MILLIONS of Brits are plagued by hay fever every year with many battling with symptoms such as itchy eyes and a runny nose.
Pollen levels have soared this year due to a hot summer which has seen many places in the UK reach over 30C.
Al Williams said he stings himself with nettles to stop his hay fever symptoms[/caption]
Many people who suffer from hay fever will have itchy or red eyes, eye drops can also be used to relieve these symptoms.
Experts have also claimed that hay fever is worse this year due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Some say that this has stopped pollution getting to ground level – which would usually block large swathes of pollen.
While most people tend to stick to taking antihistamines or other over the counter relief such as the HayMax balms, some have gone to extreme lengths to stop their hay fever returning.
“I sting myself with nettles”
One sufferer has claimed that he deliberately stings himself with nettles to help curb his symptoms.
Al Williams says people mark the arrival of spring in different ways – but claims this time of year means he has to put “operation nettle” into place.
The 50-year-old from Bristol has had hay fever for years and says he has finally found a solution to his problems.
“I deliberately sting myself with nettles every week to help deal with the symptoms of my terrible hay fever. And I’m completely convinced it really helps.
“I’ve always had hay fever, although for years I had terrible sinus trouble that often left me with debilitating headaches, so I chalked it up to that.”
Five years ago Al was diagnosed with chronic sinusitis. He had corrective surgery and his surgeon said he could tell he was a hay fever sufferer, but said his symptoms may have been shielded due to the issues with his sinuses.
Sadly he was right, the headaches disappeared, but the following spring my eyes itched and streamed, I was sneezing and coughing and I completely lost my voice – a real blow as I sing a lot as a hobby.
“I was fed up feeling so awful so started to do some research, which is how I stumbled upon the nettle theory.
“It’s the idea being that by stinging yourself you force a natural histamine reaction, effectively normalising it in your body which means it then has a lesser histamine reaction when the pollen comes in.
“I thought I had nothing to lose, so took myself out and ran my forearms along a bank of nettles in a local park.”
After this Al said he developed a rash which itched for 24 hours.
The next few times he decided to sting himself, he said it wasn’t so bad.
“Over time the stinging results in little more than just a few bumps and little mild itching which only lasts ten minutes or so.
“I have done it every year since as soon as the nettles appear in spring.
“It’s made a huge difference: don’t lose my voice anymore – I’m not sneezing all the time and my eyes aren’t running. It may not be for everyone – but it works for me.”
“I thought I had Covid-19, but it was hay fever”
Kimberly Burton’s symptoms make her eyes puffy [/caption]
Since the beginning of March many hay fever sufferers have been told to keep an eye on their symptoms as many can be similar to the coronavirus.
Clinical care dietician Kimberly Burton didn’t have hay fever when she was younger and said it “came out of nowhere” in her early 20s.
The 30-year-old from Nottingham said that over the years her symptoms got worse and led her to visit her GP.
She said the condition has even had an impact on her job and added that sometimes her eyes are so puffy that people think she has a black eye.
“So I’m used to all the symptoms – but this year, about a month ago, I woke up to find my sense of taste had disappeared overnight – something the government had recently said was a recognised symptom of Covid-19.
“I rang 111 – who said as this was a clear symptom the guidance was I would need to get tested.
“I was really worried. Part of me was still convinced it was hay fever, but then I spoke to a friend who had also lost her sense of taste, thought it was hay fever then tested positive for the coronavirus.”
As a health worker Kimberly said it was “pretty straightforward” for her to get a test and the results came back the next day and were thankfully negative.
“Now though I’m worried that if I lose my sense of taste again – which I may well do, if this is a new symptom I’ve developed – then I am going to have to have a Covid-19 test every time”, she added.
Kimberly believed she had contracted Covid-19 when she had a serious bout of hayfever [/caption]
“Becoming a mum gave me hay fever”
While Kimberly only developed hay fever later on in life, one woman says it was motherhood that spurred on her symptoms.
Hannah Boothby is mum to eight-year-old Tyler and Emmett, 2.
The 29-year-old from Milton Keynes said that within weeks of giving birth to her second child Emmett, she started sneezing horrendously and developed really itchy eyes and a scratchy sore throat.
Hannah put it down to post birth fatigued and hormones and her health adviser at the time agreed that this was likely the case.
5 tips for easing hay fever symptoms
Hay fever can make enjoying the outdoors a nightmare during he summer months. Here, airborne allergens expert and creator of HayMax allergen barrier balms, Max Wiseberg, shares his tips for reducing symptoms…
Antihistamine tablets, capsules and sprays can relieve most hay fever symptoms – sneezing, itchy, runny eyes, skin irritation, itchy nose and throat – but are less effective for nasal congestion.
Although strong antihistamines can be prescribed by a GP, most people buy antihistamines over the counter in a pharmacy.
These usually contain either Cetirizine or Loratadine. If one doesn’t work for you, you can try the other one.
Some contain chlorphenamine and these are more liable to make you drowsy. All antihistamines can make you drowsy and it is illegal to drive if they do. It is also dangerous to operate machinery.
2. Steroid nasal sprays
Steroid nasal sprays help reduce inflammation in the nose.
They work best for clearing nasal symptoms – itching, sneezing, watering and congestion – although sprays sometimes clear eye symptoms too.
Again, look for the active ingredients – beclomethasone, budesonide, fluticasone or mometasone – own brand versions can be cheaper.
3. Allergen barrier balms
Organic drug-free allergen barrier balms such as HayMax are applied to the nostrils and bones of the eyes in the morning and throughout the day.
They are used to stop allergens from entering the body through the nose.
They are especially useful as they can be used immediately, together with other hay fever products and are suitable for children and pregnant and breastfeeding women.”
4. Immune support
Taking products that can help boost your immune system can be useful.
Bee Prepared Daily Defence Immune Support is an immune boosting wellness formula for adults and children that contains all natural ingredients which have a history of benefits and clinically researched actions which help support the immune system.
Please note that this product isn’t suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding mums.
5. Acupressure bands
Acupressure is a non-invasive form of acupuncture, achieved by applying physical pressure of hands, elbows, feet or devices to the same acupuncture points.
It is used in a wide variety of conditions including hay fever. The Qu-Chi Hay Fever Band uses acupressure to target key pressure points on the body associated with allergy symptoms.
The band is worn on one of these pressure points, the elbow. Adult and child sizes are available. This product is not suitable for pregnant women
“It didn’t even occur to me it could be hay fever – even though my husband Joel, who has had it since he was a boy, kept telling me I had all the symptoms.
“I stuck to my guns – as far as I saw it I didn’t suffer from allergies and I was just run down from the sleepless nights of being a new mum.”
She said after a few weeks her symptoms became similar to her husband’s and he suggested that she try one of his anti histamines.
Hannah said that this made a big difference.
“Grudgingly I had to accept that I had hay fever after all – and the only thing that had changed in my life in the last few months was having a baby.
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“I was so intrigued that I googled whether giving birth can give you hay fever and found there while there is nothing conclusive out there were quite a few other mums who had experienced the same thing.
“Either way, it seems to me to be too much of a coincidence – and I can’t help wondering whether the fact that Emmett has a cow’s milk allergy is somehow linked.”
She said the itchy eyes are the worst part and said to soothe them she sometimes put cold chamomile tea bags on her eyes that she has kept in the fridge over night.
“It’s annoying, but it’s a small price to pay for having my lovely boy”, she added.