To a great extent, relief also depends on how well you can avoid airborne allergens. In fact, the first thing most allergy doctors usually tell their hay fever patients is: ‘Avoid whatever bothers you.’ But that advice is only useful if you’re also told exactly how to avoid the problem. You can install an air filter in your bedroom, however. Giving yourself eight solid hours of breathable air every night goes a long way towards round-the-clock relief. For some people, flicking on an air filter has been known to relieve hay fever misery in as little as ten minutes.
Another way to ‘filter’ pollen is to rinse your hair and change your clothes and shoes the minute you come in from working or playing outdoors. This helps to shed pollen grains that would tend to stir up symptoms if allowed to stay on your clothes.
Reducing your exposure to other common hay fever triggers – such as dust and moulds – can be just as simple. For instance, switching from a conventional bag-type vacuum cleaner to a more efficient and thorough water-trap vacuum cleaner will help you to get all the dust out of a room. And hooking up a dehumidifier (the kind you can buy in any department store) in the basement or bathroom cuts down on growth of moulds and mildew.
The odours of aerosol air fresheners and other household cleaning products can also aggravate your hay fever. Substituting simple, less noxious cleaning agents for complex chemical products cuts down on indoor air pollution and can leave you breathing more freely after just a day or two. You can follow as few or as many recommendations as you see fit, depending on what sets off your hay fever. Most people, however, notice a big improvement after making just a few of the basic changes we suggest.
One last suggestion: if you smoke, try to quit. Smoking irritates the respiratory tract and will only aggravate your already beleaguered nose and airways. In fact, Stuart Freyer, an ear-nose-and-throat specialist in Bennington, Vermont, told us, ‘Smoking is madness for anyone who suffers from hay fever.’