Hay fever helpPosted on: 09 May 2011 by Rhian Mainwaring
If pollen is your worst enemy, then catch up on the latest hay fever remedies
I’m afraid we can’t announce the cure of hay fever, but we can help you control your symptoms and find out more about reducing the affect your allergies have on your life.
NHS choices have given us their top five tips for reducing hay fever symptoms, advice on keeping your home pollen free and what medication you can take. By combining these three areas you should be able to greatly reduce the hold hay fever has over you, with a combination of natural, lifestyle and medical choices.
It’s easier said than done, but a survey of 2000 sufferers revealed that symptoms worsened with stress. Unfortunately those with debilitating cases become stressed because of the symptoms and because your stressed the symptoms get worse, so it’s a real mind over matter scenario. So whether you’re stressed because of work or home life or simply down to your symptoms take some time out, reducing our stress levels are the first step.
You’ll find that exercise is great for busting stress, so this might be the best place to start. The NHS survey found that those with symptoms of hay fever suffered less the fitter or more active they were. Try to incorporate 30 minutes of exercise five times a week and you should see a marked difference in your symptoms. Obviously exercising outdoors isn’t ideal when the pollen count is high which is generally first thing in the morning or early evening, so try to exercise late morning or early afternoon, or choose an indoor activity like swimming, which is also a great low impact stress reliever.
The survey also showed that those with a healthy, balanced diet were less likely to get severe symptoms. Make sure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables but steer clear of apples, tomatoes, stoned fruits, melons, bananas and celery as they can actually make your symptoms worse.
Cut down on alcohol
Alcohol will dehydrate you which can make symptoms appear a lot worse and can also make you more sensitive to pollen – so do so in moderation!
The survey showed that those who got a good nights sleep tended to have the mildest symptoms. Only one in eight people who had at least seven hours sleep a night reported severe symptoms compared with one in five who regularly had five hours sleep or less.
OK, when you’re in the midst of really bad attack of hay fever it’s hard to sleep, the last thing you feel like doing is exercising and you get stressed out because the symptoms won’t go away. So what can we do to cut down the source of the problem? Well Lindsey McManus of Allergy UK has some great tips on avoiding the cause of your hay fever.
Don’t mow your lawn
It doesn’t matter if its starting to look a bit shabby, mowing your lawn is like Superman running into a field of kryptonite. If you’re allergic to grass pollen, which most hay fever sufferers are, stay away from it.
Create a barrier
Smear Vaseline inside your nostrils, this will act as a barrier filtering the pollen out of the air your breathing in.
Time it right
Don’t sit outside between 4pm and 7pm or in the early morning as the pollen count is at it’s highest.
Shut the windows
Don’t sleep or drive with the windows open as this will fill your room or car with pollen. If you hate sleeping with the windows closed then you can buy window filters for your house that trap the pollen. There’s a selection of pollen screen kits on this site which you can fit and remove yourself.
Dust, dust and dust again!
Dust your home with a damp duster, which will pick up the pollen rather than spreading it around – during the pollen season repeat as often as possible to reduce your symptoms.
Pollen can get stuck in your hair, in your clothes and on your skin, so have a shower when you get in at the end of the day. This will guarantee a much better night’s sleep.
Pollen will get stomped into your carpets throughout the house and can happily live there for around three months, vacuuming frequently will help remove the pesky particles.
Wash your clothes on a high temperature (over 55 degrees) once they’ve been out of the house and don’t dry them outside. Pollen sticks to bedding too, so protective sheets on your mattress and pillows will relieve the symptoms at night.
Histamine is a chemical released by your body after it's been exposed to a trigger such as pollen. It then produces symptoms of hay fever such as sneezing or itchy, watery eyes. Antihistamines block the action of histamine in the body.
As well as tablets, antihistamines are available as nasal sprays, eye drops or liquids to be swallowed. Most are available as over-the-counter drugs.
Steroid nasal sprays
Steroid nasal sprays are more effective than antihistamines at treating some symptoms of hay fever, such as a blocked nose.
They are a local treatment (applied in the nose) and hardly any of the steroid is absorbed by the body. There are almost no side effects with a normal dose. You can use steroid nasal sprays for long periods of time without any risk.
They take several days to act and need be taken continually for several weeks as their effect builds up with time.
Cromoglycates are not antihistamines. They are mainly available as eye drops, but you can also get them as nasal sprays. If antihistamines aren’t working on their own, you can use cromoglycates as well. This medication has few side effects and works on specific areas such as the nose or eyes.
Immunotherapy or desensitisation treatment may work if symptoms are severe and are not controlled by other methods. If you want these injections, you need to go to a specialist allergy clinic after referral from your GP.
Initially you have to have an injection every week or fortnight at the clinic and then regularly for up to two years.
This method involves pollen being injected into the body, so you may have an allergic response. There have been a few cases of severe reactions to desensitisation injections. They should only be given in specialist centres and only to people whose symptoms cannot be controlled by other methods.
Symptoms like headaches and sore throats can also be a symptom of hayfever. So invest in a good throat spray to carry around with you and invest in some headache tablets. Always read the packaging if you’re taking more than one kind of medicine, and check with your pharmacist before you take anything.
Although there is little evidence-based research in this area, some people believe these therapies reduce their symptoms.
Echinacea, usually used to treat colds, is said to reduce a person's sensitivity to allergens.
Euphrasia (or Eyebright) can be used for symptoms of hay fever such as watery or itchy eyes. Eyebright comes as eye drops and some people claim it alleviates their symptoms.
We hope these tips help with your fight against hay fever, if your symptoms worsen or you are part of a vulnerable group (i.e asthmatic) you should contact your GP if you have any concerns about your health.
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