Spring is here, the sun is shining, lambs are frolicking, flowers are blooming, pub beer gardens start to reopen and people are happy to see the gloom of winter fading away. But for approximately 12 million people in the UK, the advent of spring signals the beginning of a torturous season filled with tissues and allergy medicine.
Hay fever affects one in five people in the UK with symptoms generally presenting themselves at the beginning of spring (March/April), for those with severe allergies symptoms can appear as early as February when certain trees start producing pollen and peaking during the summer months (June – August) when grass starts flowering. In order to get the most out of spring and summer it is a good to know how to identify the symptoms of hay fever so that you can take appropriate measures as soon as they appear, symptoms include some or all of the following:
- Watery/Itchy eyes
- Blocked sinuses
- Swelling and redness in the eyes and nose
- Runny nose
There are countless methods for relieving the symptoms of hay fever, from common medication to the downright weird (we’re looking at you Magnetic Water Wand). With so many remedies and products competing for your attention, it can be a difficult and confusing choice, that is why we decided to write an article exploring some of the options available to you.
Medication Against Spring Allergies
This prescription-only tablet stormed the market almost seven years ago and quickly established itself as a breakthrough in hay fever treatments. It is one of the few treatments which contain natural grass pollen allergens and is the only medical immunotherapy treatment you can administer at home without professional medical supervision.
The treatment was designed to be taken daily for three years to reduce hay fever symptoms by increasing the body’s natural tolerance of pollen.
When it comes to nasal sprays, there are a couple of options available depending on the severity of your symptoms.
The first option is over the counter nasal decongestant sprays. These relieve symptoms by expanding the blood vessels in your nose and opening the nasal passages. This allows for swelling to be reduced as well as for easier breathing. Ask your pharmacist for a nasal spray which contains antihistamines as this will help alleviate the other symptoms of hay fever.
The second option is only recommended in cases where your symptoms are severe or when other methods have failed. Your GP may prescribe a corticosteroid nasal spray, these contain steroids which reduce inflammation and can prevent the other symptoms developing.
Antihistamine eye drops
Eye drops containing antihistamines are one of the best options in cases where the symptoms affecting the eyes are more prevalent. They work by reducing the watery/itchy feeling in the eyes as well as reducing inflammation, due to the antihistamines other symptoms will also be alleviated.
The most popular of hay fever remedies, antihistamine tablets can be prescribed by a GP or purchased from a pharmacy and with so many brands available you will be spoiled for choice. These tablets work by counteracting the histamine released by your body when it thinks it is under attack by an allergen.
Traditionally, antihistamine tablets are known for causing periods of drowsiness due to the inclusion of compounds such as chlorphenamine. Due to advancements in medical science, these side effects have been greatly reduced, however, some people may still be affected. If you do experience drowsiness brought on by antihistamine tablets stop taking them immediately and consult your GP for alternative treatments.
Fight Spring Allergy Symptoms With Natural Remedies
One of the best ways to strengthen your defences against the dreaded yellow poison (pollen) is to spring clean your home. Throughout the winter months, your home has been accumulating dust, dirt and other allergens. So you are not doing yourself any favours by putting off that deep clean every week as the pollen entering your home may lead to a cross-reaction with the other allergens already present. Check out our article How To Clean the Top 15 Neglected Areas in Your House as well as our other fantastic spring cleaning articles for tips and advice on cleaning those forgotten corners of your home.
Research published by the National Centre for Biotechnology shows a link between maintaining a healthy gut full of beneficial bacteria and a reduction in allergic reactions. Consider adding a probiotic drink or yoghurt to your diet to help build a strong immune system supported by an equally strong digestive system.
There are many supplements which possess anti-inflammatory and immune system boosting properties which, when taken regularly, can help to alleviate symptoms of hay fever or even prevent them in the first place.
The most effective supplements to consider taking are:
- Nettle tablets or herbal nettle tea – Mostly known for their unpleasant sting, nettles are a natural antihistamine and are effective at combatting the symptoms of hay fever.
- Vitamin C with bioflavonoids – Vitamin C has long been promoted as being essential to boosting and maintaining a robust immune system, but it also helps to alleviate symptoms of an allergic reaction by preventing histamine being formed. To further increase the efficacy of Vitamin C take it with bioflavonoids (natural pigments in fruits and vegetables), this will help to stabilise the cells responsible for creating and releasing histamine.
- Unprocessed local honey – Humans have known about the wondrous effects of honey for over 10,000 years and it still holds first place in natural remedies for various ailments. As it is made from pollen, it should come as no surprise that many hay fever sufferers reach for a jar of honey before considering the alternatives listed above. Look for unprocessed local honey (not the type which comes in a squeezy bottle), the more local, the better. The reasoning behind this is that honey produced locally will be made from the types of pollen which trigger your symptoms and by eating this your body will gradually develop a natural tolerance. Try eating a teaspoon of unprocessed local honey every morning and you may be surprised to find that your hay fever symptoms are not as pronounced.
Food is literally the fuel which powers every fibre of our being, so it is not surprising to find out that adding certain foods to our diet can greatly improve our health and well-being. Adding the following to your diet will not only improve your health it may also help alleviate hay fever symptoms.
- Whole grains, leafy vegetables, and egg yolks – Rich in Vitamin E, preliminary results from small-scale experiments have shown a slight reduction in allergic responses.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – Several studies have shown that dietary Omega-3 fatty acids improve the symptoms of asthma as well as allergic reactions such as hay fever, especially in childhood. Complement your diet with cod, herring, mackerel, sardines, salmon, flax seeds, chia seeds, nuts, oats, and green vegetables to help alleviate symptoms of hay fever.
- Pineapple and papaya – Both fruits contain anti-inflammatory enzymes which can help reduce swelling in the eyes and nasal passages.
Do you suffer from hay fever? Do you have other methods of combatting allergies? Let us and our readers know by commenting below or give us a shout on social media!
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