Hay fever season is almost here – and this year, particularly for those on the east coast, it is predicted to be nasty. Grass is a major source of allergies, and our long, wet winter has provided the perfect environment for lots of grass to grow. And lots of grass means lots of pollen.
Of course, pollen comes from not only grasses but weeds, flowers and trees. Any of these pollens can create havoc for sufferers of hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and asthma. Given that the pollen season lasts for several months each year, the thought of hay fever season is daunting to many.
Fortunately, there are plenty of natural hay fever remedies at hand, so there’s no need to be overmedicated. Plus, there are some essential lifestyle tips that every hay fever sufferer should know about. Here’s what you can do.
First, let’s look at how you can identify hayfever. Symptoms of hayfever (allergic rhinitis symptoms) are quite distinguishable, such as:
Once the symptoms have started, you may develop a congested nose and feel fatigued or irritable, particularly as you will probably be having trouble sleeping.
If you suffer from allergic rhinitis, you may be wondering, ‘why me’? Hay fever affects approximately one in five people, so you’re not alone – but despite its name, it is not caused from hay, and it doesn’t give you a fever!
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is an allergic disorder where your body creates an exaggerated immune response to pollen and other allergens. Your body thinks that this harmless substance is dangerous and overreacts, quickly producing chemicals such as histamine, which causes your nasal passages, sinuses and eyelids to swell. Histamine is also responsible for your sneezing and watering eyes.
Some people suffer allergic rhinitis all year round (perennial) while others are affected only seasonally. If you suffer hay fever in the spring, chances are you’re allergic to tree pollen. Grass and weed problems are likely to be more responsible for your allergic reaction in the summer.
There are natural remedies for allergies – and you can avoid flare-ups by making some lifestyle or behaviour changes:
Supplements for hay fever relief
There are some supplements available that have reasonable or good scientific studies behind them. For example, studies show that vitamin C has an antihistamine effect and may have a positive effect on the immune system. Horseradish, garlic and ginger are also popular hay fever fighters as they help to ease the congestion.
If you’d like to read unbiased scientific research on supplements for hay fever relief, Examine.com is an independent encyclopaedia on supplementation and nutrition. Not affiliated with any supplement company, they have a team of health professionals researching the thousands of supplements on the market today.
One of the best drug-free alternatives may be allergen immunotherapy. This is a long-term treatment option that, unlike medications (‘natural’ or pharmaceutical) does more than just treat the symptoms. Also known as desensitisation, it switches off the allergic reaction by repeatedly introducing small doses of allergen extracts by tablets, sublingual drops or injection. Allergen immunotherapy is not a quick fix, as treatment is usually given over several years. Anyone wishing to undergo such treatment must first be assessed by a clinical immunologist or allergy specialist to see if the treatment is appropriate for you. Speak to your doctor for more information.
Saline sprays are an effective way of washing away dust, allergens and pollen, along with thinning the mucus to avoid a blocked nose. You can use saline sprays as often as you want without fear of overdosing – making them useful for pregnant women.
Salt therapy, when regularly used at home, is a well-known best friend for hay fever sufferers, with literally thousands reporting wonderful symptomatic relief. A Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device is easy to use and may make this season far more tolerable. Simply plug it in and position it next to your bed while you sleep.
The device works in two ways: the air filter will draw allergens and pollen from the room while simultaneously releasing tiny salt particles into the air. Once inhaled, the salt works quickly and gently to calm any irritation in the nasal passages, soothe mucus membranes and minimise mucus.
A final word…
Although no one wants to take unnecessary medications, sometimes pharmaceutical drugs are required to get you through this difficult season, particular if you are a chronic hay fever suffer.
Dr Mimi Tang, allergy specialist at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, says the impact of hay fever on quality of life is often underestimated. She states that hayfever can impact quality of life to the same extent as moderate to severe asthma.
According to hayfeverhelp.com.au, recent consumer research found that 53% of people never consulted a doctor for their hayfever symptoms. So if you find your life being negatively affected by the condition, see your doctor.