Tips on How to Handle Hayfever
It's that time of year again! Yes we welcome the brighter days and warmer weather, along with the opportunity to get outside more, but for many it does also mean the unwelcome return of Hayfever and the difficult symptoms that come with it.
What is Hayfever?
Hayfever is also known as Allergic Rhinitis. It is a condition caused by the body’s immune system reacting to pollen and causing cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy/red or watery eyes, congestion, sneezing or coughing and sinus pressure. The body recognises the pollen, what is actually harmless, as a threat and produces an antibody called Immunoglobulin to fight it off. The production of the Immunoglobulin (IgE) is what actually causes the symptoms of hay fever triggering inflammatory responses. Hay fever usually starts during childhood and can run in families, but people can begin to suffer with symptoms for the first time later in their life. Unfortunately there is no known cure for it. Some people get symptoms that are mild whilst others suffer with more severe symptoms.
Hay fever is usually worst between late March and September, when increasingly exposed to the allergens. Grass and tree pollen count is at its highest, during the warm, humid and windy weather conditions. At this time of year when we all want to enjoy outdoor space as much as possible - for many people it can be prove difficult to live with, owing to the uncomfortable symptoms that hay fever can cause. So here are some of our helpful tips that may help to manage and better live with this common condition:
Using over the counter and prescription medicines - antihistamines are the most common form of treatment. Tablets, nasal sprays and eye drops all come in handy. It is good to start with these early on in the season to control symptoms but they will help at any time, but they do need to be used continuously to help.
Some people like to try natural and herbal alternatives that are said to help with hay fever:
- Garlic – A well-known immune booster and natural anti-inflammatory. Many herbalists recommend garlic to be a natural allergy remedy because of the antioxidant it contains – Quercetin. This has the capacity to impede the release of histamines (Histamines are compounds produced as part of a local immune response to cause inflammation in response to allergens). Garlic also contains allicin which helps thin mucus blocking nasal passages easing sinus congestion.
- Turmeric – Containing the powerful antioxidant curcumin known for its anti-inflammatory actions. It has been found to contain anti-allergic and natural decongestant properties, and may lessen the symptoms and irritation caused by allergic rhinitis. One study for example showed treating mice with turmeric reduced their allergic response.
- Fish oils – Omega 3 is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. One study found that the more (EPA) fatty acid people had in their bloodstream, the less their risk of allergic sensitivity or hay fever.
Check the pollen forecasts daily so you can stay indoors whenever possible on days if the pollen count is high (this is generally when it is warmer and drier days). Keeping car windows closed whilst driving, particularly on these days will also be helpful.
Consider your indoor space - Keeping windows and doors closed as much as you can, particularly on days where the pollen count is high will help to keep the pollen outside. Also cleaning the house regularly – wet dusting surfaces, and vacuuming will lessen the exposure to allergens. Avoid bringing fresh flowers indoors.
Pets can be a carrier of pollen on their fur which can worsen symptoms for sufferers. Try regularly grooming them with a brush or washing them after walks or time outside. This can help to remove pollen from their fur.
Wash hair and clothes regularly to remove pollen particles - If you can avoid drying your clothes outdoors when the pollen count is high. Tying up hair and/or wearing a hat/cap when spending time outdoors will help to prevent airborne pollen particles getting caught in your hair to help lessen your exposure. Wear sunglasses to help prevent them coming into contact with your eyes.
We hope these tips are helpful for many. More severe sufferers should visit a pharmacist or their GP for further help.
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