As summer rolls in, it’s prime season for a – – a – – achoo…! I mean: hayfever season! I’ve suffered from hayfever for the past few years which became progressively worse until my early teens, when it slowly began to settle down. That being said, I still sneeze several times throughout the day and get incredibly watery eyes when exposed to high levels of pollen. This is especially common during changes of season, as well as throughout the summer months. In this blog post I want to share some tips I’ve learnt on how to reduce symptoms of hay fever, plus, how to cope when it feels like all hope is lost!
In my most recent trip to Boots, I picked up the latest issue of their ‘Health & Beauty’ magazine, reading it all pretty much within half an hour, yes I’m a fast reader who skims through many pages! On page 91 I got to ‘The Hayfever Clinic’, which claimed that its ‘..experts help readers put a stop to their sneezing and wheezing this summer.’ Intrigued, I scanned through, eager to pick up helpful tips on how to combat the hayfever blues this year. It has given me some helpful hints, some of which I include in this post. I always find handy tips and tricks in this really great bi-monthly magazine, which is free if you have a Boots Advantage card (who doesn’t have one of those!) In addition, whilst researching this ‘hot topic’ on the internet, I discovered an interesting slideshow on which ‘Plants and trees that make us sneeze’. Again, this is produced by Boots so I thought it would be helpful to include the link.
First, I’d like to briefly explain exactly what hayfever is. The definition is ‘an allergy caused by pollen or dust in which the mucous membranes of the eyes and nose are inflamed, causing running at the nose and watery eyes.’ So, hayfever is an allergy. Whilst its symptoms are similar to that of a cold, it is different as it is not caused by a virus. It is when the immune system reacts badly to pollen (usually found in the yellow centre of a flower, or the anther – but don’t quote me on my biology!) and other airborne substances that derive from fungi or plants. It’s not particularly pleasant, and whilst some people have only mild symptoms, others are more potently effected. If your hayfever is a growing issue, I would advise you to seek professional medical advice from a pharmacist or your GP.
Foods to be consuming and avoiding:
1. General healthy eating
Of course this will help on so many levels! There are many tips on my blog as to how to eat a healthy balanced diet, but try to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, the more varied the colour the better. Try adding one portion to every meal and eating fruit or chopped veg as a snack. Also drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help to flush your body of nasties.
2. Consuming honey
I know it sounds like completely the wrong thing to do, but eating local honey in the weeks leading up to ‘high season’ can help your immune system adjust to the pollen where you live. A great way to include this is a dollop on top of your breakfast every morning …yum!
3. Decreasing your dairy intake
If you’re struggling with an overload of mucus (as disgusting as it sounds, it’s a very common symptom!) then cutting out dairy will help combat that runny nose. Elements in dairy products – cow’s milk in particular – are very mucus and phlegm provoking. A lactose-free alternative I enjoy is unsweetened almond milk, which takes a little getting used to (so persevere!) but is really healthy and delicious alternative!
4. Staying away from grains
As hayfever can be triggered by pollen found in grass, staying away from foods that contain wheat and grains may help to reduce some symptoms of hayfever. Gluten free alternatives include spelt, brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat. Don’t worry, you can still enjoy baked goods, I have lots of gluten-free recipes up on my blog, link here. (This helped me, although it may be seen as taking it to the extreme! Give it a go; it might work for you.)
Other top tips:
1. Always remember medication
Forgetting to take my hayfever medication on a morning when I know I’m going to be outside a lot during hayfever season is devastating! Without it I sometimes struggle to get through the day!
2. Wear sunglasses
If like me, you suffer from irritated eyes, wearing sunglasses can really help. Wrap-around ones are ideal, so look out for them next time you’re at the shops.
3. Tissues aplenty!
Bringing a pack of tissues with you everywhere is essential when you’re nose is running. Always throw them away as soon as they’re used, as this will stop them from going all dusty and making your spluttering even worse.
HayMax balm (other balms are available but this one works for me) is a handy little pot of sticky balm which I repeatedly apply to the base of my nasal passages throughout the day and before bedtime. This vaseline-like balm works by literally trapping any pollen in the air which you would otherwise breathe in.
5. Don’t touch eyes, nose or mouth
Pollen is spread throughout the air, which means it hangs onto you. If you then touch your nose, eyes or mouth, you’re letting the pollen enter those areas, thus, worsening your symptoms.
6. Wash clothes and hair regularly
Following on from my previous point, regularly washing your clothes, hair, towels, bedding etc. is the best method of ridding the pollen caught there. Clean = pollen free!
7. Keep windows shut
As hard as it may be in the height of summer, shutting windows can keep the pollen outside and away from your space.
8. Eye wash
I discovered this last year, after struggling with streaming, irritated eyes. I’d tried many different eye drops previously, and finding this was like Christmas morning! All you do is pour a small amount of eye wash solution into the little cup provided, fix it on your eye are keep it open whilst you swash your head around. Whilst it takes a little practise, this gets into every part of your eye and works wonders!
8. Mints and gum
According to the Boots article, ‘Sucking a sugar-free mint or chewing gum can help to disperse histamine in the mouth and stop the raspiness’ (particularly suffered by asthmatic people). I’ve tried this and, although I don’t have asthma, it actually works!
I hope some of these tips and tricks help any other hayfever sufferers out there who are struggling at this time of year. Please follow my blog and if you could support my social medias @lydsberrypie I would be absolutely delighted!