Remedies for hay fever: tips for the effective treatment of a pollen allergy
After the beginning of spring, many look forward to the mild weather. But for others, the flowering time is a major challenge: flowers, trees and shrubs secrete pollen, which can trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive people. Hay fever is one of the most common allergies in Europe. The number of allergy sufferers has doubled nationwide in the last few decades. Today, the seasonal pollen allergy has been diagnosed in around 15% of Germany’s population. Those affected suffer from itchy eyes, a runny nose and a burning sensation on the roof of the mouth. Under certain circumstances, hay fever can lead to complications such as allergic asthma. The first symptoms are felt from April and cause discomfort until the end of September. Due to the rather long period of pollen flow and the increasing number of allergy sufferers, it is very important to treat the allergy effectively. We have summarized several ideas for effective remedies against hay fever and explain what is involved in treating a pollen allergy.
What is a pollen allergy and what are the triggers
Hay fever is a collective term used to describe different types of cold. The only triggers are the so-called aeroallergens, i.e. allergens that are only transmitted through the air. The majority of these allergens form the group of pollen, which is spread outdoors with the wind.
From mid-April, high concentrations of hornbeam, ash and birch pollen can already be found in the lowlands, while pollen pollution is lower in the mountain regions. Tree, grain and grass pollen are considered to be particularly aggressive. A nitrogenous rain, followed by several days of mild and dry weather, offers the best conditions for germination. The weather service is aware of these conditions, which is why the meteorologists create a pollen calendar every year. The calendar enables an accurate forecast that can warn allergy sufferers a few days before the high season. This leaves enough time to take some simple hay fever prevention measures. We explain in detail below how you can protect yourself against pollen allergies and alleviate the symptoms.
Numerous studies have shown that pollen from trees in particular can trigger hay fever in large cities. There are two reasons for this: on the one hand, the trees in the cities are exposed to the exhaust gas pollutants that accumulate on the tree pollen during the germination period; on the other hand, the polluted air also irritates human skin and mucous membranes. All in all, one can conclude that this is why the urban population suffers particularly badly from allergic rhinitis.
But we are also at risk in our own home. Dust mites, the spores of mold or animal hair, can also trigger allergies if inhaled. The difference to the pollen allergy is that while the first is weather and season-dependent, the second can lead to constant colds.
What are the symptoms of hay fever and how is the allergy diagnosed?
The symptoms of hay fever can vary widely. Many of those affected suffer from sneezing, itching, watery eyes, chronic fatigue, various contact allergies and dermatitis. Doctors advise you to always be examined if you have a cough. This is because the symptoms may worsen over time and spread to the bronchi. Allergic toddlers in particular are at risk of asthma, so parents should always seek advice from their family doctor in order to avoid complications. He can best assess whether treatment with medication makes sense as a preventive measure and possibly prescribe therapy.
Before treating it, however, it is important to find out the exact cause. In most cases, diagnosing allergic rhinitis is not difficult. Doctors examine the patient and decide, based on the symptoms, whether a skin or blood test is necessary. Molecular diagnostics and nasal tests can provide important information in some cases. As soon as the triggers are determined, the professionals can recommend an appropriate therapy.
Remedies for hay fever: therapies and preventive measures
While doctors recommend excluding the allergens from the menu or cosmetics in the case of a contact or food allergy, in the case of hay fever it is impossible to completely avoid the trigger. Instead, desensitization measures are taken in these cases. With immunotherapy, those affected are made insensitive to the allergens. Around 65% of patients are positively influenced by the therapy, with the majority the risk of developing further allergies is significantly reduced. They also experience fewer complications such as coughing and asthma, and need less or no medicine during the high pollen season.
Important preventive measures that those affected can take in advance also include:
1. During the high pollen season, ventilate less often and turn on an air purifier in the house.
2. Tumble dry clothes, not outdoors.
3. If you have to go out, an afternoon after a rain is the best time to do it. The rain cleans the air of floating pollen
4. No gardening during high season. Allergy sufferers should avoid mowing the lawn in particular.
5. Before going out, apply nasal balm or petroleum jelly to the nasal mucosa.
6. Take a shower after every walk.
7. Protect sensitive eyes from pollen with sunglasses.
8. Prevent other allergens: Thoroughly clean your own home before the start of the high season and vacuum it daily. If possible, keep pets outside and not leave them indoors.
9. Avoid cigarette smoke and strong fragrances.
10. If necessary, remove mold in the house.
Remedy for hay fever: honey
Honey can be surprisingly effective and one of the best remedies for hay fever. The natural product contains small amounts of pollen and is therefore used as a desensitization agent. Those who consume honey every day could slowly get their bodies used to the allergens, similar to desensitization therapy. However, in order to achieve the desired effect, you must adhere to a few basic rules:
1. Buy honey only from local vendors. Only when the bees have fed on the pollen from the area will the honey they later produce also contain the poles that cause an allergic reaction in you.
2. If you suffer from hay fever in the spring, then you need to buy honey that is thrown in the spring. If, on the other hand, you suffer from allergies in summer, the natural product should be thrown out in late summer.
If you have allergic asthma, it would be better to avoid honey altogether. This method is also less suitable for small children. Otherwise, you can start eating honey every day at least 4 months before the high season. Start with one teaspoon a day and very slowly increase the amount until you consume four tablespoons a day. If you suffer from severe allergies, you should first discuss honey therapy with your doctor.
Remedy for hay fever: vitamin C.
Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine that contains, among other things, oranges, lemons and grapefruits. The fruits are also rich in flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties. The combination of vitamin C and flavonoids can effectively relieve symptoms such as nasal congestion. Since the combination with milk can neutralize the effects of flavonoids, the experts recommend avoiding tea with lemon and milk. Instead, you can squeeze a cup of fresh juice every day in spring and dilute it with half a cup of water. Drink the juice in the morning after you’ve had breakfast.
Remedy for hay fever: hot paprika / chili peppers
Hot peppers / chilli peppers contain capsaicin, a substance that gives vegetables their hot taste. Depending on the degree of spiciness, you can add half a chilli pepper to a day to salads and dishes. It will relieve symptoms such as sneezing or itching, has an expectorant effect and can reduce swelling.
Remedy for hay fever: carotenoids
Carotenoids are similar to flavonoids, pigments that are known for their antioxidant properties and can strengthen the body’s defenses. Carrots, apricots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and spinach are high in carotenoids. Consume at least a handful of the aforementioned fruits and vegetables every day.
Remedy for hay fever: which tea helps with a Polish allergy?
Even if chamomile tea is celebrated for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, allergy sufferers should avoid it. The otherwise mild tea can intensify the allergic reaction. Instead, peppermint tea or black tea are alternatives. Cool compresses with black tea help with watery eyes. Instead of putting the tea bags on your eyes yourself, you can boil water, soak the tea bag for three minutes, and then remove it. Let the tea cool to room temperature first and then put it in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes. Dip cotton pads in the tea and then place them on the eyes. Let the compress work for 15 minutes and then remove the cotton pads.
Remedy for hay fever: garlic
Garlic cloves contain the substance quercetin, which weakens the effects of histamine. If you want to alleviate your symptoms with garlic, you should consume one or two cloves of garlic raw two months before the peak pollen season. You can use it to season salads or starters, for example, and either press the garlic cloves or cut them into thin slices.
Remedy for hay fever: Vaseline
One of the most popular remedies for hay fever, and perhaps the cheapest and most effective at the same time, is petroleum jelly. If you spread petroleum jelly on and into your nose before going out, you will keep the allergens away from the nasal mucosa. The pollen is not inhaled, but sticks to the petroleum jelly. In contrast to the other measures mentioned above, petroleum jelly cannot contribute to prevention, but it is perfect for alleviating symptoms.
At home you can then shower your nose with salt water to gently remove the petroleum jelly and to care for the mucous membrane. You should only use these nasal showers in the acute phase, i.e. in the high pollen season.
Remedies against hay fever: scented oils
Fragrance oils are also often used in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Peppermint oil has an expectorant effect, oregano essential oil – anti-inflammatory and eucalyptus fragrance oil can help with a runny nose. Lavender and clary sage oils can regulate contact allergies and skin inflammation.
There are several ways in which you can alleviate your symptoms with essential oils:
1. If you have a stuffy nose, you can put a few drops of a scented oil of your choice on a handkerchief once a day and then hold it in front of your nose. Then inhale the essential oils for several minutes.
2. Bring water to a boil, then take the pan off the stove and add several drops of scented oil. Cover your head with a towel, then inhale the steam. Repeat 2 to 3 times a day.
3. Put scented oils in an aroma-oil scented nebulizer.
4. Mix the oils into the bath water.
Acupuncture really helps with hay fever?
Not only herbs and certain types of vegetables and fruits help to reduce the symptoms of pollen allergy. In the last few years there has been more and more talk of acupuncture as a treatment method. In England, some medical associations advise treating patients who do not wish to take medication with acupuncture. In Germany, experts do not agree on whether such treatment can really reduce the symptoms or not.
Millions of people suffer from hay fever every year, one in five in Germany alone is affected by allergic rhinitis. Most people don’t see a doctor and don’t want to take any medication. A mistake, actually, because the family doctor in particular can assess whether other remedies against hay fever can be used or whether one should rather take medication to avoid complications such as asthma.