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Pollen bomb: a phrase that we hear every year as we step into the Summer months. It’s a warning of a higher pollen count caused by hot weather. What do I really want to know? How do we stop the sneezes and watery eyes?
Google Trends data reveals UK searches for ‘hay fever symptoms’ jumped 289% at the beginning of June as households searched for help with allergies. Hay fever-related searches reach a year-high in June, as grass pollen, the most common allergen, peaks during the first two weeks, according to the Met Office. Hay fever issues appear to be more widespread than ever – Google searches for ‘antihistamines’ are up 362% over the last 20 years, reaching an all-time high last June.
Anecdotally, this is also the time of year that pregnant and breastfeeding Mama’s search for relief from hay fever, with many pharmacists refusing to give anti-histamine over the counter (this is due to lack of drug studies and research on the pregnant and breastfeeding populations). If you’re one of these Mum’s, check out the Breastfeeding network’s Hay fever factsheet or NHS’s guidance for some helpful info!
Experts at Bed Kingdom have also revealed seven easy ways to reduce allergens and stop the sneezes at home. These tips will help keep allergens outside and save you from waking up with red eyes, a blocked nose, and a scratchy throat.
Wear a sleeping mask at night
The NHS advises wearing wraparound sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes during the day. Wearing a sleeping or cooling mask at night can help achieve the same effect and prevents pollen from transferring from your bedding into your eyes as you sleep.
Shower and change clothes after being outside
Pollen collects on us throughout the day, sticking to our clothes, hair, and skin. If you’ve been outside, shower and change your clothes and shoes to wash off and eliminate particles, helping to prevent spreading onto bed sheets and throughout the home. Avoid walking on grass where possible to avoid direct contact with pollen.
Keep windows and doors shut in the morning
Try to keep windows and doors shut when pollen is being released and the count is highest, usually from the morning until around midday. Pollen levels tend to drop after this point. Consider using a dehumidifier if windows must stay open.
Vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
Allergens are embedded into our carpets from culprits such as the air, shoes, and pets. Vacuuming regularly will help prevent a build-up. Take care and vacuum slowly, being too aggressive can stir dust around the room.
Vacuum areas that can be hotbeds for allergens: headboards, mattresses, carpets, and hard floors. Wipe clean flat surfaces, fans, decor, and light fixtures.
Remember to empty your vacuum outside, releasing dust outside and not back into your home.
Feather dusters can kick up dust and make allergies worse. Use a damp cloth instead to help trap allergens, removing more pollen from the home.
Choose the right bedding, and wash regularly
Consider investing in hypoallergenic bedding. Cotton, rayon, or synthetic fibres are hypoallergenic.
Pillows made from bird feathers, such as goose or duck, can hold allergens that cause hay fever-like symptoms; to stop the sneezes, consider switching to a down-alternative, which is naturally hypoallergenic, as the material is less likely to trap allergens.
Beds trap pollen, dust, and dirt, so wash bedding at least every other week on a hot cycle to discourage a buildup and keep sheets feeling fresh, encouraging a better night’s sleep.
Tip: Avoid hanging laundry outside, as it will bring pollen into the home. Use a dryer if possible.
Wash your pets, too
Pets, including birds, will carry pollen into the home. If your pet goes outside, brushing them down before letting them back in is a good idea. Use baby wipes on paws and faces. If daily grooming isn’t easy, keep animals out of the bedroom to prevent spreading pollen onto your sheets.
Stop the sneezes: swap garden plants for hypoallergenic alternatives
Nature is in full bloom, but some houseplants may worsen your symptoms.
Check if your home contains any of the following plants, which are some of the worst for hay fever:
Instead, consider low-pollen alternatives such as roses, daffodils, crocuses, lilies, or pansies.
A spokesperson from Bed Kingdom had this to say:
“Allergies are unavoidable while outside, but there’s much we can do to keep pollen out of the home. These tips will contribute to a better night’s sleep when the pollen count is high, helping you wake up refreshed rather than groggy and stuffy. And most of these suggestions will cost you less than a pack of allergy tablets!”