WOKEN up with a runny nose and itchy eyes?
You might think you’re coming down with a cold, but it could actually be the early signs of hay fever.
Experts say hay fever season has already begun with the pollen count soaring – three weeks sooner than expected.
It’s all thanks to the unusually warm winter, which saw temperatures soaring to highs of 21C.
Birch tree pollen – which affects one in four hay fever sufferers – is already being released across the country – and it could be catching millions out.
But there are ways to tackle pollen allergies, from having more sex to showering before bed.
Here are eight expert tips to help stifle the sniffles…
1. Have more sex
Scientists in Iran claimed to have discovered a link between the nasal and reproductive systems.
They said that during orgasm the nervous system constricts blood vessels, which can ease a blocked nose and clear streaming eyes.
Neurologist Sina Zarrintan, author of the study published in the journal Medical Hypotheses, said his method would be a lot more pleasurable and far cheaper than taking antihistamines.
He said: “It can be done from time to time to alleviate the congestion and the patient can adjust the number of intercourses depending on the severity of the symptoms.”
2. Shower at night
Not only will a night time shower rid you of all the dirt from the day, it will also wash off any stray pollen.
Sleep expert, Neil Robinson, said: “You might be a fan of a cool shower to wake you up first thing in the morning, but if your allergy symptoms get worse at night, it may be worth considering shaking up your shower routine.
“At the end of a long day, your hair, skin and clothes will be covered in micro-particles of dust and pollen, especially if you’re spent long periods outside enjoying the sunshine.
“A quick shower before settling down for the night can help remove these allergens before you sleep, reducing night time symptoms.”
3. Take antihistamines at the right time
The once-a-day tablets can help ease the pesky symptoms of hay fever, but WHEN you take them could make a huge difference.
If your symptoms are worse around midday – as most sufferers’ are – then taking them first thing in the morning will be your best protection.
But if they make you drowsy then you’re best taking them at night.
Dr Sarah Jarvis told The Sun: “Part of the problem with hay fever is it depends on when your symptoms start, pollen counts tend to be higher during the day.
“So we normally say if you are going to go out, go out early in the morning or late in the evening as pollen counts tend to be lower then.”
4. Wash your sheets
It may not sound like a hay fever cure, but washing your sheets can really help.
“The average person washes their bed sheets once every two weeks but in the summer months, twice a month is not enough to keep allergens at bay,” said Neil.
“In hay fever season, consider washing your sheets once a week to keep sheets free of pollen, as well as dust and other particles that might make symptoms worse.
“A hot wash will also help. In a study, scientists found that washing items at hotter temperatures was more effective at removing traces of tree pollen, so when you wash your sheets, make sure it’s at a temperature of 40C or above – ideally at least 60C.”
5. Banish pets
Don’t worry, you don’t have to get rid of your beloved pooch, just don’t let him sleep in the bedroom.
Neil said: “Pet fur can be a magnet for pollen, dust and other allergens, meaning you’ll be the one to suffer when they climb into your bed late at night.
“With 10 per cent of people banishing their partner from the bedroom to make room for their furry friend, it might be time to evict your pet and invite your partner back in during the summer months if you don’t want your allergy symptoms to flare up.”
6. Get the right bedding
If you have allergies, buy bedding that is specifically designed to keep dust and other nasties at bay.
“When it comes to the environment you sleep in, your mattress can be one of the biggest aggravators of allergy symptoms,” Neil said.
“The average mattress can contain tens and thousands of dust mites and their waste, which are a serious irritant for people with allergies.
“It can be hard to banish dust mites for good, but a high-quality mattress which holds the Allergy UK seal of approval can help.
“If you suffer from an allergy, purotex microcapsules and tencel fibres are good materials to look out for when choosing a new mattress.”
7. Change into PJs
As soon as you get home, no matter where you have been, it’s a good idea to get changed.
That way whatever pollen is on your clothes is away from you and you symptoms will start to get better.
It will also stop you spreading irritants throughout your house.
8. Eat more berries
Dark berries and red grapes contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which fight inflammation.
Red grapes have resveratrol, an anti-inflammatory compound, and they protect against nasal allergy symptoms and wheezing.
9. Put Vaseline in your nose
This may sound slightly bizarre, but putting petroleum jelly like Vaseline under your nose can really help.
That’s because it catches tiny particles of pollen or pollution before they enter your nose.
Once they are trapped they can’t irritate your airways and set of your hay fever symptoms.
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