Here comes summer and a high pollen count. Simple steps to help you avoid the worst of seasonal allergies.

May 1, 2023

As we head into May, we are hopefully looking forward to better weather and even an extra Bank Holiday to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III. With these long weekends and schools on half term, the better weather gives many of us the chance to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. However, if you are an allergy sufferer, you might not find the days out quite so appealing.

May usually signals the start of the grass pollen season which peaks in June, but can cause a lot of discomfort before that. A few simple steps can help make a difference and allow you to enjoy the better weather and days out.

May sees the start of the grass pollen season and with that, the start of itchy eyes, sneezing and congestion for anyone with hayfever.

Hayfever symptoms vary between individuals, it could be just annoying sneezing, through to streaming and itchy eyes, blocked nose and difficulty breathing. Hayfever, or allergic rhinitis as it is known, can start at any age and can vary as we go through different life stages. It is also important to be sure that it is hayfever and not a respiratory infection. Some of the symptoms may be similar to a cold or Covid, so if in doubt, contact your GP.

Many people take over the counter antihistamines, but these can cause drowsiness and mean that you can’t drive or concentrate fully. The good news is that there are a number of natural solutions that can help you cope with the symptoms.

Firstly, if you are heading out it is worth checking the regional pollen forecast from the Met Office, this gives you some guidance as to which days have very high levels of pollen and can help you plan your days out.

Checking the regional pollen forecast from the Met Office can help you plan days out around days with a high pollen count.

Make some of these other steps part of your daily routine to help you cope:

  • Keeping doors and windows closed or covered can help reduce the amount of pollen that gets into the home, especially on windy days.
  • Wearing sunglasses when you go out not protects your eyes from becoming irritated, but also hides the irritation if you feel you want to.
  • For irritated eyes, simple things like flannel wrung out in cold water or a couple of slices of cucumber applied to the eyes, can help give some soothing, short term relief.
  • If you keep your bedroom windows open during the day, cover the bed and pillows with a large sheet or similar. In the evening, carefully fold it inwards without shaking it and remove it. This helps protect your bedding from pollen landing on it during the day. If you are really sensitive to pollens, it is better to get someone to do this for you if possible.

We often come back to the fact that what we eat has an impact on our health and seasonal allergies are no different. Eating plenty of fresh and brightly coloured fruit and vegetables will give you a source of antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C and Beta carotene. Antioxidants can help look after the respiratory system and help protect against oxidative stress caused by pollutants.

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that is present just under the skin of fruits such as oranges, so we often loose it when we peel an orange. Research suggests that it is useful for respiratory health and plays a role in the histamine response. If you want to top up what you get from your diet, you can take it as a supplement often in the same formulation as vitamin C.

There are some foods that you might like to reduce or avoid if you experience hayfever, foods high in histamine. These include alcohol, caffeine, smoked meat and some nuts including walnuts and cashews. Milk based products can be high in histamine and may be mucous forming and lead to added congestion. When your symptoms are at their worst, keeping these foods to a minimum could be a good idea.

Avoiding foods high in histamine, including caffeine, smoked meats and milk based products may help reduce your symptoms.

Keeping hydrated is important for the health of the mucous membranes, but you may wish to avoid milky drinks if you are already suffering from catarrh and congestion. Try herbal teas for something different, there are plenty to choose from including fruity flavours that can add a zing to your day. There are also others that have a more traditional approach such as nettle that has traditionally been used to help with hayfever thanks to the natural anti inflammatory effect of the nettles.

Adding a multi vitamin and a friendly flora supplement to your daily regime is also a good way to support your healthy diet. We know that a healthy microbiome, the colonies of good bacteria in the body, are important for not just keeping the digestive system clean, but also as part of healthy immune system function. Simple steps, that can help you in your wellness journey.

So eat well, keep an eye on the pollen forecast, stay hydrated, pack your sun glasses and check your supplement regime, and look forward to some sunny days out in May.

Look at your supplement regime to see if you need to adjust it for the summer months.

Share this article:
Back to Blog