11 ways to stay symptom-free this hay fever season

The arrival of longer, sunnier days are more than welcome after a cold, dark winter. That being said, the blooming flowers can also mark the arrival of hay fever season.

Allergic rhinitis – more commonly known as hay fever – is a collection of symptoms caused by airborne particles of pollen. The one in four of us that suffer from hay fever in the UK can experience a range of symptoms including watery eyes, bouts of sneezing and runny noses as our bodies launch an immune response in an attempt to flush out the offending pollen.

If left untreated, this pesky allergy can keep us locked indoors and unable to make the most of the warmer weather. Read on for our top tips for staying sneeze-free this season.

Our top tips for treating hay fever

Stay pollen savvy

This handy pollen forecast from the Met Office keeps you up to date with regional pollen levels. It’s also worth noting that pollen counts are at their highest at the beginning and end of the day.

Embrace the magic of mushrooms

Research is increasingly showing that medicinal mushrooms may be an effective strategy when it comes to a symptom-free hay fever season.

A 2012 study conducted in guinea pigs found that those treated with a daily dose of reishi mushroom experienced a significant reduction in ‘nasal hyper-responsiveness’. We can liken this in humans to a runny nose or sneezing too often.

Further research also concluded that reishi mushrooms contain compounds that have anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties. The theory is that they help our immune system to function proportionately, lessening our body’s response to pollen and easing symptoms.

Keen to give it a go? We love the medicinal mushroom tinctures from Bristol Fungarium. Find the brand’s Reishi tincture here – don’t forget you can save 15% off with the code LIZLOVES.

Give quercetin a go

Quercetin is a plant pigment and flavonol found in fruits, vegetables, grains and leaves. It is also a naturally occurring anti-histamine and worth having in our hay fever armoury.

Quercetin helps to dampen our immune system’s response. This means less histamine ends up in our cells, thereby preventing the symptoms. Interestingly, one study found that, in rats, quercetin also improved anaphylactic allergic reactions to peanuts, so it may be able to help us humans with other allergies, such as pollen, too.

Quercetin is a common antioxidant in our diets. It’s found most abundantly in apples with dark skins and red onions, but also in yellow peppers and capers too. Often it’s present in fruit and veg with rich coloured skins, such as purple grapes, but you can also find it in greens, including kale and broccoli.

We like the Quercetin supplements from Biocare, which also contain vitamin C for immune and antioxidant support. You can save 15% off your order at Biocare with the code LIZLOVES24.

Reach for some sunnies

If symptoms of hay fever are particularly acute around the eyes, it can be really helpful to use a physical block as well as anti-histamine eye drops. With the added bonus of protecting delicate under eye skin from damaging (and ageing) UV radiation, sunglasses also help to keep out any airborne pollen. Sleeping with windows shut and a fan on can also help to prevent pollen settling on your eyes as you sleep.

Wash hair and clothes daily

Throughout the day, pollen particles can get caught in our hair and clothes. This often results in a flare of symptoms even when safely indoors. Washing or brushing out hair and/or simply changing our clothes once home can prevent any unnecessary irritation. If allergies escalate out of control, stand under a cool shower to help bring rapid relief.

Dry clothes and bed sheets inside

Once again, clothes and bed linen hung outside to dry can accumulate huge amounts of pollen. Using a tumble dryer or hanging laundry (particularly pillow cases) away from open windows are safer options for those struggling with hay fever.

Keep pets off the furniture

At this time of year, dogs really aren’t a man’s best friend. Our furry companions can carry pollen from outside and leave traces of it throughout our homes. If symptoms of hay fever are keeping you up at night, make sure pets are kept off the bed.

Avoid cigarette smoke

If you needed another reason to stay away from the cigarettes, the thousands of chemicals present in smoke can irritate the lungs, eyes, throat and nose. They’ll exacerbate any symptoms of hay fever.

Avoid alcohol

We love a G&T in the sun as much as the next person but, unfortunately, alcohol stimulates the production of histamine – the pesky chemical that is produced in excess in hay fever sufferers. If sneezing and runny noses are getting you down, we recommend opting for a mocktail, a glass of gut-friendly kombucha or even a non-alcoholic spirit such as the deliciously botanical Seedlip Garden.

Listen to your gut

Here at Liz Earle Wellbeing we are passionate advocates for great gut health. It really does affect all areas of health from digestion to mental health. Studies show that probiotics that contain both Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria can help to alleviate hay fever symptoms.

While many swear by eating a spoonful of locally-produced honey in order to help the body build an immunity to local pollen, there is currently no evidence from the scientific community to support this claim. However, raw honey is a good prebiotic. Research shows that it aids digestion and promotes a healthy gut microbial balance in favour of hay fever fighting Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria.

Visit your GP

If severe symptoms persist, it’s worth popping to see your local GP. There are a number of prescription-only treatments available. This includes stronger anti-histamine tablets, steroids and immunotherapy – a treatment that exposes patients to increasing amounts of pollen over time through tablets and/or injections.

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