The difference between hay fever and a cold is that hay fever can last for months. The season runs from March (early spring) to September (late summer) and symptoms include sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, ears and throat, blocked nose, headache, earache – basically all your cold symptoms but every day over the summer. Hay fever sufferers lose count of the sneezes they do per day, and some days even the usual antihistamines don’t quite take care of the symptoms. Our survival guide to hay fever season should help.
Take a daily, non-sedating antihistamine. Try all the over the counter ones and see which one works for you – some do cause drowsiness, so be aware of that before trying a new one when you need to drive. A good idea is to find an antihistamine that works on a day-to-day basis, and have another, more powerful one in reserve for bad days. Anti-inflammatory eye drops work too, and some sufferers swear by nasal sprays.
Buy some honey, local honey, and dose yourself up on it before the season starts. Or, if the season has already started, have a spoonful on bad days. The idea behind this is based on the theory of vaccines, where you take a small dose of the disease in order to build up immunity. Eat local honey (made from the pollen in your area that you are allergic to) and build up a natural immunity. Good kitchen-based home remedies that help clear a blocked nose is eating horseradish or chilli. They contain capsaicin, which opens nasal passages. Extreme, but effective!
People are allergic to different pollens and that’s why people suffer at different times. Pollen from trees, grasses and weeds all cause allergic reactions, and this can change with time and location. Go on holiday one summer and you may a find a place where you don’t get hay fever. It happens. So, keep an eye on the pollen count, it’s often highest in the morning and evening on hot, windy days. Try and stay inside when you can and when you’re out, wear wraparound sunglasses. At home, close doors and windows, don’t have cut flowers and avoid drying your clothes outside.
Pollen sticks to you and your clothes. Wash your face when you come home and when your symptoms are really bad, wash your hair and change your clothes. It’s always a good idea during the hay fever season to shower in the evenings to help reduce symptoms at night.
Another way to keep pollen out of your nose is to put some Vaseline around it. This captures some, but not all, of the pollen from going into your nostrils. Tiger balm or any medicated balm will help clear nasal passages too. Just be careful not to get it in your eyes.
Good luck, and hopefully one or all of these will help!