Spring marks the beginning of bright blue skies and the return of all things great and small, it also means flowers are in full bloom and fresh-cut grass. Sounds lovely to the average person, but for a hay fever sufferer, it’s the start of a battle that can last long into the autumn months. So you’ve learnt about the best natural hay fever remedies from our last blog post. And to carry on the theme of practical advice for pollen-ophobes we’ve come up with this list of the best tips to pollen-proof your home.
But in scientific terms, what is hay fever?
Hay fever is a common condition, which the NHS claims affects 20% of people in the UK at least once in their life. It is induced by an over exposure to pollen that triggers your immune system to release a chemical called histamine, which causes a runny or blocked nose, itchy eyes and sneezing. And therefore you can see the link to anti-histamine drugs, which many people take as a preventative measure.
There are a variety of pollens that affect people in different ways:
- Tree pollens – yew, elm, birch, oak, pine, willow etc.
- Grass pollens – there is only one type (poaceae)
- Weed pollens – dock, nettle, oilseed rape etc.
Here’s a pollen calendar from the Met Office to help understand what may set your hay fever off and what pollen affects you the most:
Pollen travels in air particles and gets carried by the wind in most cases, but sometimes by animals like bees, flies and butterflies. As it’s airborne, it’s quite hard to stop pollen coming into your home, but there are some ingenious ways you can limit the amount of pollen passing into your house.
Pollen-proofing your home
- Use a vacuum with double bags or a HEPA filter
- Avoid buying upholstered furniture, as allergens get trapped in the fabric. Instead, try using leather, wood or vinyl furniture which can be wiped clean
- At risk of stating the obvious, keep your windows closed, and instead of using fans for ventilation consider installing air conditioning (but as this is an expensive option, only the worst hay fever sufferers should consider this)
- Carpeted flooring traps dust and particles, instead opt for hardwood flooring like laminate or tiling. If not having a carpet isn’t an option, then be vigilant with vacuuming and do it at least once a week.
- Cover your mattresses and pillows with allergen-proof covers or hypoallergenic pillows and duvets
- Opt for window shades or washable curtains over dust-collecting blinds
- Try your best to keep the house dry, as damp can cause mould and this can trigger allergy symptoms
Extra considerations you may not have thought of
It turns out that Alcohol contains the chemical histamine, which, as we know, sets off an allergic reaction in hay fever sufferers. Therefore, if you notice a peak in your allergies when consuming that nice cold cider this summer, then perhaps consider changing it for an apple juice if you don’t want to suffer.
There are also plenty of histamine-rich foods too which may induce your allergies such as; fermented foods like vinegar, yoghurt, soy sauce and soured foods like sour cream or sour dough, aged cheese like goats cheese and smoked fish like mackerel, anchovies and sardines. These foods are not 100% attributed to hay fever or allergies, but it may be worth keeping an eye on your allergies after consuming these foods and taking note of any reactions. It may be that you have a slight histamine intolerance.
Staying vigilant with what triggers your hay fever is essential. So if your allergies truly bother you, then we suggest keeping a diary throughout the summer to track things like the pollen count, this is published daily on the met office site, whether you came close to certain types of pollen that day i.e. neighbours mowing their lawn. Also score how bad your reactions are on a scale of 1 -1 0. You may be able to notice a pattern that your reactions are worse in certain times of the year and when you do certain things.