Five tips to reduce hay fever symptoms

Your lifestyle can affect how severe your hay fever symptoms are.

Download a free social pollen count app to your mobile phone. It lets you check the daily pollen forecast in your area on an interactive heat map generated from tweets from other hay fever sufferers.

A 2010 report (PDF, 6.67Mb), based on a survey of more than 2,000 people with hay fever, found that lifestyle factors, such as stress and exercise, can have a major impact on hay fever. Follow these tips to stop the sneezing.

1. Calm down

Try to reduce your stress levels. The survey showed a clear link between stress and the severity of hay fever symptoms. Almost seven out of ten stressed-out hay fever sufferers rate their symptoms as unbearable or debilitating. As stress levels drop, symptoms become milder. For more information, read about stress management.

2. Exercise more

Regular exercise can improve your hay fever. The survey found that people with hay fever who exercise most have the mildest symptoms. Exercise will help reduce your stress levels, too.

Aim to do 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as cycling and fast walking, every week. However, during hay fever season, it's best to avoid exercising outdoors when the pollen count is high. This is generally first thing in the morning and early evening. Instead, exercise in late morning or afternoon when pollen counts tend to be lowest. If pollen counts are really high, stick to indoor exercise, for example at your local gym or swimming pool.

For more information and practical advice on exercise, read about getting fit.

3. Eat well

The survey suggests that people with hay fever who eat a healthy diet are less likely to get severe symptoms.

Eat a varied, balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, but be aware than some healthy foods can make hay fever symptoms worse. Foods that can worsen hay fever symptoms include apples, tomatoes, stoned fruits, melons, bananas and celery.

For more tips and information, read about eating healthily.

4. Cut down on alcohol

Watch how much you drink at your summer picnics! Alcohol worsens hay fever. Beer, wine and other spirits contain histamine, the chemical that sets off allergy symptoms in your body. As well as making you more sensitive to pollen, alcohol also dehydrates you, making your symptoms seem worse.

For more advice on how to cut down on your drinking, read these articles about alcohol.

5. Sleep well

Try to avoid too many late nights during the hay fever season. The survey found that people with hay fever who get a good night’s sleep tend to have the mildest symptoms. Just one in eight (13%) people who had at least seven hours sleep a night reported severe symptoms, compared with one in five (21%) who regularly had five hours sleep or less a night.

For help getting a good night's sleep, read about sleeping better.

Read about treating hay fever.

Page last reviewed: 23/05/2012

Next review due: 23/05/2014

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The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

hlkent said on 18 June 2013

Eating healthy, exercise, getting enough sleep and cutting down on alcohol seems to be a solution to most health related issues.

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hayfever1 said on 21 June 2012

As a sufferer of severe hay fever, I think that the analysis of the survey data is very poor and the "findings" are completely the opposite of the reality in some cases.

The correlation drawn between stress levels and symptom severity is no doubt correct, but was it taken into account that in fact hay fever causes stress and stress levels increase proportional to symptom severity, rather than the opposite conclusion drawn here.

The second conclusion that severe symptoms are caused by lack of sleep is ludicrous for anybody suffering from severe hay fever. Severe hay fever causes sleep deprivation due to congested nasal passages preventing uninterrupted sleep.

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