A typical sound at this time of year, the hayfever suffer will be sneezing away. I know this experience. I am one of the blessed ones.
Hayfever affects approximately one in four people in the UK. So there are a lot of us out there.
I love the summer. I love the outdoors. At times it feels like outdoors doesn’t feel the same way about me.
What is it like to suffer from hayfever?
Each year I go into a hayfever roulette. What severity of the symptoms will I experience? When will it happen?
The common symptoms are itchy eyes, lots of sneezing, sometimes a runny, sometimes an incredibly blocked nose. I also have grass allergies, so my skin comes up blotch and itchy when I sit on the ground.
I remember one year, I was 19, and my nose was so blocked for a month that the only way to breathe was to use an unblocking spray. But I could only use that for a few days. And it was as if my body knew I was breathing under medication. The air felt wrong, and it wasn’t "natural".
There was no beating this allergy.
That was probably the worst I’ve ever had. 2020 wasn’t too bad (maybe all the pollen was being kind as we experienced lockdown), but 2021 has been a terrible year. I think the late summer has brought it on with a vengeance.
It can be relentless for a few weeks or months of the year. You don’t sleep as well. As a result, everything feels that much more lethargic.
Yes, there is medication. I have mixed experiences with it. I’m not too fond of the drowsy feelings that some anti-histamines give me.
Ways of combating hayfever
We can certainly do things to make the summer a more pleasant training experience for those of us who suffer from hayfever.
There are masks you can get that are specific to filtering out allergies. I’ve used one on and off for years - way before they became so socially acceptable.
They do help. But masks also make it very hot and humid when you breathe. The better something is at stopping something come in, the worse it is and letting something go out. Masks block pollen coming in, but they make it harder for air to go out.
Respro does an anti-allergy mask which I have used.
Timing of exercise
The time you train and also the conditions you exercise in will make a huge difference.
A warm day will more than likely have higher pollen counts. And then the evenings after a warm day, as the pollen settles back down to the ground, can be challenging for hayfever sufferers.
Pollen is released in the morning, and so counts will be high then. If exercising, you need to get out before dawn. Otherwise, it’s too late!
It can be the middle of the day where pollen counts are at their lowest, but that brings other complications for training, including the sun.
There might be days where you can’t train. But, if you can be flexible with your exercise and train on days with lower pollen counts, it might make all the difference.
Haha, Pollen. You can’t get me in the water!
There is something to be said about perhaps training somewhere that pollen can’t get you. A few mornings ago, I went swimming, and it was glorious. I felt invincible from all the sneezing attacks.
You may find indoor training to be more beneficial at this time. Switching up a run for some indoor cycling, the cross trainer, or even a treadmill may give you the relief you need
Especially if you suffer from a tight chest, giving your body longer to warm up before training sessions do help. Give yourself time to acclimatise to being outside will support your session.
Wash your clothes...and yourself!
This isn’t a plea to get you cleaner.
Pollen will attach itself to you and your clothes. So regularly washing your clothes and yourself will give the pollen less opportunity to stick.
Your hair especially is a beautiful place for pollen to remain.
When drying your clothes, do this inside. Again, the pollen won’t be able to stick to them when you keep them indoors.
Oh Honey Honey
Eating some local honey can do wonders to reducing your hayfever symptoms. It gets your body used to the local flora and might make all the difference.
To all you hayfever sufferers out there - Good Luck this summer. Do reach out if you have more tips or want to chat about your experiences. We love hearing from you.