Hay fever remedies

Grass in sunshineYou wait and wait for some dry, warm, sunny weather and what do you get when it finally happens? If you're among the one in five people in the UK affected, the answer is hay fever. 

And apparently the pollen count is particularly high this year. Gah. No frolicking outside having fun. Instead, you're cooped up inside with the windows shut.  

Hay fever symptoms

The litany of woe includes sneezing, itchy eyes, itchy nose, itchy throat, itchy ears, blocked nose, runny nose, swollen eyes, sore throat, headache... Some poor souls even get eye blisters. 

 

Pollen season

Tree pollen
- late March to mid-May
Grass pollen - mid-May to July
Weed pollen - end of June to September

In grass pollen season, pollen counts are highest in the first half of the morning and from c4pm to late evening (sometimes all night). In tree pollen season, pollen counts are highest in daylight hours.

Met Office pollen forecast

Hay fever remedies

So what can you do to minimise the pernicious effects of pollen? Your approach needs to be two-fold:

  • Avoid pollen so that your symptoms aren't triggered - know when the pollen count is highest and check your local pollen forecast (see box, right)
  • Minimise your symptoms - the pharmaceutical options are antihistamines, eye drops and nasal sprays. Chop and change until you find the combination that works for you, as everyone reacts differently.

 

Mumsnetters suggest the following hay fever remedies 

  • Try a 24-hour tablet taken at night - it will be at its peak as pollen rises in the morning. HeyMicky
  • Always take your shoes off at your front door to save trailing pollen throughout your house. Undress in the bathroom not the bedroom as pollen clings to clothes. Dust with a damp cloth. ukey
  • Wear sunglasses or glasses when outside if possible. Don't dry your washing outside. Keep windows shut from about 5pm-7pm (basically as it gets dark and cools down pollen falls back to earth). Wash your hair and change your clothes when you get home if you can. Vaseline up the nose traps pollen before it gets into your system GiddyPickle
  • The Vaseline thing really does work - it's the single most effective thing I do. HeyMicky
  • Chlorphenamine has been around the longest and they have vast amounts of data going back 50 years or so showing it is safe during pregancy. NoWayNoHow
  • The thing I swear by is the Medinose. Basically it works by inserting two probes into the nostrils and switching on for about five minutes. The probes emit a red light at a frequency that desensitises the nose to help it not react to the pollen. mumat39
  • I used the electric rods up the nose jobby. They work a TREAT. LadyOfTheManor
  • When I was pregnant I used an allergy light. It uses light therapy to help you stop the amount of histamine produced. bobster64
  • A balm called Haymax that you rub onto the nostrils is supposed to stop pollen getting into your nose. mumat39
  • Natural Bee Pollen! Taken daily it will stop hay fever symptoms and give you an energy boost. Our family swear by it. katebcooper
  • I find drinking rosehip tea (very high in vitamin C) really works when I'm having a bad hay fever day. butterfingerz
  • Cover your bed with a spare sheet, especially the pillows. A lot of pollen lands on bedlinen during the day, especially if you have the windows open. I do this every morning, with a clean sheet every day. It made my hay fever much better during the night. R2PeePoo

Stuff that works for sinusitis can help to relieve hay fever congestion.

  • Get thee to eBay for a neti pot. Bucharest
  • Look up NeilMed sinus rinse on YouTube - I had tried literally everything else but this was a revelation. bubble2bubble
  • One of the inflammatory mediators causing hay fever are Leukotrienes, a bit like histamine. They can be blocked with a drug called Singulair, or Montelukast to give it its real name. Ask your GP to prescribe it, it may well revolutionise your life and your future summers. Start early, so maybe a month before you get symptoms, as once your system is 'primed' by inflammatory mediators, it's very hard to dampen them down. DystopianReality

 

Hay fever while you're pregnant or breastfeeding

If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, you'll need to check with your GP or midwife before you take over-the-counter remedies or relievers.

NHS Choices says loratadine, chlorphenamine and ceterizine are considered the safest antihistamines to use during pregnancy, but always check with your doctor before taking oral antihistamines. Eye drops and nasal sprays should be used with caution.

Most antihistamines will pass into your breastmilk, as will minute quantities of nasal sprays. Some lucky women find their hay fever symptoms decline or vanish when they're pregnant. 

If your children are teeny, again you're going to need to involve your GP because some antihistamines aren't suitable for children under two. As always, it's best to check first.

See Mumsnetters' suggestions for hay fever remedies when pregnant.

 

Last updated: 23-Jun-2014 at 10:43 AM