It’s about that time of year when, if you are a hay fever sufferer, you start to suffer. It’s an allergic condition also called allergic rhinitis, that is often seasonal, allergy to tree pollen is usually worst in Spring, allergy to grass and weed pollen is worst in the Summer and allergy to moulds occurs mostly in Autumn.
Pollen is a fine powder released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle. It contains proteins that can cause the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses to become swollen, irritated and inflamed. It is also common to feel lethargic.
Allergic reaction are more frequent and severe if you are over tired, under stress, recovering from infection or your immune system is compromised. There’s currently no cure for hay fever, but most people are able to relieve symptoms with treatment.
The most effective way to control hay fever would be to avoid exposure to pollen. However, it’s very difficult to avoid pollen, particularly during the summer months when you want to spend more time outdoors.
By taking some basic precautions it is sometimes possible to prevent the symptoms.
- Try wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting in your eyes when you’re outdoors.
- Take a shower and change your clothes after being outdoors to remove the pollen on your body.
- Stay indoors when the pollen count is high, if you exercise outside, chat to your personal trainer and ask for some workouts that can be done inside whilst the pollen count is high.
- Even by applying a small amount of Vaseline (petroleum gel) to the nasal openings to trap pollen grains can help.
- A nasal wash to remove pollens and allergens.
- Keep windows closed when indoors, it is most important in the early mornings when pollen is being released, and in the evening when the air cools and pollens that have been carried up into the air begin to fall to ground level again
- Treatment options for hay fever include antihistamines, which can help to prevent an allergic reaction from occurring and corticosteroids (steroids), which help to reduce inflammation and swelling.
For severe and persistent hay fever, there’s also a type of treatment called immunotherapy. It involves being exposed to small amounts of pollen over time, to build resistance to its allergic effects. However, this can take many months or even years to work.
A survey showed a clear link between stress and the severity of hay fever symptoms. Almost seven out of ten stressed-out hay fever sufferers rate their symptoms as unbearable or debilitating. As stress levels drop, symptoms become milder.
Another survey found that people with hay fever who exercise most have the mildest symptoms and the exercise will also help reduce your stress levels.
A healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables could also be beneficial but be aware than some healthy foods can make hay fever symptoms worse. Foods that can worsen hay fever symptoms for some people include apples, tomatoes, stoned fruits, melons, bananas and celery.
Eat foods rich in omega 3 and 6 essential fats which can be found in oily fish, nuts, seeds, and their oils. These contain anti-inflammatory properties, and may help reduce symptoms of hay fever.
Alcohol worsens hay fever as beer wine and spirits contain histamine, the chemical that sets off allergy symptoms in your body. As well as making you more sensitive to pollen, alcohol also dehydrates you, making your symptoms seem worse.
It was shown In a survey that people with hay fever who get a good night’s sleep tend to have the mildest symptoms. Just one in eight (13%) people who had at least seven hours sleep a night reported severe symptoms, compared with one in five (21%) who regularly had five hours sleep or less a night.