While the warmer weather and brighter evenings make Spring many people’s favourite time of year, it is set to trigger a wave of problems due to the start of the hay fever season…
Trees begin to pollinate as early as March, and with this comes microscopic spores, dust and pollen that irritate our eyes and sinuses. Hay fever affects more than 1 in 5 people in the UK, with one of the most common symptoms being itchy, burning and watery eyes.
Our eyes and sinuses are very sensitive to environmental changes, which can leave us feeling ‘stuffy’ and uncomfortable. Our body wrongly interprets pollen and dust particles as a threat and tries to expel them. When pollen and particles from the air are swept into our eyes we create lots of watery tears to flush them away. This excessive watering reduces the quality of our tears meaning our eyes feel dry and sore – it’s a vicious cycle.
Here are our 10 top tips to help you survive this hay fever season naturally…
1. Banish stuffy noses
Springtime is all about getting outdoors and being active, but feeling stuffy and blocked up can make that a challenge. Blocked sinuses from pollen allergies can leave you feeling lethargic and sluggish but there are things we can do to help. Try adding a couple of drops of peppermint oil to a bowl of hot water and inhaling the vapour. It will help clear blocked noses as well as being calming!
2. Dual protection for itchy eyes
One of the most common hay fever complaints is itchy, burning, and watery eyes, but preservative free eye drops can help to protect and soothe them. Brand new Hycosan Dual provides protection and relief for allergy affected eyes. It contains all natural ingredients which combine to form a dual barrier against pollen, dust particles and animal hair. It’s unique bottle design means it stays sterile for 6 months and it’s contact lens friendly. (£14.95 available from Boots and all good opticians and pharmacies)
3. Calm those coughs
Whether it’s pollen, or dust from spring cleaning, breathing in these microscopic particles can irritate our lungs and cause coughs and sore throats. Manuka honey is 4 times as rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals as regular honey which makes it a great way to stimulate our immune system and prevent throat irritation and coughing. Add a spoonful to your smoothie or yoghurt for a healthy breakfast with a boost.
4. Brighten dark circles
Dark circles that develop under the eyes during spring may not mean that you’re sleep deprived. Hay fever causes congestion which restricts blood flow to the area, causing darkness and puffiness. Try using specialist antibacterial wipes Optase™ TTO to cleanse the lids the sand delicate skin around your eyes. New Optase™ TTO contains tea tree oil, Hyaluronic Acid, Camomile and Aloe Vera to hydrate and soothe your eyelids. (£9.95 available from Scope Ophthalmics)
5. Be sneeze-free
Sneezing is the body’s way of getting rid of bacteria and viruses so it’s an important part of the immune system. In springtime however, pesky pollen particles can enter the nose and cause irritation leading to fits of sneezing. Replace your coffee with a cup of chamomile tea. Coffee contains histamine which can aggravate allergy symptoms like sneezing. Chamomile, however is a natural antihistamine and a mild sedative so swap that coffee-crash for pure relaxation.
6. Shampoo away the pollen
Pollen is often compared to dust but it’s actually much stickier! When it finds its way into your hair it can transfer onto your pillow causing further irritation throughout the night and leave you feeling groggy in the morning. If you have been outside during the day taking a warm shower before bed can help minimise the impact and promote a good night’s sleep!
7. Getting green fingers
In the UK 40% of us consider ourselves to be a regular gardener. With the weather getting warmer, allotments, garden centres, green houses and flower beds are calling! Some flowers are available in a hypoallergenic form – sunflowers without the pollen are a sure way to help you feel fresh as a daisy!
8. Time it right
Avoid outside activity when the air is warming up and cooling down because the pollen count is highest at these times, generally 8-10am and 5-7pm. Keeping your bedroom windows open at night can help as heavy curtains and drapes are a magnet for dust particles and mites, but remember to do the opposite when driving to ensure the pollen can’t come in!
9. Keep your eyes under wraps
Wearing wraparound sunglasses can reduce the amount of pollen or spores that enter your eyes. Allergy irritated eyes are also more sensitive to sunlight so stylish shades can help to ease the discomfort of sore eyes too!
10. Filter the fur
Research from the makers of Hycosan Dual finds that nearly half of the population have a furry friend living at home. If you are a proud pet owner try an HPEA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter to trap allergens before they can irritate your eyes.
If you suffer from hay-fever then try some of the above tips from Optometrist Sarah Farrant and see if you notice a difference in your day to day life. You can also buy some of the excellent remedies listed from Scope Ophthalmics by visiting their website. These products are soon to be launched in Boots stores.