Wednesday, 24 April 2013

'Tis the season for HAY FEVER! AGHHH!

I love the Spring, I really do! All the sunshine and flowers... BUT, the only problem is that the hay fever season is upon us once again. The Hub was sneezing a fair bit on Sunday. I'm blaming it on the forsythia near the back door - so that'll be one plant that won't be making it into our garden when we move to our new house!! It's a bit if a shame though, as it has such a lovely brightening effect in the springtime... however, needs must!! For the same reason, although I love it, there won't be any wisteria either.

Forsythia can add such a lovely cheerful colour to the garden.

I was affected yesterday - I could feel my nasal passages getting sore. I must say, I was a bit annoyed - I was enjoying the fact that we were getting some sun, at last!!  I had been capitalising on this, by making a real effort to catch up with all my washing. I had also been getting into chillin' with 'Baby'  in the garden - whilst she happily pottered around watering the plants... grass... and weeds! 

'Baby' loves 'watering' the garden.

I have to say, I was also a bit surprised, as I'm not normally affected this early in the year - I'm more of a May/June girl myself - affected by grass, daisies and lime trees. Right now, the most common culprit is Silver Birch, which doesn't usually affect me. However, what with the cold, wet weather we've had, the reckoning is that the pollen is going to be particularly bad for us hay fever sufferers, this Spring, so maybe that's why I'm being affected.

So, if we are affected, what can we do? Well, as yet, there's no cure. I expect you might do something similar, but here's what I do:

1. Don't go out and keep the windows closed. This really goes against the grain when the weather is lovely, but it works... if you can stick to it!! When I was pregnant and unable to take anti-histamine, it was the best bet. That year we invested in an air-conditioning unit and a couple of decent fans. 

If I DO have to open any windows (sometimes you just HAVE to) I close the blinds/curtains as a barrier, to try and minimise pollens entering and use an air filter. I was skeptical about these, but ours (endorsed by Allergy UK) really does seem to help.

2. Hang washing inside the house, rather than out in the garden (we have a de-humidifier to help with this). That way the washing doesn't bring the pollen into the house. Of course if you have a tumble drier, then you can use that instead.

3. If I do go out, I try to do the following:
  • Wear sunglasses to protect my eyes. If my eyes do get affected, I have to really avoid rubbing them. Instead I wash them with water, or something like Optrex. 
  • Tie back long hair to stop pollen getting caught in it and... get ahead - wear a hat!
  • If I'm out without a hat, I might wash my hair when I get home (make sure you cover the heads of your kiddies too).
  • Shop in air-conditioned malls or supermarkets.
  • Change outer clothing (carefully, to avoid shaking the pollen everywhere) as soon as I get home.
  • Avoid routes, when walking, (if possible) that take me past plants which I know are likely to affect me.
  • Avoid going out in the evening (not really much of an option with 'Baby' around anyway), when the pollen, which has risen during the day, drops back to earth with the cooler temperature.
  • If I want to go for a walk, or enjoy being outside (and I'm near enough), I head for a beach - especially when the wind is blowing in off the sea (this was a whole lot easier when I lived near one). Apparently, going out very early in the morning (before 6.00am) or going to the mountains also helps.
  • When driving, I use air-conditioning to cool down the temperature in the car, rather than open the windows.

Other tactics:
  • Take 'Baby' to an indoor play area, rather than the park - pretty soon, our local garden center might see an awful  lot of me, as they have one near their cafe! The great thing about going to indoor play areas in the summer, is that they're practically empty!
  • Visit museums/galleries with air conditioning.
  • If you can (i.e. you're not pregnant/breastfeeding) take a good anti-histamine. I usually opt for Clarityn, as Piriton makes me wheeze. There may be other medication that you can take, but I tend to take as little as possible, if I can possibly help it.
  • It has been said that eating local honey helps, several studies seem to indicate otherwise, as pollens can blow many miles on the winds, but I love honey anyway, so have nothing to lose by eating it anyway!
  • Another tip is to smear Vaseline inside your nose, but I haven't ever done this, as I think the sensation of Vaseline in my nose would drive me to distraction!
  • You can also use eye drops, to help soothe those itchy eyes.
  • Apparently, there are some natural chemicals (found in food) that can also help you to fight the histamines. Read more about it here. Although avoid Butterbar - not that safe at all! (My thanks goes to Hannah for letting me know about that one!)

I have to say, I'm really hoping the 'experts' will be wrong on this year - that the season will not be as bad as we expect, but I hoped that last year and got it wrong. My worst day, last year, was on holiday, when I spent an afternoon near a wildflower meadow, with the wind blowing the pollen straight at me. As I was still breastfeeding, I was unable to take a single anti-histamine and just had to wait for the effects to wear off. 

The good news is that pollen particles are quite heavy. So apparently they fall to the floor within minutes of getting inside. Then it's just a case of keeping on top of vacuuming and wet dusting, to avoid stirring up the pollen again.

What about you? What do you do, to minimise the effects of pollen, when hay fever season is in full swing??


  1. The key to anti histamines is start taking them early before you are affected by hayfever as they need to build up in your body. I'm affected by grass pollen as soon as everyone mows the lawn I have to retreat inside

    1. You're so right, you do need to build the defense barrier, early, the problem is that taking anti-histamine gets pretty expensive!