Hay Fever

Are you miserable? Is it nice outside? Perhaps your miserable because it’s nice outside?
Can you even read this between sneezing and blowing your nose? You likely have hay fever. Hay fever affects roughly 20% of the population, and you’re more prone to it if you have asthma, eczema, or a family history of allergies. Hay fever can affect young children, but oftentimes symptoms are at their worst for people in their thirties or forties. This itchy, sneezy, snot-filled misery that you’re currently experiencing is actually called allergic rhinitis by medical folks, and usually we regular folks call it seasonal allergies. It’s what happens when your body decides to be a spaz and lash out at perfectly harmless substances, such as grass. Allergies can affect people differently, so you really you need to look at what you’re allergic to, how your body reacts to it, and proceed from there with the most fitting treatment among the many options available.

Symptoms can include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Sinus pressure
  • Decreased sense of taste and/or smell
  • Itchy nose, throat, mouth, or eyes
  • Headache
  • Puffy eyes

Causes can include:

  • Pollen from trees, grass, or weeds…or hay
  • Fungi or mold spores
  • Dust mites
  • Animal dander

Best Hay Fever Remedies

If you know what you’re allergic to, avoid it.

Dust mites? Get cleaning. Dogs? Don’t come over to my house. Pollen? If possible, keep the offending plants out of your yard and general living area. Otherwise, you need to learn how to minimize that crap in your house, and you’ll find several helpful suggestions in the sidebar. If you must go outside, try to wait until later in the day, as pollen is usually worse in the early morning hours. Tell your husband that he’s going to have to mow the lawn, or invest in some highly fashionable dust masks.

Antihistamines work well for moderate hay fever symptoms.

There are several options within this category of medicine that work well to reduce sneezing, runny noses, and itching, but not congestion. Much as the name suggests, antihistamines stop the histamine produced by your body during an allergic reaction from creating those symptoms. They won’t help congestion, though, so you’ll need other meds for that. There are lots of OTC antihistamines, and they’re most often in pill form, but you’ll want to be careful with them, as some of them will make you sleepy. You can also get prescription-strength antihistamines from your doctor. You can find antihistamines like Benadryl at Amazon.

Nasal sprays relieve itchy, runny noses.

There are a few sprays out there that contain antihistamines or decongestants, but many of them will have corticosteroids, which reduce inflammation in your nose, making it easier to breathe. Most people will find them effective and side effects aren’t much of a worry, which is why doctors will suggest you try them first. If you’ve got serious mucus issues, you’ll have to get that under control beforehand, as sprays won’t be able to soak in deep enough to be effective with all that crap in the way.

Decongestants will reduce congestion.

Shocking, right? Decongestants come in a variety of medicines, pills, sprays, and syrups, which will loosen up your airways a bit so that you can breathe more regularly. This option is more of a short-term fix, as some decongestants can have negative effects when used for even more than a few days. Pills can cause insomnia, headaches, and increased blood pressure. Nasal sprays containing decongestants can end up backfiring, as your original symptoms might actually get worse if you use them too much.

Immunotherapy trains your body to accept allergens.

A much more aggressive approach, immunotherapy involves introducing allergens to your body and slowly increasing the amount that your body will accept without causing a reaction. This is done with shots, which has given this method the common name of “allergy shots.” It’ll take a minimum of three years to complete therapy, with the frequency of shots decreasing over time. It’s a pretty intense undertaking, but for people suffering from chronic allergic rhinitis, it can seriously improve symptoms without all the pills and sprays.

Best Natural Remedies for Hay Fever

Improve air quality. Keep windows closed and don’t hang laundry outside to dry, to minimize pollen getting inside. Air conditioning, HEPA filters, and dehumidifiers all improve indoor air quality.

Clean. Cleanliness will be key for those with dust or mold allergies. Wood and tile floors are easier to clean and don’t trap allergens like carpet, so you could get some redecorating out of the deal, at least.

Neti pot. An odd sensation if you’re not used to it, but pretty effective. A neti pot is essentially a little teapot that you use to pour water through one nostril and out the other, flushing out all that mucus and gunk instantly. You can find them in drugstores, or get a neti pot from Amazon

Minimize animal dander. The simplest method is to get rid of the animal, but if you have a pet, you probably want to keep it. So keep the house clean, don’t let pets lie on your bedding, and give them frequent baths.

Living with Allergies

Depending on what sets off hay fever for you and how your body reacts to it, getting rid of your symptoms might take some time and trial and error to find what works for you. Instead of actually curing allergic rhinitis, more often what happens is that you learn to manage your symptoms with the many at-home remedies available. Obviously, if you go with the allergy shots you’ll have to see a doctor to get them, but your doctor can also provide you with prescriptions that target your specific symptoms. They’ll be able to offer other options for treatment that I haven’t mentioned yet, too. Asthma medications can relieve symptoms for some individuals, and oral corticosteroids like prednisone are awesome at treating symptoms quickly, but they shouldn’t be taken on a long-term basis. You may have to mix and match some of the remedies listed above, but, as always with health issues, your doctor will be the best source of information on how to manage hay fever.

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About the Author

Jacki Nilssen

Jacki Nilssen