We reveal the expert hacks to keep the allergies away for good and save your summer
Streaming eyes? Runny nose? Itchy throat? We’ve all been there. With three billion sufferers worldwide and one in four of us in the UK now experiencing the symptoms of summer allergies each year, numbers are on the rise. We’re here to help though! Keep your symptoms in check with these everyday fixes, hacks and products to take control and reclaim your summer.
It might sound simple but taking steps to lessen your exposure can prove invaluable, and help you prepare for a potential appearance of symptoms. Dr Simon Latham from Push Doctor agrees: “Simply watching the weather forecast means you can keep an eye on whether pollen is out in force that day. Local news websites can help with this too – if pollen is high and you are able to, you can stay indoors. Keeping the windows closed is another tactic to try. If the pollen is unable to get to you then the hay fever won’t flare up. Investing in a good quality fan or air conditioning system is useful if you’re doing this on a hot day!
“Having said that, it is possible for pollen to get in without you knowing. You can help combat this by changing your clothes as soon as you get home. This means that any pollen that has stuck to you during the day will disappear. Making a change to dry your clothes indoors on a clothes horse rather than outside on a line will also stop fresh pollen landing on them while they dry. If you don’t have the space to do this, try to avoid putting clothes out to dry first thing in the morning or in the evening as that is when pollen levels are highest.”
The key could simply be a case of consuming the right foods, as nutritionist Rosie Millen points out: “Managing allergies is all down to the immune system. Eating a diet that is antiinflammatory is recommended. So, for example, avoiding foods that cause inflammation, such as sugar, alcohol and possibly gluten, and eating foods that are naturally anti-inflammatory such as oily fish like salmon, tuna and trout.
“It might also be an idea to increase foods which are high in vitamin C, such as kiwis, blueberries, carrots and oranges, in order to support the immune system further. Ginger and turmeric have wonderful anti-inflammatory properties so it’s a good idea to use these in meals where you can. “I would also suggest trying quercetin supplements as these have demonstrated anti-histamine properties and can help keep symptoms at bay.” Try Holland & Barrett Quercetin + C 50 Caplets (£9.99, hollandandbarrett.com).
The obsession with houseplants has really taken over in recent months, as Ron Ro (getawair.co.uk) points out: “Plants are a great, healthy way to add colour and lift our homes and workplaces. From keeping humidity in check to clearing the air of harmful chemicals, the benefits are endless.
“However, there are a number of houseplants which can trigger allergies and other irritations. Ficus and African violet actually trap indoor dust and should be avoided by those who are allergic to it. Male palms are also notorious for producing large amounts of pollens so be sure to introduce a female palm if you suffer from hay fever.”
You can now see for yourself the allergy hot spots thanks to a digitised map which launched last year. The highly-detailed creations show the location of key plants and trees known to produce pollen that triggers allergies and asthma across the UK. Produced by the University of Exeter in collaboration with the Met office last year, they can help show sufferers hot spots to avoid during peak pollen season. Dr Nicholas Osborne, an epidemiologist and toxicologist, thinks the maps can contribute to ongoing research. He told The Guardian, “The aim is to determine when exactly plants pollinate so we can have better warnings and therefore manage allergy conditions in a more efficient way.” If you’d like to view the maps yourself, you can download them by searching for ‘allergenic pollen’ at sciencedirect.com
Sometimes the herbal way is the best way, and a cup of tea really can solve everything – or so many believe. “Stinging nettle is one of the best herbs for treating hay fever and other allergy symptoms.” says Henriette Kress in her book, Practical Herbs 1 & 2 (£19.99, Aeon Books). Not only can this help to ease symptoms but it can also raise your tolerance for such irritants if used regularly between spring and autumn.
Henriette has another remedy too,“You could also try the herb beggarticks, another hay fever hero which soothes mucous membranes and, combined with nettle tea, can make a big difference to your allergy suffering.”
Investing in an air purifier could prove a worthwhile spend for this summer and beyond. As well as removing dust and other particles, it can make all the difference in the fight against pollen in your home. Dr Rob Hicks, author of Beat Your Allergies (£12.99, Infinite Ideas) agrees: “Tree and grass pollen, and mould spores, can cling to your clothes, your hair, and to your pet’s fur. It’s easy to transfer these into the indoor environment as you or your pet move from room to room.
“Removing any airborne allergens such as pet dander and pollen may help reduce the risk of an asthma attack or a flare-up of an allergy, so an air purifier that filters these allergens from the home environment can be a useful addition to your allergy-controlling armoury.”
It’s important to choose the right one to guarantee a high success rate though, so make sure you do your research before committing.
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