About This Condition
Hay fever is an allergic condition triggered by the immune system’s response to inhalant substances (frequently pollens).
Researchers have yet to clearly understand why some people’s immune systems over-react to exposure to pollens while other people do not suffer from this problem. Symptoms of hay fever are partly a result of inflammation that, in turn, is activated by the immune system.
Inhaled allergens trigger sneezing and inflammation of the nose and mucous membranes (conjunctiva) of the eyes. The nose, roof of the mouth, eyes, and throat begin to itch gradually or abruptly after the onset of the pollen season. Tearing, sneezing, and clear, watery nasal discharge soon follow the itching. Headaches and irritability may also occur.
Reducing Your Risk
To help keep you in top health, our experts recommend these steps:
- Eat the inflammation away. Diet isn’t proven to prevent hay fever. However, a key feature of this condition is excess inflammation, so making anti-inflammatory foods the base of your diet may bolster defenses. Dine on nuts and seeds, fresh, colorful vegetables and fruits, and cold-water fish, such as salmon, sardines, and cod. Select Eating Right, above, for more information.
- Go fish. Omega-3 fats, found in cold-water fish can dampen inflammation. However, if you don’t regularly enjoy fish, a fish oil supplement may fill in the omega-3 gaps. Select Vitamins, above, for more information.
- Know your woes. It’s easy to mistake the early phases of a cold for allergies, so be sure you know what you’re dealing with before taking anti-allergy medications. Select Medicines, above, for more information.
- Control your environment. Healthy living products, such as an air purifier to lessen allergy triggers in your home, may help you feel like you don’t even have hay fever! Select Personal Care, above, for more information.
Living With It
Our experts recommend the following tips for taming the sniffles, sneezes, and wheezes of hay fever:
- Reduce allergens. People with inhalant allergies also may have food allergies, and these may worsen hay fever. Consider working with a knowledgeable health care provider to identify and eliminate potential food allergens from your diet. Select Eating Right, above, for more information.
- Butter it up. Supplements made from the plant butterbur are proven effective at reducing hay fever symptoms. Ask your healthcare provider if this product may be right for you. Select Vitamins, above, for more information.
- Medicate for prevention. Many allergy medications work best when taken continuously, to keep hay fever symptoms from ever appearing in the first place. Read labels and take medications as recommended for best effect. Select About, and Medicines, above, for more information.
- Just add water. For both kids and adults, humidifiers and vaporizers in the bedroom at night can soothe dry, clogged sinuses, and ease hay fever symptoms. Select Personal Care, above, for more information.