Beat Hay Fever
Itchy eyes. Tickly throat. Runny nose. An estimated 10 million people suffer from the symptoms of hay fever, which can also include coughing, sneezing, a blocked nose, watery eyes, and itching in the airways & ears! In extreme cases there may also be headaches, earaches and feelings of fatigue. For those that suffer, here are some of the ways to beat the symptoms…
What is Hay Fever?
Well, first, despite its name, it’s not a fever. Second, it’s not necessarily caused by hay! In fact, hay fever is an allergic reaction to various types of pollen. Of course, pollen is normally completely harmless, so it really shouldn’t be the case, but some people’s immune systems interpret pollen as a harmful substance. Consequently, the body releases an antibody called ‘IgE’ to fight off this perceived threat.
Yes! IgE is the name given to the antibody ‘Immunoglobulin E’ which stimulates, among other things, the release of a chemical called histamine. Histamine is one of the means by which the body tries to clear out your airways, where pollen often sits. So it’s actually the release of histamine that causes the symptoms of hay fever, and that’s why people take antihistamines.
Is Some Pollen Worse Than Others?
Oh yes! And this in itself can be useful to know. If you find you get hay fever more in the spring time, it’s very likely you’re reacting to tree pollens. Summer sufferers are more likely to be reacting to grass pollen. It’s also possible that you’ll have a reaction in the autumn: that’s caused by an allergy to weed pollens. In any case, the first thing to take note of is when you get hay fever, and which pollens you’re sensitive to, since that may inform this next point.
The evidence isn’t conclusive on this, but some suggest cutting down on certain foods might help when hay fever raises its head. Those reacting to tree pollen may well have reactions to raw tomatoes, raw carrots, apples, pears, celery and even some spicy curries! If your reaction seems to be to grass pollen, though, it may benefit you to steer clear of kiwi fruits, oats, rye, wheat, and – again – raw tomatoes.
Out for the Count:
The amount of pollen in the air affects the degree to which many people suffer, with symptoms usually kicking in when the pollen count is "Over 50". That means boffins somewhere have calculated an average number of pollen particles in a cubic metre of air. A ‘low’ pollen count is considered fewer than 30 grains per cubic metre, ‘moderate’ has a count of 30-49 grains, ‘high’ has 50-149 grains and ‘very high’ would start at 150 or more grains per single cubic metre of air.
Higher or Lower?
On those days when the pollen count is higher, you may well find it helps to keep windows and doors closed. If less pollen gets in the house, then less pollen can get in your airways – unless you’re going outside, of course! In which case, you should know that the pollen count tends to be higher earlier in the morning, and then again in the evening. Avoid being outside during those times, especially.
What if I have to go out?
Let’s face it, at some point you’ve got to go out – and you can’t dress up in a hermetically sealed environmental suit! But there are a couple of measures you can take. For one thing, keep the window closed in your car and use the air conditioning if you have it… Most air con units have a pollen filter, whereas the wind carries pollen right in through the window!
For the same reason that you should keep the car windows shut, you should also avoid being outdoors when it’s breezy with a higher pollen count. The wind brings the pollen to you and, while you may not realize it, it clings to your hair, skin and clothes… So even when you go back inside, you’ll be covered in the stuff!
Not Many People Know That!
Now that you know something comparatively few people do – that pollen clings to your hair, skin and clothes – you’ll appreciate that it’s a terrific idea to shower and change your clothes as soon as you come in the house. Absolutely avoid wearing any of the same clothes two days running during times when there’s a lot of pollen in the air, too.
And So… To Bed!
On a similar point, when you find that your hay fever’s bad, make sure you wash your bedding a little more frequently, too. If pollen is on you when you slip between the sheets, there’s a good chance some of it’ll then cling to the bed clothes! Also, when you do the laundry make sure you hang your clothes up to dry inside the house, or use the tumble drier… Not many people cotton on to the fact that hanging clothes up outside is, to the hay-fever sufferer, comparable to putting out pollen collectors!
While coffee can make hay fever symptoms worse, chamomile tea is helpful. That’s because it’s a natural anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. Drinking chamomile tea isn’t the only use for it, though… You can also take a couple of teabags – after they have cooled down considerably, of course – and pop them on your eyes.
Getting Up Your Nose:
Many people swear by applying a thin layer of Vaseline just inside the nostrils before leaving the house. It seems to work because much of the pollen clings to the grease rather than getting right up in your airways and triggering the immune response.
One Man Went to Mow:
It should go without saying that working in the garden will trigger a reaction in many people, but in particular mowing the lawn on days when the pollen count is high is asking for trouble. Leave the grass growing a little while longer and don’t go near it or – better still – persuade someone else to cut it for you while you’re out for the day!
Don’t Raise Your Glasses…
Many people who wear spectacles or sunglasses are, knowingly or otherwise, fighting off hay fever at the same time! The pollen can’t get into your eyes as easily with eyewear on, so you stay ahead of the game right there. Of course, those wrap around glasses are the best sort for this point, if not as a style choice!
Look into my Eyes:
Finally, Mark Tyrrell – a charming hypnotherapist with a whole bunch of letters after his name – compares the hay-fever immune response to a car alarm that’s set too sensitively: "You don’t want it going off because there’s a cat on the bonnet…" he says, "…you want it going off when there’s really a threat!"
"It’s the same with the immune response." Mark continues: "It needs to be retrained to respond to serious threats and let something like pollen go!" If you’d like to find out more about how hypnosis does this, check out the audio session via http://www.hypnosisdownloads.com/health-issues/hayfever-relief – it’s very relaxing too, as it happens!
Sloane Square Clinic cannot accept responsibility for the consequences of any action or inaction based on its Newsletter or Info Sheets. If you have any doubts or concerns over medical and health issues, our best advice is always to pop in to see us, visit your GP or call NHS Direct on 111 to discuss your health.