Blog Hayfever - a.k.a. the grinch that stole summer
Hayfever affects around one in four people in the UK. The symptoms vary dramatically from one to another and from year to year in the same individual, but when bad can really make life a misery. It is especially cruel that symptoms are generally at their worse at a time when everyone else is enjoying more outdoor living in the sunshine. Symptoms can include frequent sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, itchy, red watery eyes, a cough and a sore, scratchy throat and/or mouth. If you suffer particularly badly, you may also experience a loss of smell and taste, facial pain caused by sinusitis, headache, earache and fatigue. Hayfever can also exacerbate asthma.
There are some really helpful antihistamine medications on the market, most of which no longer cause drowsiness, although it may take a while for you to find the one that suits you best. However, before you self-diagnose and start taking over-the-counter medication you may want to take into account some recent research which established a link between long term antihistamine use and early onset Alzheimer’s. Have a discussion with either your GP or your local pharmacist first.
Here is a list of hints and tips of things to try to help reduce your hayfever symptoms without reaching for the medication…….
Avoid contact with pollen as much as possible.
Monitor the pollen forecast. If it is high, stay indoors as much as possible. If you go outside, wash your hair and change your clothes when you get home.
Use sticky balm around your nostrils to catch the pollen in the air before you breathe it in.
Use a saline nasal wash to remove pollen and congestion in the nostrils.
Move to the coast where the pollen levels are lowest.
Keep your windows at home closed, especially in the early morning when pollen is naturally released.
Wear a mask if you have to mow the lawn or rake up leaves.
Wear glasses as much as possible. The best glasses to keep out the pollen are those that wraparound your whole face.
Wear a hat with a peak or a large brim to keep as much pollen off of your face as possible.
Avoid drying your clothes on the washing line when the pollen count is high.
Keep your car windows closed when driving on a dual carriageway or motorway with a grass verge.
Wear hypoallergenic makeup, especially mascara.
Don’t let your pets get too close to your face as their fur will trap and carry pollen.
Wear goggles when swimming, both in a pool and in the sea.
Vacuum your house regularly. You can also buy a special vacuum cleaner with a pollen filter.
Don’t have fresh flowers in the house.
Use a wet cloth to dust rather than moving the pollen around with a dry cloth.
Eat probiotic yoghurt to boost your immune system.
Eat local honey to desensitise yourself to the pollen.
Increase your vitamin C intake as it is a natural antihistamine.
Eat hot peppers / chillies to open the nasal passages and reduce congestion.
Drink Chamomile tea as it is an antioxidant and antihistamine. Once cooled, the tea bags can also be used as a compress on the eyes to reduce redness, itching and swelling.
Eat more garlic as it boosts the immune system.
Try acupuncture and / or hypnotherapy to help alleviate the symptoms.
Shine a red light up your nostrils which increases the blood flow, reduces histamine production and calm inflammation. Believe it or not Lloyds Pharmacy sell a nasal light probe for this!
And if you still need some help……
Use an antihistamine on a regular basis (rather than just when you have symptoms) as the drug has a cumulative effect.
Ask your GP to prescribe you a steroid nasal spray.
If your eyes demonstrate the majority of symptoms, use eye drops.
I hope some of these tips help prevent or alleviate your symptoms so that you can enjoy the summer rather than avoid it. Now all we need is for the sun to come back!
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