How to Manage Hay Fever
Published June 10, 2021
What is hay fever?
Put simply; hay fever is an immune reaction to inhaled allergens that causes inflammation. It’s an allergy to airborne particles like pollen, dust, mould, feathers and animal dander (skin cells). Almost 20 per cent of Australians suffer from hay fever at some point throughout the year. Hay fever can interfere with work, school and sleep, impacting your quality of life.
How you respond to airborne allergens can largely depend on your genes. In hay fever sufferers, their immune system responds within minutes to an allergen, releasing immune mediators, including histamine. Histamine causes sneezing and a runny nose while other mediators cause nasal congestion. In people with long-standing hay fever hyperresponsiveness can develop; where the nasal mucosa becomes hyperactive to normal stimuli — such as cigarette smoke or cold air — causing sneezing, and a runny, itchy nose.
Hay fever symptoms
Hay fever symptoms include:
- Sneezing and coughing
- Itchy, runny and stuffy nose and impaired smell
- Itchy roof of mouth and back of the throat
- Red, itchy and watery eyes
- Itchy or sore throat
- Fatigue and irritability.
For most of us, minimizing the symptoms is an ongoing challenge. And unlike a cold, hay fever can last for many weeks.
How to manage hay fever
Avoiding triggers where you can, especially with seasonal allergies, is encouraged.
Exposure to pollen is usually worse in the morning and on hot, dry, windy days. When pollen levels are high stay indoors with your windows closed. Pollen may stick to clothes dried outdoors, so dry them indoors on breezy spring days and wash your hair before you go to bed. Keep your lawn cut short or replace your lawn with a groundcover that doesn’t produce pollen.
Avoid pet dander and dust mites
For pet dander and dust mite allergies use allergen-impermeable bed covers, wash sheets in hot water and use a vacuum cleaner with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. Wash your pet and their bedding frequently to reduce dander.
Keep your air clean
Modern-day pollution and chemicals can also exacerbate hay fever symptoms. Avoid chemical air fresheners, tobacco smoke, bleach, car exhaust fumes, polishes, cleaning fluids, fresh paint and detergents. Investing in an air purifier can help reduce symptoms.
Natural ingredients for hay fever symptoms
Horseradish is traditionally used in western herbal medicine as an expectorant to help clear respiratory tract mucous.
Garlic — supports immune system function and relieves symptoms of mild upper respiratory tract infections. Garlic is used in traditional western herbal medicine to relieve nasal congestion, cough, and symptoms of the common cold.
Fenugreek is used in traditional western herbal medicine to reduce excess mucous and as a demulcent to sooth irritated tissues.
Marshmallow is used in traditional western herbal medicine to soothe an irritated throat.
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