“Earrings are the same as sneezes. Two is okay, but ten in a row is annoying.” — Demetri Martin
Do you feel it? Birds singing… flowers bursting open like slo-mo fireworks… lusty bees buzzing… Spring — Real Spring — is in the air, my friends. And in our noses and eyes and lungs.
Allergic rhinitis affects one-fifth of Australians on average but in Canberra, it’s one in THREE. The very thing that makes our Bush capital gorgeous is also the cause of our hayfever misery: exotic plant life. European trees such as elm, larch and oak adorn many streets around Canberra and are notorious for provoking allergic reactions. Add the plethora of grass and weed pollens swirling around on a warmish spring day, and soon everyone’s got their own signature cocktail sneezer. I’m calling mine a Wheezy Sour.
Exercise may seem like the last thing you want to do when you’re leaking like an old tap, but it actually helps relieve symptoms. A survey undertaken by the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit of more than 2,000 hayfever sufferers found that those who exercised more had the mildest symptoms compared to those who exerted the least physical effort in their day-to-day.
So how can we keep the spluttering at bay long enough to fit some exercising in? We’ve compiled some ideas.
1. Stay Indoors
That’s pretty much the obvious one —keep your exercising indoors and the pollens out of reach from your nose, eyes, and lungs. And have we got a great selection of fitness classes for you to choose from, including brand new Zumba! (See advert below.)
2. Protect yourself out there
Pollen levels fluctuate across the day and across plant life. Grass apparently release their pollen from around 7:30am while trees such as Birch release pollen in the afternoon. Pollen counts are highest on hot days and on days when a dry wind blows. Factor in bursts of pollen gratitude after light rain and thunderstorms, and then something called a pollen shower each evening when those bad boys drift back to the ground as the air cools, and what can I tell you… Canberra is potentially Pollen Central morning, noon and night.
If you need to exercise outdoors, it’s a good idea to know what the pollen situation is around you. Apps like Canberra Pollen Count (Android | Apple) and sites like weather.com and weatherzone give a read of the pollen count for the day. Avoid plant-dense areas such as parks and gardens, wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes, and rub Vaseline around the edges of your nostrils as a pollen barrier.
3. Don’t bring the outdoors back in
The most efficient way to deal with pollen allergies is to minimise your contact with those flighty monsters — and that includes not bringing them home with you.
Especially bad outside today? Throw your clothes in the wash as soon as you get in and don’t hang them outside to dry as you’ll just be bringing home another batch when you take them in. Consider taking a top-to-toe shower before bed as well — this way, you won’t transfer pollen to your pillow. Dust your home often and try to keep your windows and doors closed on warmer, windier spring days.
4. Get the right fuels
Apart from antihistamines, here’s a few other tips to help your ENT survive this spring.
While spring can feel like a cause for celebration, try to ease up on the tipple if you’re battling hayfever — especially the evening before a workout. Alcohol aggravates nasal congestion and also messes with the way your histamine levels fight allergies.
And while it’s widely believed that dairy causes mucus, dairy actually kicks up some anti-inflammatory action. Meals with garlic and onion not only taste fab but contain quercertin, a natural anti-histamine that will help fight hay fever symptoms.
Armed and ready? Here’s to a minimally hayfeverish spring!