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Health > Hay Fever

Hay Fever

Hay Fever Fact Sheet

H ay Fever results from an allergy to inhaled dusts - usually grass pollen.

What to look for

Attacks, often seasonal, of:

  • sneezing
  • itchy, painful nose, throat.
  • nasal and sinus discharge.
  • stuffy, runny nose.
  • coughing
  • watery, itchy eyes.
  • head and nasal congestion.

Hay fever is an immune disorder characterised by an allergic response.
A hay fever attack can last between 15 and 20 minutes and may recur several times a day during your hay fever season. The attacks are usually not dangerous.


Hayfever sufferers have an immune system which regards harmless allergens as harmful and dangerous. Consequently your body wants to rid itself of this alleged ‘bad’ substance, so it floods the bloodstream with histamine which is the chemical causing all your symptoms.
Doctors do not know why some people's immune systems tend to overreact to pollen and other substances. It is probable that there is a genetic cause.

Traditional Treatment

If you should experience an attack it is highly advisable to go to the doctor who will prescribe medication to control the symptoms. However, the best way to treat hayfever is to prevent it from occurring by avoiding exposure to the suspect allergens.
Mild cases of hay fever can be controlled with over-the-counter antihistamines.
Some over-the-counter nasal sprays contain both a decongestant and an antihistamine.
Be aware that over-the-counter nasal sprays and drops may be addictive and should be used sparingly.
Another avenue to try is allergy shots.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Aromatherapy - Inhalations of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), peppermint (Mentha piperita), or hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) may help to ease the irritation and pain.
Chinese Herbs - Ephedra (Ephedra sinica) is a hay fever and allergy remedy. Chinese herbalists say that it is best used for short periods in combination with other herbs. A herbalist may combine ephedra with liquorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis).
In some people, ephedra can produce side effects and is best used under the supervision of a Chinese herbalist. Ginseng (Panax ginseng) is compatible with ephedra as well.
Commonly used expectorants include pinellia (Pinellia ternata), cynanchum (Cynanchum stautoni), and polygala (Polygala tenuifolia). Consult a Professional for more information.
Herbal Therapies - The following mixture may help you - Infuse in 1 cup boiled water for 10 minutes: 2 parts elder (Sambucus nigra), 1 part ephedra (Ephedra sinica), 1 part eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis), and 1 part goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis).
Be aware that ephedra may be too stimulating for children and may give adults certain side effects - always check before using.
You may be able to slow down your body's mucus production with goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), garlic (Allium sativum), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), or agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria).
Irritated eyes could be bathed with compresses soaked in either eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) or chamomile (Matricaria recutita); make a tea from the leaves and dilute it by 50 percent with water or saline solution before using to soak the compresses.
Homoeopathy - For watery, hot eyes, a burning nasal discharge with sneezing, and symptoms that feel worse late at night, try Arsenicum album.
If your eyes feel inflamed and very watery, your nose is blocked at night but has a watery discharge during the day, and you have a headache, consider using Euphrasia.
Pulsatilla can help if your symptoms are - thick, yellow mucus accompanied by a loss of taste and smell and are made worse by warm rooms but are better outdoors.
If your watery, itchy eyes and sneezing, runny nose with a burning discharge become worse in a warm room, try Allium cepa.
You will need professional advice for proper doses of these remedies.

Personal Care

The best way to combat the allergens that are assaulting you is to avoid them.
Keep windows closed and the air conditioning turned on.
Avoid mowing your lawn or raking leaves since these activities stir up pollens. If you must do yard work yourself, wear a filtered mask and protective glasses. Wash your face, hands, and hair and rinse your eyes when coming in from outdoors to avoid leaving traces of pollen on your pillow.
Keep your house very clean and wear a mask while cleaning to avoid breathing in any allergens.

Dietary Considerations

It is advised that refined sugar and the protein in dairy products, are mucus-producing substances that are best avoided during hay fever season.
Some researchers believe that honey has a desensitising and anti-allergic effect that may relieve some hay fever symptoms.
Also it is advisable to avoid certain foods - wheat, eggs, peanut butter, dairy products, alcohol, white flour breads, biscuits and cakes if you are allergic to them as well as any other foods known to cause you problems (chocolate, shellfish, cheese, fish).
You may also try an elimination diet to pin point the particular foods which are the culprits.

When to seek further professional advice

  • your condition becomes so severe and uncontrollable that it interferes with your life.

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