It’s that time again folks! We’re all excited to get out into the sunshine and maybe even to relax on our patios for a couple of hours as the temperature begins to creep upwards. Get some vitamin D, catch some rays – it’s something to look forward to, right?
Not if you have hay fever it isn’t.
You’re sitting out for less than thirty seconds when the symptoms start. Your eyes begin to water, there’s a tickle in your throat that you just can’t shake and your head is starting to feel reeeeallly heavy all of a sudden.
We’ve all been there. It’s frustrating when all you want is to enjoy the good weather and you’re limited by your body’s reaction. Hay fever is our body’s overreaction to the changing of seasons, where our immune system goes into overdrive due to an allergy to pollen. The pollen contains a protein that can trigger inflammation, irritation and swelling in the nasal passages, eyes and throat. This reaction causes our bodies to release histamine, an inflammatory mediator that causes us to sneeze, have itchy, watery eyes and swollen nasal passages.
The HSE recommend antihistamine drops, tablets or nasal sprays and that you visit your GP if your symptoms don't improve after taking medicines from the pharmacy. But what naturals remedies are out there that can help us survive this hay fever season that will act alongside the products from the pharmacy? We’ve scoured the web for people’s tips and tricks on how to live your best outdoor life this hay fever season, and combat that swelling and irritation that can happen when we venture outside.
This one is perfect for a blocked nose that has you feeling all bunged up. Fill a bowl with hot water and a few drops of eucalyptus oil which are great for clearing your blocked sinuses. Put a towel over your head and hold your face over the bowl, trapping the steam with the towel. Inhale deeply for 8-10 minutes. Blow your nose afterwards and feel the relief instantly!
Eat local honey
It sounds like it shouldn’t work because of the bee pollen present in honey, but it actually functions to desensitise your immune system to the pollen in your area. With honey’s anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory nature, it can actually help with the swelling and itching too!
If the thought of eating raw honey isn’t for you, mixing it with a squeeze of lemon and hot water a few times a day can also help to fight off symptoms. Unprocessed honey or raw honey is best for this.
Stay away from certain drinks
We know, we know, a beer garden drink is something we’re all looking forward to right now. But studies seem to show that drinking certain alcohols can actually increase the chance of you having a reaction. Asthma UK cites red wine and beer as the two worst drinks to have, due to their high levels of histamine. However, clear spirits like gin and vodka both have low levels of histamine, so are perfect tipples for those suffering.
Have a cuppa
If you haven’t hopped on the herbal tea craze already then now is your chance! Certain teas like peppermint, ginger, chamomile, elderflower and anise are all great for containing natural histamines and for keeping you hydrated! Sipping these herbal teas throughout the day will release some of your congestion and soothe your throat, easing that ‘heavy head’ feel and loosening some of the mucus blocking you up. Chamomile is apparently one of the better ones to try, as it not only eases your symptoms but is also an antioxidant that has an antihistamine affect, essentially preventing pollen particles from entering your bloodstream. Some blogs also recommend nettle tea but advise against using it if you’re pregnant.
Update your pantry
Just like certain alcohols can exacerbate your symptoms, there are certain foods that are making your hay fever situation worse. Dairy is apparently a real killer from overstimulating your glands, so cutting that down is an important first step. Tomatoes and avocados have high histamine content, whereas foods like onions and garlic are great for blocking the production of histamine.
Foods high in carotenoids, a natural pigment in food, supposedly also works to reduce inflammation. Foods like carrots, apricots and sweet potato have carotenoids present. Turmeric is another powerful anti-inflammatory to add to your food. Apart from spicing things up a little, it’s great for helping with nasal congestion, which is always good news for hay fever sufferers.
Switch up your routine
Are you usually a morning shower person? Waking up with a puffy face, and just want to wash it away? The solution lies in switching around your routine. By showering at night, you wash away any pollen that’s accumulated on your skin or hair so it won’t end up in your bedclothes and on your pillow, making your swollen and restless by morning. Morning puffiness will no longer be a problem!