Hayfever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction to pollen.
When the pollen in the body goes over a certain level – you could call it your sensitivity level – your body will start to produce extra histamines. Histamines can produce all sorts of reactions in people: Sneezing, runny nose, sore eyes, itchy eyes, itchy throat, itchy ears, itchy roof of the mouth – the list goes on.
The vast majority of people who get hayfever are affected during the months of May and June because they are allergic to grass pollen and these months are when Grass pollen is around. However, there are many different pollens which come out at all times of the year; tree pollen starts in February and there is some sort of pollen around every month of the year.
It depends what research you read, but it is generally accepted that 15 – 20% of the population suffer from hayfever, and that this percentage increase to as much as 35-40% in 15-25 year olds. So as you get older, your hayfever might become less severe and more bearable.
But there appear to be no rules, different people react differently to different things and some weird things happen. A woman told me last year that she had never had hayfever in her life until she became pregnant with her first baby. She then suffered dreadfully every summer until she had her third baby when the hayfever stopped just as suddenly as it had started. People say that pollen is less abundant when it is raining but I have had some terrible days when it is raining and been unaffected in the same week when the sun came out – and I have had people telling me they have had similar experiences. So hayfever can affect one person very badly one year while another has virtually no reaction. The following year these roles can be completely reversed. So it can be a pretty difficult thing to pin down. But there are lost of things you can do about it.
Drug based remedies
Since the culprit of hayfever is the histamines which, when produced more abundantly than normal, cause all these horrible reactions, the scientists managed to produce things called anti histamines. These do exactly what it says on the tin and they ‘bosh’ the histamines. So when the histamines are ‘boshed’, the reaction reduces. Which is great except for one thing. Histamines are the things in the brain which contribute to keeping us alert attentive and a wake. So when you bosh them you get drowsy, less attentive and less alert. No wonder that your work might suffer in these circumstances. However, modern anti histamines are much better and they have minimised these side effects although it is, of course, very difficult to get rid of them completely.
Then there are steroids. Steroids are like magic. I remember when my daughter at age 3 was diagnosed with arthritis and had got to the stage where she could literally hardly move. She was in a hospital bed and the consultant was telling us she needed steroids. We hated the idea of pumping steroids into such a young child and sought advice form a GP who was also a trained homeopath. She said that she with her homeopathy she would be able to fight the effects of the arthritis over a long period of time. But, she said, “if this was my daughter, I would give her the steroids.” We did and within minutes of the drug being administered our daughter got up and walked around the hospital. She hadn’t been able to move for 3 days! The problem is that the side effects can be really awful. But steroids, usually administered as nasal sprays will also (often) be effective. And they are administered in small dose and only for relatively short periods of the year. Nevertheless, understandably because of the many possible unpleasant side effects, lots of people are uncomfortable about using them.
There are also various sensitising injections that can be tried which work for many people. You should consult your GP who will be able to help you decide which of these will be best for you if you wish to go down this route.
Stop Hayfever WITHOUT the drugs!
But there is another way. Instead of looking for a hayfever treatment, why not prevent it? By accident, I came across something which I developed into HayMaxTM, a drug-free and organic pollen barrier balm. When you apply a small amount to the bottom of the nose, some of the pollen which would have gone up your nose, sticks to the HayMaxTM instead. So less pollen goes inside. If you have less pollen in your body so that you don’t reach the point where your body reacts to it (your sensitivity level), you don’t have to take any drugs to correct the reaction. You’ve stopped it happening in the first place. Although people often refer to HayMaxTM as a natural hayfever treatment or a natural hayfever remedy it isn’t. It’s just a very simple prevention.
Of course there are also plenty of natural treatments and remedies available for hayfever and, as I said earlier, we are all different and different things will work for different people. Apples and red onions contain a natural anti-histamine called quercetin and pineapples contain something called bromelain which helps the body absorb the quercetin. So you could eat lots of these. Conveniently though, there are manufacturers who have extracted these elements and made them into tablets which some people find helpful. There is lots of evidence to show that Butterbur, when extracted properly, is also very helpful for hayfever sufferers. And many people have heard of a teaspoon of local honey a day for a month or two before your season starts to sensitise to your local pollen. (Not so good when you leave your local area though).
Then there are the simple practical things you can do to avoid the pollen. Here are few tips to wrap up with:
Hay fever: General Tips
• Pollen levels are at their highest in the mornings and evenings – so avoid gardeningoroutdoor activities at these times. Apparently, pollen counts tend to reach a peak between 9 a.m. and 12 midday. After this they start dropping until around 5 p.m. when they start to rise again to another peak around 7 p.m.
• Try not to leave washing out on the line in early mornings or evenings as pollen will collect on it.
• Changing clothes and showering when you come in during these peak pollen periods can help reduce the amount of pollen around you.
• Apply a pollen barrier balm (HayMax™) to the base of your nose to trap pollen before it enters your body.
• Wear sunglasses – this helps to stop pollen grains hitting your eyes. One of the worst symptoms of Hay fever is itchy eyes. You can put HayMaxTM around the eyes, too, but be careful not to get it in the eye. The HayMaxTM would probably not hurt your eye but bacteria from your finger might get into your eye and infect it.
• Use an air purifier in your bedroom during the summer months, this is claimed to give relief from hayfever symptoms at night.
Hayfever: Gardening Tips
• Choose female plant varieties for your garden – as male varieties are usually the pollen creators. Very often seedless or fruitless varieties will be male – so avoiding these should help. Less pollen in your garden should mean less hayfever!
• Plant double flowers in your garden – such as double headed chrysanthemums – which often have petals instead of pollen parts. And keep a check on weeds! They often turn into great pollen producers!
• Avoid chemicals and pesticides – it has been claimed that exposure to these can trigger allergic reactions in people who previously had no allergies.
• Choose disease resistant plants for your garden – as along with diseases come all sorts of spores and allergens that can make your life a misery. And some people advise growing plants and trees native to the area, as they are more likely to grow well and be less diseased. If a plant’s not looking healthy, it may be best to remove it. So a healthier garden could result in a healthier you – with less hayfever to worry about!
Hayfever: Diet Tips
• Start preparing for the hayfever season a month or two in advance.
• Keep your diet nutritionally varied, full of essential fatty acids (such as from nuts and seeds) and vitamin C, to help reduce inflammation during the summer months.
• Eat red onions and apples regularly, as they are both high in quercetin, a natural anti-histamine.
• Take a teaspoon of local honey dissolved in warm water every day for one month before the hayfever season, to desensitise your system against local pollen. (Can be a useful tip as long as you don’t go out of your local area).