March 20 is the first day of spring for the Northern Hemisphere, so don’t be surprised if, in the next few days, you start to feel an itching feeling in your nose, throat and eyes. The pollen-filled air can make it difficult for those who suffer from hay fever – including somewhere in the range of 15% to 20% of the world’s population – to enjoy the outdoors in this, the prettiest of seasons. Take heed of these 10 useful tips and make your hay fever worries a thing of the past.
Belonging firmly at the top of the list, antihistamines are the best way to reduce symptoms of hay fever, unless you have a negative reaction to them. Whether you take antihistamines in the form of a nasal spray or capsules, they’re a powerful way to reduce your body’s allergic reaction to air-borne pollen.
Along with itching eyes, hay fever comes with the frustration of a runny nose. Besides keeping your Kleenex handy, you may want to treat the rims and inside of your nose with some nasal balm. Often made from natural extracts like beeswax, aloe vera juice or seed oils, a nasal balm can help to soothe the broken skin caused by having to constantly blow your nose.
If you suffer from chest congestion in spring, try placing your head over a bowl of very hot water that contains crushed eucalyptus, and use a towel to keep all the steam in. The natural oils of the eucalyptus leaf have a pleasant fragrance and, together with the steam, do a great job of relieving nasal and chest congestion.
If you live in an area where there’s lots of plant life, there’s a good chance that being indoors won’t be enough to keep you safe from pollen. In these situations, an air purifier can help to clear pollen, dust and other potential allergy-causing particles from the air in your home.
Never underestimate the power of vitamin C. Whether you take it as a supplement or by increasing your intake of foods like citrus fruits, vitamin C can help ease wheezing and the production of mucus.
Honey can help to ease the throat irritation from having to constantly clear your throat. Many also use honey as a regular addition to their diets to prevent throat irritation from occurring in the first place.
Protecting your eye
Wearing glasses and rinsing your eyes regularly, especially after you’ve been outside, can help to reduce eye irritation and itchiness. This is especially important for people who wear contact lenses – nothing is worse than the discomfort of a contact lens on a dry eye!
Corticosteroids in nasal sprays perform similar functions to antihistamines, but act locally in the nasal region. Corticosteroids typically take effect only within three to seven hours, and work best when used consistently over a period of time.
Nasal air guards
For those who must be outside even at the height of the allergy season, nasal air guards are a possible solution. Fitting inside the nose, they form a barrier to pollen and other allergens.
Desensitisation to allergy-causing pollens via immunotherapy treatment is increasing in popularity. The treatment involves administering minute amounts of pollen in the form of tablets or injections, and incrementally increasing the dose over a three-year period. This slowly increases your body’s natural tolerance to the allergens.