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  • 8 Hay fever natural remedies for quick relief

8 Hay fever natural remedies for quick relief

Treating and preventing allergies without medication

Hay fever is a highly common allergic condition that comes around every year. In the UK, as many as 44% of adults suffer from troublesome symptoms including:

  • red, watery eyes
  • sneezing
  • itching of the nose, mouth or throat
  • nasal congestion
  • fatigue

Hay fever symptoms can get in the way of everyday life and disrupt your sleep for weeks at a time. While there are many available over-the-counter and prescription treatment options, it’s best to try natural remedies first.

Keep reading to learn 8 natural remedies for allergies including how to minimise your exposure to pollen.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 16-04-2024

1. Use Vaseline

Vaseline (or petroleum jelly) is one of the best home remedies for hay fever. It’s quick, cheap and works effectively to prevent sneezing, a runny nose or nasal congestion.

Close-up of a finger covered in petroleum jelly.

Simply smear a little balm in and around your nostrils before leaving your house and throughout the day. This will help to catch pollen particles and stop them from going up your nose.

Histamine can also be found in many of the things we eat. When we consume histamine-rich foods, the level of histamine in our bodies increases. This can worsen the body’s response to allergens such as pollen, and make hay fever symptoms more noticeable.

2. Wear sunglasses

Another way of minimising pollen exposure involves wearing sunglasses whenever you go outdoors.

Pollen particles floating around in the air will not be able to come into contact with your eyes. This prevents them from going red and itchy as soon as you leave your home.

A wide-brimmed hat may also help to keep pollen out of your face.

3. Use a saline solution

Saline solution is essentially salty water - which can be great for washing pollen out from your sinuses or your eyes.

When you get home, make an effort to rinse out your nostrils using saline solution and a neti pot. This is a small container with a spout that allows you to clear your nasal passages without getting any liquid down your throat.

A young girl using a neti pot to rinse her nasal passages.

You can also use a saline eye wash to soothe itchy eyes.

Doing this before bed is likely to improve your symptoms and increase your chances of having a good night’s sleep.

4. Change your diet

Surprisingly, making changes to your diet can reduce the severity of your reaction to pollen.

Hay fever symptoms are caused by the body’s release of a natural chemical called histamine. If the body detects pollen and perceives it as a threat, it releases this chemical as a way of protecting your cells.

Histamine causes the body’s cells to swell as a means of cushioning and protecting themselves. However, this swelling (or inflammation) is also the reason for nasal congestion and other uncomfortable symptoms.

A food platter consisting of high-histamine foods like cheeses and smoked meats

Many of the foods we eat naturally contain histamine. It is commonly found in:

  • aged cheeses
  • smoked or cured meats
  • alcohol
  • tinned fish
  • some vegetables, including avocados and tomatoes

By cutting out foods that are high in histamine (by following a low-histamine diet), you reduce how much of this chemical your body can release.

This can naturally improve your hay fever symptoms, especially when done for 4 weeks or more.

5. Try quercetin

Quercetin is considered to be a natural antihistamine. It can be taken as a supplement, although it does naturally occur in some foods (such as citrus fruits and apples).

An assortment of different foods containing the chemical component quercetin.

Many studies have displayed that quercetin is high in anti-inflammatory properties and able to inhibit (stop) the release of histamine in the body. It is thought to be effective in treating a variety of allergic disorders.

For quercetin to have an impact on your hay fever symptoms, it must be taken regularly for several weeks. If possible, start taking daily supplements one month before the pollen season begins.

6. Remove outdoor clothes

Your outdoor clothes are likely to trap large amounts of pollen particles throughout the day.

To minimise your hay fever symptoms, make sure to change into clean clothes as soon as you arrive home. Showering will also wash off any pollen that’s trapped in your hair.

By wearing your outdoor clothes inside, you’re bringing the allergen into your pollen-free environment. This can worsen your symptoms and leave you suffering unnecessarily, especially at night time.

7. Vacuum more often

Even if you try your best not to bring pollen into your home, it is likely to build up over time - especially if you leave windows and doors open.

Someone cleaning their carpet with a vacuum cleaner.

Try to make a habit of vacuuming more often, especially in your bedroom. This will help to remove the allergen and prevent hay fever symptoms when you are indoors.

Pollen can also settle on shelves and units. Dusting surfaces more frequently will also make a difference.

8. Stay indoors

On days when the pollen count is particularly high, you may want to minimise your exposure to pollen as much as possible simply by staying inside.

Remember to keep your windows closed (especially on windy days) and only open doors when necessary. You could also invest in an air purifier, which helps to extract any pollen particles that do end up in your home.

Air purifiers also work for dust and pet dander, which can help to prevent other kinds of allergies from occurring at home.

When to opt for medical treatment

Unfortunately, some people continue to suffer from severe hay fever symptoms - even with natural methods of treatment and prevention.

As the pollen season lasts for months, hay fever symptoms can take a toll. If you find you’re struggling throughout the spring and summer, it may be best to try the medicinal route.

A doctor or pharmacist can recommend certain antihistamines to begin with. Depending on your symptoms, you might also benefit from taking a nasal spray or using eye drops.

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