Living your best summer life with hay fever doesn’t come easy. But with a few extra tools and know-how in your armoury, enjoying sunny summer days out is in your grasp.
This month we’ve been chatting to Carol Murdoch, founder of Love Outdoor Learning about how she copes with her hay fever when working outside all day. Carol explains: “As a teacher I’ve discovered that taking learning outdoors removes barriers and helps all children progress. There is a magic that can be found in playgrounds across the country. But as a lifelong hay fever sufferer I’ve had to work out how best to manage my symptoms.”
Taking a daily antihistamine tablet is effective and often the go to option for most people but as Carol points out it’s not for everyone. “I’m reluctant to pop a pill at the first sign of trouble and as I find some antihistamines make me feel drowsy and groggy, I prefer a more natural approach.” Over the years she’s tried and tested a number of things that she finds helpful and we asked her to share her top tips with us.
There are lots of practical things you can do at home to minimise the amount of pollen that makes its way into your home - and ultimately your airways. Sleeping with the windows shut; taking a shower as soon as you come inside to wash away any pollen that has collected on skin, clothes and hair; drying laundry inside so it doesn’t collect pollen when hung outside. Carol also swears by a couple of other natural remedies:
“The thinking is that local honey is made from the nectar collected from local flowers and that somehow it reduces your sensitivity to the pollen in your area. Some people swear by taking a couple of spoonsful a day, and I personally I think it helps.”
Take the sting out of hay fever
Although further research is needed, some studies have linked the natural anti-inflammatory properties of stinging nettle leaf to a reduction of sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes in people with hay fever.
Carol is a fan of nettle tea “Wearing thick gloves, take a few of the top leaves before the nettles flower, pop it into your teapot add boiling water to neutralise the stings and let it stew for 10-15 minutes.”
So there’s lots we can do at home to avoid and minimise contact with pollen but what about when you’re out and about?
Avoiding pollen outdoors is impossible but you can take steps to reduce the amount that reaches your airways.
Get tied up
Carol explains: “I always keep my hair tied back when the pollen count is medium to high. As much as I love to wear it down, it attracts pollen which is then close to my face and eyes.
“Wearing sunglasses stops so much pollen getting to your eyes in the first place.”
Stop pollen in its tracks
“I find using a barrier balm around my nostrils can also trap some pollen before it gets up your nose.” An aroma therapeutic balm which includes essential oils can give extra health benefits. Some essential oils can be helpful in supporting clear, easier breathing and better sleep. Oils like lavender, camomile, clove leaf, eucalyptus and lemon have been shown in studies to have useful aromatherapeutic properties.
For loads of great ideas for outdoor fun with the kids this summer check out Carol’s blog. Whether it’s building a den, making stick people or rediscovering traditional playground games like hopscotch, the best thing is it won’t cost you a penny!