As Aussies try to make the most out of the warmer weather, for some people, the summer kayaking, hiking, and camping fun could be disrupted by itchy eyes and a runny nose. The pollen forecast has warned of a high pollen count in certain areas of Australia in these couple of weeks.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2017-2018 more than 4.6 million Aussies had hay fever, with more developing it every year. You can experience it any age, even if you’ve never previously shown signs of it. Common symptoms include a runny nose and eyes, itchiness, sneezing, feeling run down and bunged up, all of which can be easily mistaken for a common cold. However, if you have an itchy throat, nose and eyes, it’s more likely that you have hay fever.
To make sure the pollen doesn’t ruin your summer fun, here are the most popular remedies to treat it.
Start With Antihistamines
For the majority of hay fever sufferers, the first line of defence is antihistamines. This remedy works by blocking the action of histamine, which is one of the compounds that cause allergic reactions. Antihistamines are available as nasal sprays or tablets that can be bought in pharmacies without a prescription. When the symptoms are mild, it might be enough to take hayfever allergy tablets. When it comes to when is the best time to take hay fever tablets, it’s generally when you notice the symptoms. But you can also consider taking hay fever tablets as a preventative measure on days when the pollen count is high.
You may have heard that antihistamines are not ideal for individuals who need to be alert for driving, working, etc. This applies to older types antihistamines such as chlorphenamine, hydroxyzine and promethazine, which have a reputation for causing drowsiness. The newer antihistamine allergy tablets, such as cetirizine, loratadine and fexofenadine, don’t have this side effect. Your pharmacist will be able to give you advice and further guidance on which tablets are most suitable for you.
Decongestants help relieve the stuffy, blocked-nose symptoms of nasal congestion. They usually provide fast and efficient symptom relief, helping you feel better. They are available as over-the-counter and prescription tablets, liquids and nasal sprays. Over-the-counter oral decongestants include pseudoephedrine (Afrinol, Sudafed) and nasal sprays include phenylephrine hydrochloride (Neo-Synephrine) and oxymetazoline (Afrin).
However, decongestants can cause a number of side effects, including, irritability, insomnia, headaches and increased blood pressure. Pharmacists recommend using a decongestant for no more than two or three days a time. Otherwise, it can actually worsen symptoms if used continuously.
Allergy shots are known to help reduce sensitivity to the triggers that set off your allergies. The therapy involves injecting small and increasing amounts of allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions) over regular intervals. This typically involves getting weekly injections with increasing doses for three to six months and then monthly shots for three to five years. This treatment is considered effective for seasonal allergies that cause nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy and swollen eyes. The downside of this treatment is the risk of potentially serious allergic reaction from the shot itself.
How to Prevent Hay Fever Without Tablets?
Aside from the over-the-counter remedies, there are several vitamins and mineral found in foods that can help to manage hay fever symptoms. Some of them may be already around the house, hiding in the kitchen cupboards. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
The reason that makes honey a natural remedy for hay fevers is the bee pollen content that can desensitise your body to other pollens. Take it daily before hay fever season starts.
Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine that can be found in oranges, lemons and grapefruit. There are also the bioflavonoids, which have powerful anti-allergy effects. Together, bioflavonoids and vitamin C provide a natural decongestant and antihistamine for suffers, helping alleviate the hay fever symptoms. Note that your body can’t make or store vitamin C, so you have to take it in low, consistent doses to support your nasal lining. In addition to oranges, lemons and grapefruit you can also take a Vitamin C supplement. Take 1,000 mg of vitamin C a day.
Capsaicin, the active component in red and chilli peppers are known to help opens the nasal passages, helping to reduce congestion. Add red and chilli pepper to your daily diet, on salads or cooked with your evening meals. Here are some recipes that include red peppers for you to try.
Eating more garlic can help boost your body’s immune system, while also acting as a decongestant and helping to alleviate minor hay fever symptoms. Garlic is also an anti-inflammatory and a good source of quercetin, which is a natural antihistamine. You can take garlic with meals a couple of months before the hay season starts, but it is most effective when consumed crushed or raw. If you can’t eat garlic with meals or raw, try garlic capsules sold on pharmacies.