience, suggestions from family and friends and/or recommendations from the GP, dietician and pharmacists in the United Kingdom.
There is no 100% success rate in any health system. Therefore if one method doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t mean it won’t work for others or when tried at other times. How do you survive the hay fever season? What have you tried? Are there other methods that you use that I haven’t mentioned above? I would love to hear from you.
Until next time…
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