Hay fever season is in full swing bringing with it leaky eyes, clogged sinuses and sneezing fits galore.
In fact, if you haven’t gone through 40 boxes of tissues by now you’re doing well.
Here, Push Doctor’s chief medical officer, Dr Adam Simon, dishes out his top tips for banishing the summer sniffles.
1. Change clothes as soon as you get home
When you’re outside, pollen can stick to your clothes. This might explain why you’re feeling sneezy long after you get home.
Changing into something else straight away is a good idea.
2. Shake your jacket
We all have clothes we wear most days, such as a favourite coat or jacket. To make sure you don’t start the day with an unwelcome dose of pollen, give your coat a good shake before you put it back on. Just remember to do it outside.
3. Hang clothes to dry indoors
Washing your clothes will get rid of pollen, but drying them outside could put you back where you started, especially if it’s a windy day.
If you can, dry clothes inside to stop pollen getting to them.
If you don’t have enough space to do this, at least ensure you don’t have clothes out in the early morning or the evening, when pollen levels are highest.
4. Rinse your hair regularly
Your hair is another place for pollen to latch on and cause hay fever symptoms, so giving it a regular rinse will stop this happening. You don’t need to use any shampoo here. Water will do the job fine on its own.
5. Keep pets clean
Stopping people bringing pollen into your home is one thing. Stopping pets is a little more challenging.
The best you can do is give them a regular brush or bath during hay fever season.
6. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and act accordingly
Pay attention during the weather forecast and you’ll usually discover whether pollen is out in force that day. If the pollen count isn’t mentioned, you can find out from your local news website.
If the pollen count is really high and your symptoms are severe, it might be best to stay indoors.
7. Keep windows closed
If pollen can’t get to you, your hay fever won’t flare up. This may be difficult on a really hot day, so make sure you have a fan or air conditioning to keep you cool.
8. Avoid gardening
This is good news for anyone who hates mowing the lawn. Gardening is obviously going to leave you exposed to pollen, so this is one chore you can excuse yourself from.
Having said that, some grasses are more likely to release pollen the taller they’re allowed to grow, so if you can, get someone who doesn’t have hay fever to do it for you.
9. Choose your sunglasses carefully
Sunglasses can shield your eyes from more than just the sun. If itchy eyes are one of your hay fever symptoms, the right pair of shades can help keep pollen away. Wraparound styles are the most effective.
10. Defend your nose
Anything you can do to stop pollen getting into your nose will help stop hay fever symptoms. One way to do this is by applying Vaseline around your nostrils to trap the pollen.
11. Stop smoking
Like any form of air pollution, cigarette smoke will irritate the lining of your airways and make your allergies worse.
12. Leave the city
While you’d imagine hay fever symptoms would be worse in the countryside, some studies have shown they can be more likely to occur in a big city.
Increased air pollution is the reason for this. There are at least 40 UK towns and cities that the World Health Organisation has identified as exceeding normal air pollution levels.
13. Head for the sea
A trip to the beach could be just what you need to calm your symptoms, as that refreshing sea breeze blows pollen inland before it can get to you.
14. Eat a spicy meal
If your hay fever causes a stuffy, blocked nose, a hot curry could be the answer. Spicy chilli peppers can help to widen your airways and make it easier to breathe, while other spices, such as turmeric, are natural anti-inflammatories that can help relieve symptoms.
15. Choose ingredients carefully
One of the best nutrients for hay fever is a flavanol called quercetin, which studies have shown can suppress histamine production. Foods that are high in quercetin include green vegetables, berries, beans and apples.
Eating foods rich in beta carotene (carrots, spinach, any yellow fruit) and omega 3 (oily fish) are two more ways to soothe your blocked nose and painful sinuses.
16. Try a new tea
If you like to start the day with a cup of tea, there are lots of options that will help you manage your hay fever.
Try a chamomile or nettle tea to relieve your symptoms, as both have antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties.
16. Stay away from food that produces histamine
Histamine is the chemical your body produces in response to infection. It causes swelling that protects your body, but in hay fever sufferers, it’s released when it’s not needed.
The last thing you want to do is make your symptoms worse, so you should probably avoid foods that either contain histamine or will encourage your body to produce more of it. Some offending items include pickles, cured and smoked meat and fish, cheese and nuts.
Some fruits encourage your body to release histamine and make your hay fever worse, so if your mouth feels tingly when you eat a certain fruit, this might explain why.
17. Avoid alcohol
While it’s tempting to relax with an alcoholic drink on a hot summer’s day, it’s unfortunately also packed with histamine.
18. Find the right antihistamine
Antihistamines are the most common treatment for hay fever. Use them when you experience symptoms or, if you know which type of pollen you’re allergic to, you can take them during your hay fever season to stop symptoms before they happen.
However, some antihistamines may make you drowsy, so it’s important to see a doctor and make sure you’re getting an effective medicine that won’t disrupt your day.
19. Ask about nasal sprays
If a blocked nose is your main problem, doctors can suggest an effective nasal spray.
It’s important to choose the correct spray for you. A simple decongestant may be all you need, while more severe symptoms may require a prescription for a corticosteroid spray.
20. Invest in eye drops
For hay fever sufferers who are mainly affected by problems with their eyes, eye drops can help. They contain antihistamines and can help with symptoms such as itching, redness and watering.
21. Take a test
If you want quick answers about the sort of pollen you’re allergic to, you can see a doctor and arrange for a blood test. This will reveal what’s responsible for setting off your symptoms, helping you create an effective treatment plan.
22. Keep a hay fever diary
If you’re happy to play the long game, noting down when your symptoms occur each year might help you notice patterns. This will help you prepare in future years, as you’ll know when your symptoms are likely to be at their worst.