It’s that time of year again. The sun is out, the leaves are back on the trees, and the evenings are getting longer (and of course Love Island is back). Summer is well and truly upon us and while this is great news for a lot of people, for those that suffer from hay fever it's often a bittersweet season.
So if you do suffer from hay fever, we’ve got you sorted with this handy list of natural remedies to ensure you can make the most of your summer this year.
What causes hay fever?
First things first, what actually causes hay fever? Hay fever is caused by pollen, as the pollen particles contain a protein that can cause inflammation, irritation and swelling of the nasal passages. It can also affect the eyes and throat.
Symptoms of hay fever broadly fall under one of two groups, the first being sinus congestion, watery eyes, copious mucus and an itchy nose; the second being an inflamed nose and mucus membranes, red and itchy eyes and ears, and headaches.
So here's a look at the natural hay fever remedies to use this summer...
Everyone knows vitamin C is great when it comes to strengthening your immune system (and helping to nurse a hangover) but it may also help to alleviate some of the symptoms of hayfever. Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine and antioxidant.
Studies have shown it may decrease inflammation, swelling, and related symptoms that happen due to an allergic reaction. It doesn’t work the same as an antihistamine medication, as it reduces the amount of histamine your body produces instead of blocking histamine receptors.
You can take steps to include more vitamin C in your diet, i.e. eating citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, peas, and kale, or take supplements.
You may have found in the past that eating spicy food can make you sweaty and give you a runny nose. Spicy foods can naturally help decongest a stuffy nose, plus adding chilli to your meals will add a heap load of flavour. If you’re not so big on chilli you can use cayenne pepper, garlic, or wasabi.
Suffers of hay fever may find their symptoms alleviated through acupuncture. According to he British Acupuncture Council, “Evidence from systematic reviews suggests that acupuncture and moxibustion may be a safe and effective treatment for allergies with benefits over conventional medicine.”
This treatment is definitely not for everyone. There are, however, cheaper, more accessible options (especially for those scared of needles).
While Vaseline may not seem to be the most obvious remedy, it can actually help to prevent pollen from entering your nose. By applying a small amount to the bottom of your nose before going outside it can form a protective barrier against pollen particles. It should be noted it won’t prevent all particles from entering your nose, but this method can be paired with others to achieve the best results.
Have a shower
Now this is something we all do anyway, but having a shower can actually help combat the effects of hay fever. If you are experiencing the symptoms from being outside, you should shower immediately after returning home.
When pollen levels are high, pollen can become attached to your hair and rest on your skin. Showering will help eliminate those allergens helping to prevent a reaction in the night.
Dry your clothes inside
Drying your clothes outside can lead to pollen particles being caught on the material, which is bad news for sufferers of hay fever. It’s best to dry your clothes on a drying rack indoors. Be mindful to close windows when drying, however, as this can result in nearly as many pollen particles to settle on your clothes as if they were left to dry outdoors.
Wash your hair at night
As with showering regularly, washing your hair at night can ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction during the night. The natural oils in your hair can build up to attract and trap pollen, dust, and allergens, so it's best to wash it regularly.
You should also avoid using hair sprays, gels, mousse, or any hair products designed for hold as they attract and store pollen.
Switch to contact lenses
Switching to contact lenses can be a good option to lessen the effects of hay fever, as it can act as a barrier of sorts to prevent pollen from entering your eyes.
This is a divisive option, however, as some people find contact lenses uncomfortable to wear in times of high pollen counts and switch to glasses instead.
The best option could be to wear contacts in times of low pollen, and switch to glasses in times of high counts. Switching to daily contacts as opposed to weekly or monthly lenses can also help out.
Sunglasses can be a great option for those who don’t already wear glasses as they form a protective barrier in front of your eyes. Not only can sunglasses protect your eyes, but they can also help reduce symptoms like sneezing and a runny nose, as the eyes and nose are closely connected.