Hay fever is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide – but if you’re suffering from hay fever for the first time then it can be a worrying time of life. After all, why has your nose suddenly begun running, your eyes feel puffy, and your throat scratchy?
Many people don’t quite appreciate how rubbish and demoralising hay fever is until they suffer from it. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up and accept defeat by our immune system!
Long-term hay fever sufferers will tell you of their coping mechanisms to get through the annual itchy periods that impact on their lives. There are some great hay fever hacks, medicines and advice out there to get you through the worst of it.
In this article, we’ll discuss what people suffering from hay fever for the first time can do to alleviate their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
What is hay fever?
Hay fever is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen, dust mites, animal hair, or other airborne allergens. People in the UK primarily suffer from hay fever over the early summer months, when tree and grass pollens are in full burst.
Hay fever can be particularly distressing for those experiencing it for the first time, as they may not know how to manage their symptoms effectively. So, here are things you can do to alleviate the symptoms…
Identify the triggers
The first step in managing hay fever is identifying the triggers that cause your symptoms. Common triggers include pollen, dust mites, animal hair, and mould. It can be helpful to keep a journal of your symptoms and note any patterns or changes.
You can also use an allergy testing kit to determine the specific allergen that is causing your symptoms, if it gets really bad. Once you have identified your triggers, you can take steps to avoid them and reduce your exposure.
Avoid exposure to allergens
Reducing your exposure to allergens is key to managing hay fever. Here are some ways to do this:
- Keep windows and doors closed during peak pollen times (usually in the morning and evening)
- Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove allergens from the air
- Take over-the-counter medications but never exceed the daily dose
- Wash your hands and face regularly to remove pollen and other allergens
- Change your clothes and take a shower after spending time outdoors
- Wear a mask when doing outdoor activities like gardening or mowing the lawn
There are several over-the-counter medications that can help relieve hay fever symptoms. These include antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays.
Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine, a chemical released by the immune system that causes symptoms like sneezing, itching and watery eyes. Decongestants help relieve nasal congestion, while nasal sprays can reduce inflammation in the nasal passages.
It is important to note that some over-the-counter medications can cause drowsiness or other side effects. Always read the label and follow the instructions carefully, and we recommend finding eco-friendly medicines. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your healthcare provider.
Try natural remedies
There are several natural remedies that may help relieve hay fever symptoms. These include:
- Honey – Some people believe that consuming local honey can help build immunity to pollen and reduce symptoms.
- Quercetin – This plant compound is found in many fruits and vegetables and has anti-inflammatory properties that may help relieve hay fever symptoms.
- Butterbur – This herb has been shown to reduce inflammation and may help relieve nasal congestion.
- Saline nasal rinse – This involves flushing the nasal passages with a saline solution to remove allergens and reduce inflammation.
It is important to note that natural remedies may not be as effective as over-the-counter medications, and some may have side effects or interact with other medications. Always talk to your healthcare provider before trying a new remedy.
See a healthcare provider
If your symptoms are severe or not improving with over-the-counter medications, it may be time to see a healthcare provider. They can prescribe stronger medications or recommend allergy shots, which can help desensitise your immune system to allergens over time.
In addition to medical treatment, your healthcare provider can also provide advice on managing your symptoms and reducing your exposure to allergens. They may recommend lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and managing stress, which can all help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.
Hay fever can be a challenging condition to manage, especially for those experiencing it for the first time. But by identifying your triggers, avoiding exposure to allergens, taking over-the-counter medications or natural remedies, and seeing a healthcare provider, you can get through the few weeks a year when hay fever hits and thrive.