The charity, Allergy UK, estimates that nearly 18 million people have hay fever in the UK. Hay fever can strike at any age, although it usually begins in childhood or during teenage years. If you have a family history of allergies, particularly asthma or eczema you are more likely to develop hay fever. It’s more common in boys than girls, but adult men and women are equally affected.
Typical symptoms usually include sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and a stuffy nose. Alison Cullen, A.Vogel’s nutritional therapist discusses the factors you can tackle to reduce the turmoil in your nasal passages and free yourself from the tyranny of tissues, constant sneezing and itchy, watery eyes.
Don’t wait until it’s too late
Prepare your body for spring by supporting your immune system with the herb Echinacea. “Supporting our immune system during winter is a priority for winter wellness but it is also a good idea to support your body just before the hay fever season starts,” says Alison. “Although it can be difficult to estimate when your hay fever will strike due to the changeable weather we experience, it can be really helpful to take a supplement of Echinacea for a month or two before the season kicks in. This will help balance your immune function and help prevent your body reacting at the first sign of pollen.”
Most people own either a mobile phone or tablet these days; check out the geeky stuff that can help you predict periods of high pollen via web forecasts or downloadable apps.
Keep working out
If you’re desperate to avoid pollen, it’s all too easy to give up on exercise and stay indoors during the hay fever season. However, a study conducted by Professor Jean Emberlin, director of Pollen UK, regular exercise can actually help improve your symptoms. The study found that those who are most physically active tend to have milder symptoms than those who did little or no exercise, and recommended that hay fever sufferers should try to incorporate 5 x 30-minute sessions of exercise each week. That’s all very well, we hear you say, but if your allergy is wreaking havoc with your workout, here’s how to get a handle on hay fever.
- Take caution when pollen is high; Pollen is usually at its highest first thing in the morning and early evening – try exercising during lunchtime instead when levels are lower.
- Plan your route; if out running or walking; avoid wooded areas such as parks and gardens.
- Exercise indoors; if pollen levels are high it’s a good idea to stick to indoor exercise at the local gym, swimming pool or indoor tennis courts.
- Wear sunglasses; especially wraparounds for outdoor exercise to help reduce the amount of pollen getting into your eyes.
- Put your barrier up; before working out, especially if it’s outdoors spread a barrier balm such as Vaseline around the edge of each nostril to trap or block pollen. Reapply each time you blow your nose.
Get a handle on hay fever – Herbal helpers
Medical herbalist, Dee Atkinson says: “When a patient presents in clinic with a history of allergic rhinitis, and hay fever like symptoms or upper airways irritation and catarrh, I always take a multi-faceted approach; some dietary advice, often to cut out dairy products, combined with a focused herbal remedy.
My go to herbal approach is the A.Vogel Luffa Complex which combines, small doses of herbs including Luffa operculate. Often, I recommend Euphrasia (eyebright) eye drops and a Luffa nasal spray to be used at the same time. My top tip is to start treatment a good three weeks before your hayfever usually starts.”
Eat your way to a sniff-free summer
Emma Ross, A.Vogel Nutritionist says: “Some foods cause more inflammation than others. Minimising their consumption and prioritising anti-inflammatory foods instead will make every meal a mini treatment. Reduce caffeine intake to lighten the load on your adrenal glands, thereby reducing your histamine production. Swap caffeinated tea or coffee for green tea which is anti-inflammatory, and nettle tea which counters histamine.
“Replace mucous-inducing dairy snacks and milky drinks with dairy-free alternatives. Sugary foods can trigger inflammatory adrenalin, and partly due to its demands on the pancreas, may cause excess mucus formation. Choose dried fruit over refined sugary snacks. Fresh fruit will give you an additional boost of vitamin C, a natural antihistamine which stabilises your adrenal glands, making them more stress-resistant.
Avoid foods low in inflammatory arachidonic acid found in organ meats, fatty red meat and eggs. Instead opt for carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash, or blueberries, plums and raisins. Many of these foods are also good sources of bioflavonoids which help stabilise the tiny capillaries within the respiratory tissue, strengthening us against the symptoms of hay fever.
If you found Get a handle on hay fever – expert advice to see you through spring helpful, you’ll find more tips for managing hay fever symptoms on our Health channel.Last modified: April 21, 2022