Hay fever season is now upon us. While spring and summer signal the start of a wonderful phase for many people, it also means the beginning of the dreaded hay fever season. Also known as or nasal allergies or allergic rhinitis, hay fever is a condition that happens when an allergic person inhales an allergen they are sensitive to.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this condition affects close to 19 million American adults and can be seasonal, yearlong, or even occupational. Outdoor or indoor allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, as well as tiny particles of skin and saliva shed by animals with fur or feathers are the usual causes of hay fever. Other irritants include cigarette smoking, pollution, and perfume.
Allergic rhinitis brings several uncomfortable symptoms. Some of them are:
* Runny nose
* Itchy eyes
* Itchy throat
* Frequent sneezing and coughing
* Sinus pressure
* Loss of smell
Some people may also feel fatigued or unwell during an allergy attack. But symptoms can vary from person to person.
Thankfully, managing hay fever isn’t that complicated. Over-the-counter antihistamines (drugs that treat hay fever and other allergies) will help reduce the symptoms. You can also try using eye drops, a saline nasal rinse, or an air purifier to cope with your hay fever. Wearing a mask will, of course, ensure that you don’t inhale any allergens.
However, there are some wonderful natural treatments too that you should try to keep allergic rhinitis at bay.
Many herbs have a natural anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effect and can work as mild decongestants for your blocked nose and itchy throat when you are struggling with allergic rhinitis. Look for herbal teas like chamomile, ginger, mint, or nettle and have them hot. In fact, before sipping them, make sure that you inhale the steam coming out of the cup. That’s because their heat and steam should help open and decongest your blocked airways. Drinking hot herbal teas will also be helpful in soothing itchy or sore throat.
Try mixing ginger with turmeric, which is another powerful natural healer. The combination of these two herbs is recommended by many experts as a potent remedy for allergic rhinitis. Both of these herbs are naturally hot and stimulating and when taken in combination should help ease nasal swelling.
While vitamin C is well known for supporting the immune system, it also acts as a natural antihistamine. A 2018 study on vitamin C in the treatment of allergies showed that oxidative stress plays a key role in allergic diseases. The researchers of the study observed that vitamin C reduced allergy symptoms. Furthermore, they also stated that vitamin C deficiency can lead to allergy-related diseases such as hay fever.
Another recent study showed that vitamin C supplements may decrease inflammation, swelling, and related symptoms that are caused by allergic rhinitis.
Vitamin C is present in many fruits and vegetables, including:
* Bell peppers
* Cantaloupe melon
* Citrus fruits
* Tomatoes and tomato juice
* Winter squash
Health experts suggest having 1,000mg of vitamin C a day for adults battling hay fever.
3. Use aloe vera
Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory, cooling, and antifungal properties and can be quite useful in soothing itching in the case of allergies. It can also be used as a natural antihistamine owing to its high concentrations of organic compounds acemannan, anthraquinones, and the enzyme bradykinesia. These can relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies like hay fever by increasing tolerance to allergens and cleansing your liver, and as a result, reducing any allergic response from the immune system. Furthermore, aloe vera doesn’t contain sodium benzoate, which is considered a contributing factor in allergies.
Aloe-based drinks and gels are widely available in the market these days. Opt for a pure aloe vera juice and drink 50 ml, preferably in the morning before or after breakfast during the flu season.
Perilla frutescens is an obscure herb in the mint family but can be effective as a treatment for some of the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Studies have shown that the herb can be useful in easing nasal congestion, sinusitis, allergic asthma, and eye irritation. The leaves and seeds of the herb have been used to slow damage to cells and can also alleviate allergic-related skin conditions. The herb can be taken as a pill, powder, or extract. You can also use it as oil or make it into tea.
Apart from helping reducing inflammation in the body, the essential oils found in the perilla herb can boost serotonin levels in the brain and thus improve your mood.
Note: Experts recommend taking perilla frutescens in small doses for a short time since not enough studies have been done to establish how safe it is to use it for a long time.
5. Have some hot peppers
Red and chili peppers contain an active component called capsaicin that’s been used to treat nerve pain and psoriasis. However, the chemical can also help with a runny nose that’s caused by nasal congestion during hay fever. Many studies have found that applying capsaicin to the nose is effective in managing a runny nose.
Since chili peppers contain capsaicin, eating them can help open the blocked nasal passages and reduce congestion. You can add red and chili peppers to your daily diet by including them in your salads or cooking them with your meals.
6. Add some hot spices to your meals
When you have symptoms of nasal congestion due to hay fever, eating some spicy foods might help. Yes, spicy foods can make a runny nose worse but they can help clear a blocked nose.
Try adding some hot spices like cayenne pepper, ghost pepper, horseradish, habanero, wasabi, or ginger to your meals. When eaten, these spices help create a feeling of heat and end up opening nasal passageways, thus providing some relief from sinus issues.
However, not everyone will be able to tolerate hot spices in their meals. So, start with a small number of spicy seasonings at first. If it helps, you can start increasing the amount gradually in your meals.
Several hay sufferers swear by Vaseline for being a lifesaver remedy to ease symptoms. It’s recommended to use petroleum jelly around your nostrils and eyes as it can trap pollen and prevent it from entering the nasal passages. Even some leading hospitals have started recommending this tip to protect yourself from hay fever or stop its symptoms from worsening.
Vaseline is cheap and easily available. So there’s no harm in trying this technique as it's much better than constantly sneezing or having a runny nose.
Some other tips that can ease hay fever symptoms:
* Shower and change clothes after being outside.
* Vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth.
* Avoid mucus-producing foods such as dairy products, wheat, and sugar.
* Keep windows closed at night when you sleep.
* Rinse out your sinuses with a saline nasal spray at least twice a day.
* Use a neti pot for nasal irrigation to rinse out your sinuses thoroughly.
* Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated when you have a runny nose during hay fever. This will ensure that the mucus in your sinuses thin out to a runny consistency and hence will be easier to remove.
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