Our changing climate is bad news for hay fever sufferers

One in five of us experience hay fever symptoms at some point. These symptoms can be worsened due to climate change and increased pollution levels.

With the current shortage of hay fever medication, we explore what alternative relief to hay fever nature can provide.

Bee within a sunflower collecting pollen

Climate change, pollution and hay fever

Pollen release is dependent on weather patterns, which are being modified as a result of climate change, making pollen levels more severe and unpredictable.

Climate change is causing people to experience hay fever symptoms earlier in the year as we experience warmer weather which stimulates the release of more pollen.

Air pollution can irritate your nose, lungs and eyes, exacerbating hay fever symptoms. Avoiding built-up areas and cities can help reduce your exposure to air pollution and reduce symptoms.

Get pollen savvy

There are also various ways to dodge pollen and reduce symptoms:

  • Check the pollen forecast so you can plan ahead to reduce the impact as much as possible.
  • Avoid built-up areas to lower exposure to air pollution.
  • The less that pollen gets into eyes, nose and onto your face the better. Wash your face and hands more often, and wear sunglasses to help. You can create a barrier around your nose with a smear of Vaseline too.
  • On days of exceptionally high pollen levels, changing clothes, washing hands, and wiping/washing the face can remove pollen after exposure.

Alternatives to medications in short supply

For those who experience mild hay fever symptoms, natural remedies may be effective as opposed to over the counter medications that are currently in short supply. Many antihistamines can cause unwanted side effects such as drowsiness which can be avoided by choosing natural remedies.

Here are some examples of remedies suggested to reduce hay fever symptoms.

A mug of chamomile tea with chamomile flowers

  • The pollen in honey is said to desensitise your body to other pollen. Use local honey for the best results – this also reduces food miles environmental impact.
  • Vitamin C is a known natural antihistamine – oranges are a great source of this vitamin supplements could also be used.
  • Red and chilli peppers contain capsaicin which opens the nasal passages by incorporating them into your diet to reduce congestion.
  • Chamomile tea is another antioxidant and natural antihistamine containing flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory properties.

Please ensure that if you usually experience severe symptoms or experience more severe symptoms as a result of substituting medication for natural remedies, you consult the advice of your GP.