Yesterday was not a good day. The day before that was marginally better and the day before that was a vision in white – white tissues, that is.
Yes, my name is Stuart and I suffer from hayfever. I have struggled with this physical blight since I was eleven years old and I can’t see it being cured anywhere in the near future. It comes and goes and attacks randomly throughout any season, not just spring.
When you suffer from hayfever, relief comes only from keeping a tissue – or if you like keeping snot in your pocket, via a hanky – constantly under your nose as it drips like the proverbial tap. You begin sneezing as soon as someone mentions the pollen count and your eyes heat up like you’ve just rubbed them with chili. And that’s a good day!
So how do people remain bouyant and enjoy life, their gardens and their pets when they suffer from this annoying – it’s the only word that could describe it – affliction? Firstly, you need to know what it is before you can understand how to treat or manage it.
What is hayfever?
Hayfever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis, is the abnormal reaction to substances such as dust, pollens and dander (hair follicles, airborne skin flakes). It affects the respiratory system via the mucous membranes causing the eyes to weep and runny noses and sneezing to occur. – Wikipedia
In basic form it means that your body is abnormally reactive to basic substances. Admit it, you’re a freak!
You contract hayfever because your body can’t deal with these substances and it affects you seasonally, predominantly in spring when the pollen count is extremely high. Once you’ve been diagnosed with hayfever allergies you are most certainly endowed with this gift for life. Some seasons will be better than others but for the most part a cure for hayfever has not yet been found.
Does hayfever treatment help?
Sometimes. I take an over-the-counter drug to combat the onset of my allergies and most times it’s very effective. However the last couple of days it’s done diddly-squat and I continue to race through tissue boxes faster than a toddler with a new plaything.
Antihistamines are the main relief for most hayfever allergies and those with more serious symptoms will opt for steroid based anti-inflammatory medicines.
Are there natural remedies for hayfever?
Is the Pope, Catholic? If filling your body full of chemicals every spring doesn’t excite you then there are some natural remedies available, but not all palatable!
One anecdote shares how contracting hookworms cured this guy not only of his hayfever allergies but also from asthma.
Then there are the countless natural remedies using herbs and other plant materials. Everything from chamomile to eucalyptus oil, St John’s Wood to ginger all play a part as natural remedies of hayfever.
Controlling your hayfever allergies
In most cases – unless of course you’re willing to walk barefoot through West African latrines – a cure for hayfever is unlikely. But there are ways of controlling and managing the symptoms so that most of your suffering can be abated.
Here are a few handy hints gleaned from the College of Family Physicians of Canada;
Pollens. Shower or bathe before bedtime to wash off any pollen and other allergens that may have collected in your hair and on your skin. Avoid going outside, especially on dry, windy days. Keeping the windows and doors shut can be helpful, as can using an air conditioner both at home and in your car.Mold. You can reduce the amount of mold in your home by not having houseplants and by often cleaning shower curtains, bathroom windows, damp walls, areas with dry rot and indoor trashcans. Use a mix of water and chlorine bleach to kill mold. Repair areas as needed Don’t carpet bathrooms or other damp rooms and use mold-proof paint instead of wallpaper. Throw away old books, shoes and bedding, which can be a source for mold. Lower humidity in your home by using a dehumidifier.
Pet dander. You may need to give your pets away or at least keep them outside because they bring pollen as well as animal dander in with them.
Cat or dog dander is often in house dust and takes four weeks or more to die down, so a short-term trial of no pet at home may not help you find out if this is a problem for you.
Dust. You can reduce dust mites by getting rid of the places where they like to live and breed, such as carpets, drapes and feather pillows, and by making your home less inviting by keeping low the humidity and dusting often with a damp cloth. See the box below for tips. Pay attention to keeping your bedroom clean. This is where you spend much of your time at home.
Wear a mask when you clean. Even better, have someone else at home clean for you or hire someone to clean.