Sniffly season is upon us and in the last seven days Google searches for 'hay fever itchy eyes‘ soared by 300 per cent, while searches for ‘treatment for severe hay fever’ have risen by 250 per cent. Lloyds Pharmacy has seen a surge in people buying hay fever remedies too; its Hayfever and Allergy Relief Tablets sales have increased by 87 per cent in the last week, while its Allergy & Hayfever Eye Drops have seen sales increase by 174 per cent over the past seven days.
Anyone who experiences hay fever will know that the symptoms can feel as bad as flu, often driving them indoors and stopping them from socialising outside (particularly relevant this year, when outside is the only place we can meet large groups of friends!)
Far from simply itchy eyes and a tickly throat, hay fever can seriously impact our lives. A 2006 study from the charity Education for Heath reported that students with hay fever were 40 per cent more likely to drop a grade between their mock and final exams if they were suffering from hay fever, while many women worry about the incontinence issue that goes hand in hand with sneezing .
If you suffer with hay fever it's likely you've tried many a remedy, often to no avail, but when you do find one that relieves your symptoms it can be life-changing. Here four sufferers share what's made a difference to them and helped them manage their hay fever.
"Putting Vaseline around my nose and drying my clothes inside helped soothe my hay fever," - Dr Alia Ahmed, consultant dermatologist"
"I'm 38 now and have suffered with hay fever since my teenage years. It was so bad that I often had nose bleeds and very high fevers. It sometimes stopped me from going to school. In exams I struggled because of my initials (AA) I was always at the front of the hall and it would be summer, so the windows and doors would be open. I would spend most of the time blowing my nose and would run out of tissues. It was not a good time for me.
"I tried lots of different antihistamines, there was a lot of trial and error before I found a remedy that worked for me."
My hay fever cure
"A combination of tried and tested hacks and antihistamines work for me. I use prescribed antihistamine Cetirizine with an over the counter steroid nasal spray Flixonase. Adding Vaseline around and in the nose also stops pollen going in and if my eyes do swell up, I use cool gel packs and artificial eye drops so take down the puffiness.
"I make an effort to stop pollen entering my work and living space where possible. For instance, I don’t dry my clothes outside when there's a high pollen count to stop the pollen from sticking to them. Limiting exposure and trapping the pollen (with the Vaseline) before it enters the body is very important. This combined with the antihistamine products and nasal sprays helps minimise the effects of pollen that does get me."
Make an appointment with Dr Alia Ahmed at www.getharley.com
"Detoxing and cutting out dairy and sugar cured my hay fever" – Ruben Tabares, sports performance expert and nutritionist
“I suffered from terrible hay fever for a couple of years. It would hit me in April and May when the flowers came out and I would get an actual fever. I’d shake and feel like I had the flu. The worse thing about it was the itching at the back of my throat, nose and especially the eyes. I feared going outside and anti-histamines seemed to make it worse.
My hay fever remedy
“I finally cured my hay fever with a few different elements. Firstly, by following the 10 Day Detox from The Organic Pharmacy , £99.95, a programme to help gradually and gently cleanse and replenish the body with essential nutrients. I normally detox twice a year, once in September and again at the beginning of March before hay fever starts. If you are allergic to tree pollen then it would be prudent to start your detox in January.
"Detoxing alone does not cure my hay fever, but it does help me to live hay fever-free. Being allergic to pollen I quickly found that wheat, dairy and sugar made my hay fever worse so I also cut these out during hay fever season, but from September to January I do indulge in wheat and a little dairy in the form of cheese. In addition, I make sure to drink five litres of water a day, go to bed before 10 pm and try to reduce my stress levels.
Why it worked
“I know now that toxins play an integral part in how your body handles allergies, disease and therefore how healthy you are. Changing the number of toxins coming into my body by switching to organic toothpaste, skincare products and even the detergents I wash my clothes in has given me complete freedom from hay fever. I feel incredible, no matter what time of the year it is.
“Increasing the amount of water I drink to five litres per day and cutting out wheat, dairy and sugar and adding things such as the algae chlorella to my diet keeps me hay fever-free. I use The Organic Pharmacy Hay Fever Relief Kit , £45, in addition to detoxing to keep symptoms away. It has a selection of supplements to fight hay fever, is also a favourite of mine.”
Ruben works in partnership with The Organic Pharmacy. Follow him on Instagram
"Prescription antihistamines really made a difference" – Aimee Victoria Long, personal trainer
“I had hay fever from May to September for as long as I could remember, even as a child. I used eye drops, tablets and nasal spray to try and relieve my symptoms. When it was at its worse, rather than just getting a runny nose and itching eyes, I felt feel incredibly run down, almost as though I had flu symptoms. It stopped me from training outside and I avoided barbecues and picnics at the height of the pollen count.
“Optivar prescription eye drops relieved my eyes for a short amount of time, but they didn't do much long-term. I also used the Dymista, a prescription nasal spray that did work but it was a horrible sensation spritzing up my nose especially if you’re using it several times a day as I was.
My hay fever cure
“My doctor prescribed me a daily antihistamine, Fexofenadine, which is a higher dose than available over the counter, plus this combined with the nose spray seems to keep the symptoms at bay.”
Follow Aimee Victoria Long on Instagram
"Two sessions of Indian acupuncture made my hay fever symptoms disappear" – Dr Nitasha Buldeo, Founder of Organic Apoteke and acupuncturist
"I quite suddenly developed hay fever in my late twenties. It was initially triggered by the rape fields in flower in late summer, but the following year my symptoms began in spring. After that, I struggled with symptoms annually for about ten years.
“My symptoms were severe; I had itchy eyes, ear canal and throat and constant sneezing. It made me feel irritable, moody and tired. When the pollen count was high I was unable to go outdoors. I am a runner and love doing yoga outdoors, so the hay fever had a real impact on my routine.
“I tried homoeopathic remedies initially. One that worked well for me was kali bichromium from Ainsworths Homeopathic Pharmacy in a six times potency. But I had to use this remedy daily. When pollen counts were high, I used it multiple times per day. If I missed a dose the symptoms reappeared. I also tried traditional acupuncture, as it's a brilliant treatment for many conditions, but not hay fever.”
My hay fever cure
“I tried marmapuncture which is the Indian style of acupuncture [where needles are placed at certain points of the body and left for 20 minutes to restore the internal balance of the body]. It uses fewer needles than traditional acupuncture. I first came across it in India and had it done there. After two treatments, my hay fever symptoms completely disappeared. I was hay fever-free for the entire year.
"What surprised me most was that the next spring I had no hay fever symptoms. For the last eight years, I've had a marmapuncture treatment for hay fever once per year in early spring to prevent hay fever coming on. I have been so impressed with how effective marmapuncture is that I trained in the field and offer it to my acupuncture clients. I currently self-administer my treatments for hay fever, but if I am unable to treat myself I go to Dr Shanta Godagama at the Hale Clinic in London.
“Hay fever is an immune response. It’s your body’s way of dealing with an irritant. Marmapuncture works because it helps balance the body’s energy (prana) system and immune response."
Learn more about Organic Apoteke
Dr Nitasha offers marmapuncture at her clinics in London and Bedfordshire, for between £40 and £60. Visit www.nitashabuldeo.com for appointments.
"Washing my hair before bed and using anti-allergy bedding helps me," – Rob Hobson, registered nutritionist
"Every spring you’ll find me sniffling. From March onwards, my sinuses are always inflamed and swollen. I’m always apologising when I’m sniffing in meetings. It’s hard to feel clear-headed when you have a presentation or a meeting but sleep is tricky when you struggle to breathe through your nose. I often wake up in the night with a dry mouth. I’m sure pollution levels have made it worse in recent years – our respiratory systems are even more overloaded. I wouldn’t say I’ve cured my hay fever but I have some key tools that help me and I’m really strict about using them."
My hay fever remedies
"My head won’t hit the pillow until I have washed my hair and beard. Pollen can become trapped in your hair and on your clothes and you don’t want that around your face at night. I have anti-allergy duvets and pillows from John Lewis – anything that reduces the allergy load while you sleep is a bonus. I change my sheets twice a week anyway as part of my sleep hygiene routine.
"During the day, I’ll always wear sunglasses without fail as a physical barrier against pollen and I love a balm that you put under your nose that traps the pollen. Haymax , £6.99, is a budget one I like to inhale a few drops of De Mamiel Altitude Oil , £30, which is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral (it was made for air travel, but it great for hay fever) unblocks your nose and smells divine. You can put it on the inside of your face mask too.
"If my nose is red and inflamed I’ll use De Mamiel Skin Recovery Blend , £95, which soothes inflamed skin.
"I also carry Moisturising Eye Drops , £9.98 and Pollinosan Nasal Spray , £8, with me by A Vogel. At home, I keep eye drops in the fridge which makes them especially soothing in summer. Anti-histamines are a no brainer for me when things get bad.
"I do like to have the window open – often it’s just not possible in summer to keep it closed so this year I’m investing in Dyson Pure Cool , £399.99, which is both a cooler and an air purifier that removes even tiny particles. Expensive yes, but if you suffer from airborne allergies and have difficulty sleeping as I do it’s a good investment."
Rob Hobson is author of The Art of Sleeping
If you're suffering from hay fever now, here's how Chinese medicine expert Katie Brindle recommends treating the condition.
“I have successfully treated many people for hay fever, including my dad! In Chinese medicine, we recognise hay fever as a weakness of the lungs and digestive system. Both these organs are responsible for a strong immune system in different ways. If you strengthen these organs (the root cause of the problem) you will, in turn, boost your immunity, alleviating the symptoms of hay fever.
"The hay fever symptoms are your body trying to push the excessive allergens out. It’s a warning sign that your body needs help at a deeper level. The best possible approach is to treat the root cause and the symptoms simultaneously.
1. Reduce stress
When you're stressed your immune system is compromised. On top of this, the pollen count is higher in spring/summer which can also make the immune system overwhelmed or stressed with excess allergens.
"During the summer months, the allergens in the environment are greater and the temperature is warmer. This means there is more strain on the respiratory and immune systems and the daily stresses of everyday life only exacerbate this problem," Katie says. Lowering your stress levels should help alleviate symptoms.
2. Hold a cold gua sha stone to your face
“To help alleviate hayfever symptoms, a crystal gua sha tool works really well," says Katie. "Use it to cool the areas affected by hay fever. Simply hold it next to the nose and over the sinuses. The stone literally draws the heat out. Cool in ice-cold water and repeat. Hold the cold stone over the eye area to soothe itchy eyes. Press-stroke the sinuses and affected areas to help clear them."
3. Give body tapping a try
The stresses caused by hay fever can disrupt the circulation in the body. To get your circulation moving again try body tapping. "In as little as one minute a day, an all-over body tap can clear areas of stagnation and support lymphatic drainage," Katie says.
4. Or try shaking
Shaking invigorates the circulation, wakes up the muscles and clears out any stagnation, says Katie. She advises shaking out your whole body, top to bottom.
MORE GLOSS: The embarrassing reason why a third of women dread hayfever season