The pollen count has been forecast as moderate across the UK today by the Met Office, but this could still spell trouble for hay fever sufferers. During this time of year, pollen from birch trees, ash trees and oak trees trigger symptoms in those with an allergy – symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy eyes and coughing. Recommended treatments for hay fever include antihistamine tablets and nasal sprays, but these don’t always work for everyone. And as a result, many people look to more natural remedies.
Over the years, some alternative ways to prevent hay fever have become popular, such as eating local honey, putting sticky balms around your nostrils and standing in front of an open fridge door.
But according to pollen expert Dr Jean Emberlin, these preventive methods aren’t effective.
Putting sticky balms around the nostrils to catch pollen before it enters the body is recommended by many health professionals.
But according to Dr Emberlin, this only catches some pollen from air flow, and the majority is still ingested.
She said: “I usually use the analogy of a chimney stack and smoke going up.
“If you put something sticky around the bottom, it will catch some of the smoke, but the majority of it will continue up the chimney.
“There have been some experiments done on the effectiveness of sticky balms in stopping pollen entering the body, and they’ve shown it’s not enough to make a difference.”
Eating local honey
Many people believe eating local honey can help protect the immune system against hay fever, because bees handle pollen.
But hay fever’s main trigger is wind dispersed pollen, for example pollen from trees and grass.
Dr Emberlin said: “I’ve looked into lots of honey and never seen a grass pollen grain in honey, so there’s no scientific basis for that at all.
“Honey could be good in other ways, but not for this purpose.”
Standing in front of an open fridge door
Many hay fever sufferers claim it helps them to stand in front of an open fridge door.
But again, there is no evidence to back this. Dr Emberlin advised: “The cool air flow may be comforting, but it’s unlikely your hay fever symptoms will disappear.”
Preventive methods for hay fever Dr Emberlin recommends include:
- Avoiding alcohol
- Avoiding polluted places/high pollen count
- Making sure your vitamin and minerals levels are topped up to keep your immune system in good shape
- Avoiding stress
- Avoiding chlorinated swimming pools, as this can make symptoms worse
Some experts recommend taking supplements to help hay fever symptoms.