As spring rolls around those of us who suffer from hay fever are prepping for what feels like the inevitable explosion of our faces as our bodies launch their annual attack on the allergens present in our environment. Thankfully, there are a few options available to us which we may not have considered, which can help to stave off the symptoms and alleviate our suffering – from air conditioners to stinging nettles.
What Causes Hay Fever?
When we fully understand the enemy it’s easier to find a cure, so let’s find out why our traitorous bodies respond as they do.
Hay fever has nothing to do with hay and very little to do with fever. Known as allergic rhinitis in medical circles, this is our body’s way of battling allergens which are seen by the immune system as frenzied invaders. Our system mistakes these allergens (pollen, spores, fungus or animal dander) as harmful and releases soldiers in the form of antibodies to go to war, flooding our bodies with inflammatory chemicals such as histamine.
Histamine allows the white blood cells and some proteins to pass through the capillaries to engage these perceived pathogens. This results in the itching, sneezing, and nasal congestion that hay fever sufferers are all too familiar with.
Some of us are just more prone to this effect than others. We may have an overly sensitive response to allergens, but there’s no known cure as such. So, we are left to manage our symptoms and our environments as best we can.
The Best Solutions for Hay Fever Sufferers
Understanding that there is no way to escape from the invisible spores or pollen present all around us does tend to limit our solutions. But all is not lost.
When it gets too much, most of us will reach for the pills. Anti-histamines work quickly and effectively to calm down our immune responses and allow us to breathe easy. They do tend to make us sleepy, however, so care should be taken if you are operating machinery, driving, or don’t want to fall asleep on your keyboard.
Keen on a more natural remedy?
- Stinging nettles reduce histamine in the body – although we don’t advocate stinging yourself with them! Nettle tea does just as well.
- A tablespoon of local, raw honey daily helps to build a tolerance to the pollen in your system.
- Burning a pure beeswax candle in your home helps to clean the air and is great for hay fever or asthma sufferers.
- Histamines are found in certain foods such as meats, nuts and (sadly) wine. If you are sensitive to allergens, then you may want to steer clear of these foods during spring and summer when the pollen count is at its peak.
If we have air conditioners in our homes or offices, then we no doubt appreciate how these can form a great first line of defence against hay fever triggers. A good air conditioner will suck in outside air and force it through sensitive filters which will remove the tiny spores and dust particles, leaving us with clean, pure air. What a great way to spend a day!
Aircons also serve to minimise the presence of fungus and mould spores, as these are less prolific in cool, dry spaces, preferring a warm and moist environment.
We know, however, that it’s not practical to suggest staying indoors for months at a time just to avoid pollen. So, if you are keen on spending time outdoors, choose a time after a rain shower, perhaps, which scrubs the air clean. Don’t go outside while the grass is being cut, and when do you, it’s a good idea to wear a hat to stop spores collecting in your hair and falling into your face.
Clean up at home
Keeping your home clutter free equals less dust and makes it a whole lot easier to keep clean. Despite our best efforts though, these troublesome tree and grass spores have a way of making it into our sanctuaries and wreaking havoc.
We’d like to offer some simple tips to keep your home pollen-free:
- Don’t dry your sheets and towels outside when there is a high pollen count. That brings allergens inside and into your bed, meaning another week of sneezing and watering eyes. Washing your bedding in hot water helps to get rid of dust mites.
- Take a shower when you get home after a day outside and change your clothes to get rid of a pollen build-up on your hair, skin or clothing.
- Make sure that the filters in your air conditioner are cleaned regularly, and keep doors and windows closed while the unit is running.
- If possible, keep pets outdoors – or at the very least give them a daily wipe down with a damp cloth which will remove outside pollen as well as residual dander. Keep them off beds and furniture as much as possible.
- Use bleach to clean bathrooms and showers where mould thrives. Keep these well ventilated.
Yes, spring is nearly upon us. Why not get prepared for nature’s onslaught with a good-quality air conditioner, a spring clean, and a stock of honey.