Updated 25 May 2017

Hay fever: take the sting out of spring

Springtime is hay fever time. Thankfully, common sense and some natural remedies can go a long way to make life a bit more bearable.

Springtime is hay fever time. As beautiful as this season may be with its abundance of colour and fragrance, it also spells misery for many people. According to research nearly 50% of all people who suffer from allergies also have hay fever.

If hay fever is the bane of your life, you will know the unpleasant symptoms of itchy eyes, a runny or blocked nose, headaches and constant sneezing all too well.

Thankfully modern medicine provides us with nasal sprays, anti-histamines and even cortisone injections for worst-case scenarios.

However, medicine isn't always the answer.

Common sense and some natural remedies can go a long way to make life a bit more bearable.

Here are some helpful tips:

 - It's good to know that the pollen count tends to be highest from early morning to mid-morning. So if you want to spend time in the outdoors, rather do it in the late afternoon. The pollen count also tends to be generally higher on sunny days than on rainy days.

 - Wear wrap-around sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes and put some Vaseline on the inside of your nostrils to reduce the amount of pollen that gets into your nose.

 - Once you've been outside, take a shower and wash your hair to get rid of the pollen.

 - Don't dry washing outside - pollen may get trapped in the fibre of your clothes and bed linen.

 - When at home, keep doors and windows closed.

 - Take a spoonful of locally-produced honey every day. It helps to build up your immunity to pollen in your area.

 - Up your intake of Vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus fruits, strawberries, guavas, kiwi fruit, broccoli and red peppers. Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory.

 - Springtime is also a good excuse to eat lots of sweet pineapple as it's rich in bromelain, an enzyme that has strong anti-inflammatory properties.

 - If you like your herbs and spices, go wild with turmeric, ginger and garlic. Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been found to have anti-allergy properties that inhibit the release of histamine. Ginger is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory that helps reduce nasal swelling and hay fever symptoms. Garlic is a good source of quercetin, a natural anti-histamine, and can also help prevent secondary respiratory infections such as sinusitis, thanks to its strong antibiotic properties.

 - Pour yourself soothing cups of green tea or camomile tea. Green tea contains powerful antioxidants that help maintain a healthy immune system and reduce inflammation, whereas camomile tea contains essential oils that reduce inflammation and calm allergic reactions.

 - Most importantly of all, don't lose your sense of humour. Soon summer will be here and your seasonal allergic rhinitis a thing of the past.


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Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies.

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