Hayfever: Diet ‘can play a big part in easing symptoms or making them worse’

Dr Hilary warns against sticking garlic up nose to relieve hayfever

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The NHS says: “Hay fever is usually worse between late March and September, especially when it’s warm, humid and windy. This is when the pollen count is at its highest.” According to Lola Biggs, dietician at Together Health, what we eat, and drink can play a big part in easing symptoms or making them worse.

She said: “Dairy products like cheese and milk along with grains can stimulate the production of mucus in the nose making blocked noses and ears worse.

“Steer clear of strong, aged cheeses as these are higher in histamine while cottage cheese, ricotta and mozzarella are better as they have less histamine levels.”

She added: “When it comes to milk, I’d suggest cutting down on cow’s milk and try soya, almond or even coconut milk instead which contain medium-chain triglycerides and can have an anti-inflammatory effect.

“Sugar and processed foods can also cause the body to produce more histamine and make symptoms worse so reduce or cut them out if you can.”

The dietician continued: “Drinking alcohol can add a burden to the liver, whose job it is to clear histamine from the body.

“Darker drinks like beer, cider and red wine are higher in histamines which can exacerbate symptoms. I’d switch to clear spirits like vodka and gin or no added sulfite wines.”

She said there are also some good foods that may help ease symptoms.

Ms Biggs said: “It’s a good idea to increase your intake of antioxidants and bioflavonoids (found in vitamin C rich foods) as these can help boost your immune system and are good anti-inflammatory agents.

“Eat more kale, broccoli, kiwis, blackcurrants, and blueberries. Beta carotene rich foods can also help relieve symptoms such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, and dark leafy greens like spinach.”

She added: “Research also shows that spices such as ginger and turmeric can help reduce symptoms as they contain antioxidative and anti-inflammatory compounds.”

The NHS says symptoms of hay fever include:

  • Sneezing and coughing
  • A runny or blocked nose
  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
  • Loss of smell
  • Pain around your temples and forehead
  • Headache
  • Earache
  • Feeling tired

The health body explains: “Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, typically when it comes into contact with your mouth, nose, eyes and throat. Pollen is a fine powder from plants.”

The Mayo Clinic says see your doctor if:

  • You can’t find relief from your hay fever symptoms
  • Allergy medications don’t provide relief or cause annoying side effects
  • You have another condition that can worsen hay fever symptoms, such as nasal polyps, asthma or frequent sinus infections

It adds: “Many people — especially children — get used to hay fever symptoms, so they might not seek treatment until the symptoms become severe. But getting the right treatment might offer relief.”

The organisation says there’s no way to avoid getting hay fever. If you have hay fever, the best thing to do is to lessen your exposure to the allergens that cause your symptoms.

“Take allergy medications before you’re exposed to allergens, as directed by your doctor,” it says.

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