Hay fever: tips to keep it at bay in the coming weeks

From general hygiene to herbal remedies, how to deal with pollen season


1) Monitor pollen forecasts

Try to stay indoors as much as you can on high-pollen days. In particular, avoid outdoor activity between 10am and 4pm, the peak time for pollen dissemination. The best time to be outside is after rain, which helps to clear pollen from the air. If you are outside on high-pollen days, taking precautions such as putting petroleum jelly around your nostrils to trap pollen and wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop it getting into your eyes can help.

2) Wash regularly

Wash your hands often. On high-pollen days, make sure you shower and wash your hair when you get home home, since pollen can collect on your skin, hair and clothes throughout the day. Make sure you wash bed sheets weekly in hot water.

3) Keep indoor air clean

Keep windows and doors shut as much as possible to prevent pollen from settling in your home and consider buying a dehumidifier to keep the indoor air as dry as possible. Portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can help keep your bedroom pollen-free, while many experts suggest using a vacuum cleaner with an inbuilt HEPA filter. In the car, try to use air conditioning rather than opening the window on hot days, particularly when the pollen count is high.

4) Take care with laundry and gardening

Avoid hanging laundry outside to dry, since your clothes can trap pollens. Gardening chores such as mowing the lawn and weeding can trigger hay fever attacks, so consider wearing a filter mask while doing such activities.

5) Limit mucus-congesting foods

Dairy products and sugary foods can exacerbate common hay fever symptoms such as nasal congestion, because they increase the production of mucus in the respiratory tract. Try alternatives to dairy such as almond milk and rice milk and try to supplement your diet with foods that have natural antihistamine properties such as broccoli, asparagus, onions, garlic, cherries, pineapple and kiwi fruit.

6) Take medication

Antihistamines are the most common hay fever medications. While they are associated with side-effects such as drowsiness, more modern antihistamines such as cetirizine, loratadine and fexofenadine are less likely to make you sleepy. You may need to try several types to find which works best for you; consult a pharmacist for advice. If you see that high pollen counts are forecast, start taking medication before your symptoms begin.

7) Try herbal teas

Herbal remedies such as licorice tea, nettle tea and ginger and honey may help relieve symptoms such as congestion and itchiness, since they help to reduce respiratory tract inflammation. The tea should be steeped for at least eight minutes to ensure that the crucial ingredients are present in a higher concentration. – Guardian