Summer is here and so is the pollen!
Did you know that hay fever symptoms affect 1 in 5 people across the UK?! If you’re a fellow sufferer, you know what I’m talking about. Severe hay fever can feel like a heavy head cold: watery eyes, a runny nose and a congested feeling in your head. Unlike a heavy cold though, it happens every year, can last for weeks or even months and you don’t get much sympathy for it.
Firstly, I need to deliver some bad news: there’s no cure for hay fever.
The good news, however, is that there IS a lot you can do to alleviate the symptoms without constantly resorting to medication. These easy tips will help stop hay fever in its tracks so that you can enjoy your garden this summer
Hang on, how do I know if I even have hay fever?
Hay fever is an allergy to pollen. There are three types of pollen that you might be allergic to: tree pollen, grass pollen and weed pollen.
They each affect people at different times of year.
Tree pollen: late March - mid May
Grass pollen: mid May - July
Weed pollen: late June - September
While pollen tends to spend most of its time outside, it can be hard to keep it out of your home. Your clothes, hair and pets can all be pollen-carrying culprits!
According to the NHS website, common hay fever symptoms include:
sneezing and coughing
a runny or blocked nose
itchy, red or watery eyes
itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
loss of smell
pain around your temples and forehead
Quick tips to help prevent hay fever
Smear a thin layer of Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen before you breathe it in.
Wear over-sized or wraparound sunglasses to help prevent pollen getting in your eyes.
Change and wash your clothes everyday after wearing, particularly if you’ve been outside.
Consider drying clothes inside rather than out on the line – it’s frustrating, yes, but the last thing you want to do is put on clothes that are already covered in pollen!
If you don’t have the space to dry clothes indoors, hang them out during the middle of the day when the pollen count is at its lowest and the sun at its warmest.
Give your jacket a shake - outside – when you get home.
Don’t keep freshly cut flowers in the house - sorry, no romantic bouquets for you! They’ll only cause you irritation.
Shower at the end of the day rather than at the start – wash any pollen off your body and particularly your hair!
Keep windows and doors shut where possible. Or if you can’t, consider hanging net curtains or sheer voile panels to help keep pollen out.
Invest in a pollen filter for air vents around your house.
Watch the weather forecast daily and try to avoid going out when the pollen count is particularly high.
Vacuum your home regularly, particularly any pet beds and anywhere your dogs or cats have been.
After your walk, brush your dog down to try and remove pollen from their coats before letting them back into the house.
Stay away from cut grass as much as possible. A good excuse to head out while your partner mows the lawn!
Stay in the countryside – you’d think that hay fever would be worse in the countryside, but research shows that the increased air pollution in cities also aggravates hay fever symptoms.
Alternatively, head to the beach where the fresh sea air blows pollen away before it can cause a problem.
Eat foods rich in beta carotene and Vitamin C to soothe your blocked nose and ease painful sinuses. Fill your plate with carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, apples, apricots and tomatoes.
Tuck in to capers, red onions, garlic, watercress, dark berries, and citrus fruits. They all contain high amounts of the natural antihistamine quercetin.
Ditch the Earl Grey and try a cup of chamomile or nettle tea to relieve your symptoms; both have antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties.
Sweeten your tea (or toast) with locally produced honey. It’s thought that eating locally-produced honey made by bees browsing from foliage that can be found all around you can ease the symptoms of hay fever. Try taking a small amount daily before hay fever season really kicks in.
Do you have your own failsafe tactics for dealing with hay fever symptoms? Do let us know in the comments below.