For some people, the onset of Spring and Summer brings the misery of a runny nose, skin rashes and itchy eyes. Hay fever is no laughing matter and with Allergy Awareness Week 2021 on the doorstep, learning how to manage hay fever with these hints and tips could help you feel more comfortable during the warmer months.
A common allergic reaction to pollen and other allergens in the environment, hay fever is thought to affect or have affected one in five people in their lifetime. The reaction can be mild or severe, and includes swollen eyes, difficulty breathing, excessive sneezing and more.
It can also be worse at certain times of the day or night. Some people report their hay fever symptoms become much more obvious in the evening, whilst other people say that the morning is the time that their symptoms are at their worst.
It depends on which allergen someone is sensitive to, along with other allergens in the environment. But one that everyone can agree on is that learning how to manage hay fever is key in minimising how much it affects everyday life.
What is hay fever?
It is an allergic reaction to pollen, a substance given off by plants as they grow in spring and summer, that causes the cells in the mouth, nose, eyes and throat to become irritated. The result is common hay fever symptoms – sneezing, swollen eyes and well as itchy eyes, a runny or blocked nose, and a feeling of being generally unwell.
As plants emerge from their winter hibernation into the warm spring sunshine, they give off powdery substances as they grow. This pollen is a way of attracting insects which, in turn, will carry the pollen to other plants, thus pollinating them and leading to more growth.
Different plants give off pollens at different times of the season. That’s why some people find March a difficult month whilst other people find the summer months are worse. It’s rare to find out exactly which pollen types you are allergic to and so managing your symptoms is key to living with this common, allergic reaction.
Managing hay fever – 10 things to try
1) Close the windows
Hay fever is caused by pollen and other allergens. Pollen is a powdery, microscopic powder that is given off by plants as they grow, hence spring and summer are key hay fever ‘seasons’. There are many different types of substances given off by different plants. They are carried and dispersed on the gentle summer breeze, as well as on us, our clothing for example, as well as on our pets. Keeping pollen out of your home can help alleviate some of your symptoms and so closing windows and doors at the height of pollen season may help.
2) Change your clothes
Pollen will settle on your clothes and so when you come home from a walk in the local park or from work, change out these pollen-contaminated clothes into fresh. It may also be worth considering wearing a cooling neck gaiter bandana or scarf (or a Bandarf!) while you’re out and about.
3) Invest in a vacuum with filters
HEPA filters in vacuums are one of the best ways in how to manage hay fever in the home. These filters can be both washed after use and, when they are past their working life, you replace with a fresh filter. Vacuum regularly and consider getting rid of carpet for hard flooring as this is much easier to keep allergen-free.
4) Dry clothes indoors
On lovely warm days with blazing sunshine, it is tempting to hang washing on the line. But for people with severe hay fever, drying clothes and bedding indoors could be a wise move, so that pollen and other allergens don’t infiltrate the fibres.
5) Wipe down hard surfaces
An allergen is a tiny microscopic fibre or powder which easily moves from place to place. And when it comes to tips on how to manage hay fever in the home and the workplace, there is little doubt that daily, or even more frequent, dusting and wiping of hard surfaces is key to removing the allergens that are causing you to sneeze, cough or wheeze.
6) Treat pets
Allergens and pollen sit on everything, including pets. It may not be what your dog wants but bathing your pets regularly and grooming them minimises the pollen they carry in their fur. Don’t forget, fleas can also be a major allergen in the household and so de-fleaing pets is also key in how to manage hay fever and other allergic reactions.
7) Wrap-around sunglasses
Sunglasses are often seen as a must-have summer fashion accessory but choose the right pair, and you could help minimise swollen, itchy eyes. Wrap-around sunglasses minimise the amount of pollen and other allergens that settle on your eyelids. Ditch the fashion accessory glasses, opting for those that protect your eyes from sun and pollen.
8) Vaseline barrier
This is a tip that many people use to manage hay fever throughout the summer season. We usually breathe pollen in through our nose. A thin layer of Vaseline, or similar, around the rim of each nostril, may ‘catch’ the pollen grains before they enter the nasal cavity. You then simply wipe the Vaseline away from time to time, reapplying it throughout the day. Other products can do the same thing.
9) Keep an eye on the weather report
Very helpfully, the weather services in the UK have started to predict the pollen count in areas of the country. Low suggest a low incidence of a strong reaction, through to medium and high. If possible, staying indoors on high pollen count days can help you avoid hay fever symptoms.
10) Hay fever remedies
Hiding away from the world is no way to enjoy Summer and in many cases, is simply not possible. Hay fever over the counter remedies can help minimise your response to pollen and other allergens. Antihistamine products may not get rid of hay fever completely but they certainly make life a little more bearable. There are tablets and liquid medicines as well as some herbal remedies that can help. However, you’ll need to start taking antihistamines as soon as Spring arrives, taking the recommended dose daily until well into Autumn.
While these hints and tips may not help you escape hay fever entirely, they could help you to stave off the worst of your symptoms, helping you enjoy these warmer months more.
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