Finally, it seems that summer is just around the corner: time for barbecues, picnics, gardening… and, for one in five Britons, a hefty dose of hayfever.
While you would think that the pollen count might spike in springtime, many of us suffer right through into autumn, because of a number of factors…
The pollen seasons can be broken down into three main phases, according to the Met Office – tree pollen (late March to mid-May), grass pollen (mid-May to July), and weed pollen (end of June to September). When you get a bout of hayfever may depend on which kind of pollen you are allergic to.
Record-breaking high temperatures in 2015, and predictions of even higher ones this year are bad news. Humidity and frequent stormy showers can cause high pollen yields. During these times, wash bedding and clothes more regularly, shower after a day out to keep the pollen off your skin, and keep car windows closed.
Raised temperatures have resulted in the spread of ragweed, an invasive weed originating in North America. With it has come a new type of pollen, which can cause significant hayfever problems.
Nutritionist Sarah Flowers says diet is important to keep your immune system on alert. “It is important to keep your immune system healthy in order to combat allergies that your body is experiencing for the first time, even as an adult,” she says. “You can opt for more natural forms of supplementation to overcome pesky symptoms. I recommend tissue-cell salts such as New Era H, which offer a combination of minerals to target irritants to your mucus membranes.”
A beer garden may be an ideal place to spend a sunny afternoon, but booze can aggravate symptoms. “Alcohol is loaded with histamine, which is known to cause an inflammatory response,” warns Flowers. “Even drinking more than one glass a day can cause problems for perennial sufferers, with wine a particular risk.”
…and the solutions
1) It may seem counterintuitive to brew up a cupful of flowers, but chamomile is a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory. Too much caffeine can aggravate symptoms, so replace your morning coffee with a cup of chamomile tea.
2) One effective method to beat hayfever is to stop the pollen getting to your eyes and nose in the first place. If a beekeeper’s mask doesn’t appeal, try a natural barrier balm such as HayMax, which can be applied safely to the nostrils and around your eyes.
3) Many hayfever sufferers swear by a daily spoonful of local honey, although the evidence of its effectiveness is largely anecdotal. The theory is that the pollen in honey desensitises sufferers.
Try raw, unprocessed honey for the best results.
4) Tissue salts are believed to work at a cellular level to rebalance the body. New Era H (£6.39 for 240 tablets, power health.co.uk) targets irritants and contains added biotin to maintain the health of the tissues lining our noses, throats and eyes.
5) Red-light phototherapy can alleviate sneezing, watery eyes and an itchy mouth. The light is shone up the nose, stimulating blood circulation and reducing histamine production.