Surviving Hayfever Season

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Anyone who’s met me will know that I suffer from hay fever, and anyone who knows me well will know the misery it has caused and sometimes still continues to cause. I developed it suddenly when I was a teenager and it’s been the bane of my summers ever since, and it’s something that I’ve only just started to get under control in the past couple of years after it finally forced me to take time off work because I just couldn’t cope anymore.  (Sinus infections and bulging eyes from constant streams of mucus aren’t fun.)  That’s all part of the joy of hay fever; it can feel just as bad as flu to people who really suffer from it badly, but when you tell most others that you have it, all they think is ‘oh you have the sniffles, that sucks’.

So, in the spirit of the snotty grass allergy season, I thought I’d write a post about some of the tips and tricks I use to get through the summer months.

The first and most obvious tip is to take some kind of medication for it, but if you really struggle with your hay fever then you also need to make sure that the various medicines you use are combating all of your symptoms. A lot of people think that popping a Benadryl will be enough to ease all of the issues hay fever can bring about, but if you get it particularly badly, you might want to consider a more well-rounded approach and use multiple products to target symptoms individually, too. Most days I take cetirizine, a drug you can get at your local Boots or online, as well as fexofenadine which is a prescription drug that, from what I gathered, tends to only be dished out to folks like me who literally nothing else was powerful enough for (and boy did it help). If drugstore pills don’t do the trick, try visiting your GP and see what they can recommend!

 As well as these, I use eye drops for my itchy, dry eyes and nasal spray to ease my sneezing and itchy throat.  In addition to nasal sprays like Beconase (pictured) that tackle and improve your symptoms, I also recommend investing in a bottle of salt spray like Sterimar (also pictured). Although they advertise themselves as good for allergies I don’t know that that’s necessarily true, but what I do know is that they’re actually great for clearing out my nasal passages after a tough day out breathing in pollen. Basically, I use the salt spray to wash out some of the pollen still stuck in my nose, and then use the Beconase spray to sort out the symptoms. That way, my nose doesn’t continue to get irritated by the same crap that’s been stuck up there all day and the medicated spray can better do its job!

Eye drops aren’t the only trick for easing irritated eyes; it seems simple enough, but wearing glasses or sunglasses of some kind when you’re outside can also lend a hand at protecting your eyes. Glasses – particularly those with big frames, or sunglasses that wrap around your face a bit like goggles (I have no idea what to call that style…) – help to shield your eyes from the pollen in the air. It isn’t a cure and it doesn’t always make much of a difference on really high pollen count days, but particularly when it’s windy and pollen is essentially being blown straight into all of your facial orifices, it sometimes helps eyes to be less sore and dry than usual. Oh, and it goes without saying, but avoid contact lenses or any flaky mascaras, because if your eyes are already irritated then these will only make it ten times worse.



One little beauty that not many folks might be aware of is the nasal filter. I got mine on Amazon, and in a nutshell, these are little screens that you stick in your nose that prevent pollen from being inhaled and causing excess snot and sneezing fits. They come in different brands and sizes, and usually have a clear plastic connector that – although visible – is barely noticeable and at worst just looks like you’re wearing a small, clear or flesh-coloured septum ring. They can be tricky to get used to and when I first started to use one, I found it only irritated my nose more and then made it difficult to blow my nose, but I soon got the hang of it.

 I don’t wear mine all the time, but I find it particularly useful for making sure I don’t get exposed to loads of pollen and end up a disgusting, miserable mess before I get to a destination. When I used to be outdoors for much of my commute to work, I would wear it for the journey and then remove it once I got to the office and it made such a difference because my nose simply wasn’t being bombarded with pollen that would make my symptoms flare up and then irritate me for the rest of the day. Cleaning my nasal filter is also as simple as running it under cold water and gently rubbing the filters.


My last tip is to use some kind of pollen tracking app! There are a few available and many weather apps also include a pollen count, but my favourite so far has been the Clarityn pollen forecast and tracker. As well as telling you the weather, temperature and what the pollen forecast is, it also says what type of pollen is most prevalent at the moment (I’m allergic to grass pollen, but later in the summer and early autumn tree pollen can be a nightmare for other sufferers), and it allows you to log how your symptoms felt each day so you can produce your own graph and track how you react throughout the seasons.  This helps you to learn your body’s reactions and to predict when you might feel better or worse, and once you’ve worked that out it makes it much easier to prepare for the next year of hay fever.

As awful as it might sound, even with all of these tricks I do recommend planning any outdoor activities around the pollen count and the weather if you suffer to the extent that I do. On High and Very High days, I try to avoid going out unless it’s absolutely necessary, and it’s those days that I make sure I’m using my entire arsenal of anti-hay fever weapons. Save your days out or afternoons when you open all of your windows at home for lower pollen days, or even for when it’s raining. It might not be the most fun going out in the rain or after a storm, but it helps to temporarily wash away the pollen so you can actually enjoy the fresh air instead of fear it (but it does usually peak again the day after a shower).

My hay fever used to completely ruin my summer. I’ve spent many days in bed or on the sofa covered in my own mucus with tissues stuffed up my nose and sore ribs from sneezing incessantly, and other people don’t often realise quite how badly it can impact your quality of life. I feel worse when I have bad hay fever than I ever have with a regular fever or a cold or a stomach bug, and worse still because it isn’t recognised as something that ‘should’ stop me from doing things and having fun.

I have a better handle on it now though, and I’ve learned to work around the pollen counts and predict them based on the weather, as well as learning to work with my own body and its reactions. My summer still isn’t the dreamy time that everyone else’s is and I can’t go for picnics on freshly cut grass, but it’s a hell of a lot better than it used to be!

If you’re a victim of the evils of pollen too, I hope you found this post helpful. Let me know in the comments if you have any tips of your own!

5 comments

  1. That nasal filter is such a cool little idea! I suffer from Hayfever but it's strange...this year it's been a bit all over the place!

    Meg | Elmpetra

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    1. Isn't it? I had never heard of it before until a couple of years ago when I was researching other options out of desperation! Weird, I know the weather can affect it a lot so maybe it's that? I hope it gets better for you in any case!

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  2. I always get terrible hay fever and although I've been doing the whole tablet/nasal spray/eye drops combination for years and years now, I've never come across a nasal filter. It sounds like it helps a lot though, so I'm definitely going to look into getting one! xx

    Toasty

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    1. If you get one I hope it helps you! I know I can't wear mine for very long as after a while it does start to irritate my nose a bit (and they do make it really difficult to wipe/blow your nose if you're still snotty) but as an extra precaution when you have to go outside to get somewhere it's been a lifesaver. :)

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  3. Thomas Stuart trevaskiss.1st 016. I have suffered with hay fever probalems since I was 16.which was triggered off by my allergy to chloride in school swimming pool.in the late 1970s .when I was forced to swim.ever since then ive had serious probalems with hay fever.ive use many brands of nasal spray and antihistamine tablets.including natural homeopathy medicines. Benedryl seems to be the best out of all hay fever tablets to relieve it.as is olbas oil nasal spray.but obviously I'm looking to more long term options.

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