Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is an allergic reaction caused by pollen from blooming trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses, which cause the sinuses to swell. Hay fever affects around 40 million people each year in the United States.
Symptoms of Hay Fever
Symptoms of hay fever can include any, or all, of the following:
- Runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy or sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Post nasal drip
- Pressure or pain in the face
Remedies for Hay Fever
Try the following remedies to lessen your hay fever symptoms.
- Nettle, or stinging nettle, is sold in health food stores and can be found in capsules, tea or tinctures. Studies have shown nettle to relieve symptoms such as itching, sneezing and nasal congestion by reducing inflammation.
- Wear sunglasses when outside to protect the eyes from pollen, which can cause them to itch and water.
- Wear a dust mask when mowing the lawn or working outdoors. This can help to block the pollen and keep symptoms at bay. Better yet, have someone mow or rake for you, if possible.
- Wash your face and hands after being outdoors to remove pollen.
- Avoid outdoors in the early morning and early evening hours, when pollen is usually at its worst.
- Wash your hair before going to bed if you’ve spent any time outside. This can remove the pollen in your hair and help you sleep better.
- Butterbur is an herb that is thought to block the action of histamine, similar to the effect of an allergy medication. In a study, butterbur was found to be as effective at relieving symptoms of hay fever as the antihistamine drug, fexofenadine. People allergic to ragweed, marigold, daisy or chrysanthemum should avoid the use of butterbur.
- Rinse your eyes with cool water to relieve itchiness and irritation from pollen.
- Place a warm, damp washcloth over the nose and cheeks to relive pain and pressure from congestion.
- Peppermint tea can relieve congestion.
- Red clover is an herb that treats respiratory problems. It can also help the body build a resistance to allergies when taken regularly. Red clover can be used as a tea, and is also available in capsules and tinctures.
- Gingko contains natural antihistamines and anti-inflammatory chemicals and helps with many symptoms of hay fever.
- Goldenseal has been found to relieve a sore throat.
- Reishi mushrooms are natural antihistamines and reduce inflammation.
- Place five drops of rosemary essential oil in a pan of boiling water. Lean close to the pan and breathe in the steam for 10 minutes.
- Eyebright is an herb that is helpful in alleviating itchy eyes and runny nose. It can be used as an eye wash.
- Milk thistle is helpful in reducing allergic and histaminic reactions.
- Horehound relieves inflammation and soothes a sore throat.
- Chicory root is effective for treating sinus problems. Powder of the dry root in doses of half a teaspoon, mixed with honey is a good expectorant.
- Thyme is a natural expectorant.
- Oregano is effective for treating respiratory problems and sore throat.
- Alfalfa leaf is a common hay fever remedy and is available in dried leaves, capsules, tablets and extracts.
- Licorice root is effective at treating upper respiratory problems and soothing a sore throat.
- Elder flower reduces inflammation and relieves cough and congestion.
- Vigorous exercise can relieve nasal congestion.
- Taking Vitamin C can help to prevent the overproduction of histamine.
- Irrigate the nasal passages with a saline solution to clean pollen from the nose. You can use an over-the-counter saline solution or make your own saltwater solution of ¼ cup salt and 2 cups warm water.
- Keep your pet clean. Bathe your pet regularly to remove dust and pollen.
- Use a dehumidifier in your home to reduce the humidity.
- If you find yourself having a coughing or sneezing attack, take a warm shower.
- Keep the windows and doors shut when pollen counts are high to keep it out of your home.
- Use an air purifier in your home to remove allergens from the air.
- Use an over-the-counter antihistamine, such as Allegra, Alavert, Clariten, Zyrtec, or Benadryl for fast relief from sneezing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.
- Take an over-the-counter decongestant, such as Drixoral, Sudafed, or Actifed.
- Avoid the outdoors on dry, windy days.
- Run the air conditioner in your home and car.
While most hay fever can be treated with home remedies and simple lifestyle changes, some cases are severe. If your hay fever symptoms do not respond to home remedies, see your doctor. You may need a prescription medication or allergy shots.