Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, and it can produce a variety of symptoms. Hay fever symptoms may vary from person to person, and can be mild, moderate or severe.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for hay fever. But, once you understand the symptoms of hay fever, you can then choose how to manage them to you can enjoy time outdoors.
Symptoms of hay fever have some similarities with the common cold, but unlike a cold, hay fever can last through the pollen seasons, or even all year.
Here are the most common symptoms of hay fever:
Pollen enters the body through the nose and eyes. As a result, the main allergic reaction sends ‘help’ to these areas first. Sneezing is designed to rid the body of pollen but expelling it outwards, as well as mucus production to stop more pollen entering.
For a mild reaction, you may only sneeze a little. Others have episodes of full on, repetitive sneezing, especially when outside or inside with doors or windows open.
A stuffy nose is another common hay fever symptom. You may have trouble breathing through nostrils, as tissue is inflamed and swollen.
Congestion may only be apparent at night, or throughout the day. Being able to only breathe through the mouth can make it become dry.
Itchy and Watery Eyes
Pollen can create itchy eyes, and rubbing them is hard to resist. But, this can make them even more itchy and irritated, and the area around and underneath the eyes can begin to swell.
Eyes will often water as the body tries to rid itself of the pollen.
Hay fever can create a tickling cough. Not everyone will experience a cough as part of their hay fever symptoms, but is does occur.
When your body is constantly in a state of trying to fight off pollen, you may often feel tired. You may also be having poor quality sleep. Some hay fever medicines can add to drowsiness too.
Sneezing and itching eyes can make you feel irritated and short tempered. Your skin may also itch, adding to the sense of irritation.
Having to spend the best part of the year reducing outdoor activity can affect you both physically and mentally.
Irritation from hay fever can make you feel low as you get fed up with your symptoms.
When the sun is shining, feeling like you have to stay in because of hay fever can make you feel depressed. You might see friends and family enjoy being outside but feel unable to join them.
You may also feel anxious if you have to spend time outside, as you know that your symptoms will flare.
Decreased ability to concentrate
It can be hard to concentrate on tasks when you are being overrun with hay fever symptoms.
What can I do to relieve Hay Fever Symptoms?
Thankfully, there are ways you can lessen the effects of hay fever symptoms.
Medicines for Hay Fever
Over the counter anti-histamine medicines include Loratadine, Cetirizine and Acrivastine. These are tablets that you take once per day. You may find that your symptoms respond better to one type of medicine than another.
Nasal Sprays help to soothe the lining of the nose, reduce inflammation and help clear the nasal passages.
Eye drops can help to stop itchy eyes reduce swelling. Keeping them in the fridge will also make them cool, helping to soothe your eyes more.
There are also medications to discuss with your doctor, such as steroid sprays or injections for hay fever.
Barriers to Pollen
Wraparound sunglasses can help prevent pollen from getting to the eyes. Other barriers include nasal balms to catch pollen grains, and also nasal filters.
Reducing Pollen in the Home
While pollen in the home is of much less quantity than outdoors, it can still affect hay fever sufferers. If you can, try to keep windows and doors shut where possible.
If you’d rather not shut out the good weather, at least keep bedroom windows and doors shut to create a pollen free environment for bedtime.
If you dry our washing outside, pollen grains will stick to it and will be transferred onto clothing and into your home. Dry washing indoors to avoid this.
Air filters work well at removing pollen, dust and other irritants from the air.
Having one in the bedroom can help you keep this room pollen free, so you get a good night’s sleep.
Natural Remedies for Hay Fever
Some folk remedies may help to relieve symptoms of hay fever.
Eating local honey helps to expose your immune system to pollen grains in your area, supposedly allowing the immune system to become desensitised.
There are mixed reports of this working, but it could be because some people only try eating the honey once hay fever symptoms start. It is a good idea to begin eating local honey daily before the pollen season starts, to see if it has any effect.
You can buy local honey from farmer’s markets, or some food stores. You may also see it for sale at outdoor fayres, butcher and baker shops.
What do you find helps your symptoms of hay fever the best? Please share!