Are you suffering from a blocked nose caused by hay fever? You are not alone. Millions of people in the UK suffer from hay fever every year. In this blog, we will show you how to treat a blocked nose at home. But before we do that, let's talk about what hay fever actually is.
What Is Hay Fever?
Also known as allergic rhinitis, hay fever is an irritation or inflammation of the nose. The symptoms of hay fever may include a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, itchiness in the throat or roof of the mouth, itchy nose and skin, watery eyes, postnasal drip, and nasal congestion. These symptoms may linger if hay fever is left untreated.
What Causes Hay Fever?
Hay fever is usually caused by allergens like pollen, mould, fungi, perfume, cigarette smoke, dust mites, and pet dander. These allergens are harmless but sometimes, the body’s immune system overreacts to these substances when they enter the body. As a result, your body produces histamines and other chemicals which are the culprit of the hay fever symptoms we’ve discussed above.
How Long Is Hay Fever Season?
Hay fever season in the UK usually begins in the early spring and summer months. Below are some of the allergens commonly present during this period:
- May and July – grass pollen
- February and September – tree pollen
- June and September – weed pollen
Take note that hay fever can be perennial (all year) too. This kind of hay fever is usually caused by indoor allergens like dust, mould, and pet fur.
Treating Your Blocked Nose Caused by Hay Fever
A stuffy nose is caused by inflamed blood vessels (caused by flu, colds, infection, or allergy) in your sinuses. A blocked nose can be a right nuisance, especially when all you want to do is enjoy some fresh air. Luckily, there are some easy ways to fix it. Read below:
1. Take a hot shower
Steam from a hot shower reduces the inflammation in your nose. It also helps thin out the mucus. So, the next time you find yourself bogged down by a blocked nose, consider hopping into the bathroom and enjoy a warm shower.
You can also get the same results by breathing in steam from a pot of hot water. How to do it? Simply put a towel over your head and place your head over the hot water. Let steam build-up for some time and then take deep breaths.
2. Use a humidifier in your room
Breathing in moist air can help soothe your swollen blood vessels and irritated sinuses. Humidifiers can also help to thin out mucus. Humidifiers work by converting water into moisture that slowly fills the air around you. It's a must-have, especially during hay fever season.
3. Use a warm compress
It’s very easy to make a warm compress. Simply soak a clean towel in a bowl of warm water. Squeeze out the excess water and then fold it. Place the warm compress over your nose or forehead. A warm compress can provide relief from a blocked nose by opening your nasal passages. It can also help provide some comfort and reduce the inflammation in your nostrils.
4. Buy a saline nasal spray
A saline spray is just a saltwater solution. You spray it into your nostrils to increase moisture and to thin out the mucus that’s been blocking your nasal passages. Saline sprays also help decrease the inflammation in your sinuses.
Some saline sprays are medicated. For example, this mometasone nasal spray is a saline spray infused with corticosteroids (mometasone) that work by reducing the inflammation and swelling in your nose. Corticosteroids can also help relieve other symptoms caused by hay fever such as sneezing and itchy, watery eyes.
5. Take allergy medicines
Another way to relieve your blocked nose is by taking allergy medicines, usually antihistamines. These drugs work by countering the effect of histamines which are produced by your body when you have hay fever. Histamines cause most of the symptoms of hay fever including a stuffy nose. Antihistamines can help reduce the swelling in your sinuses and relieve your nasal congestion.
Keep in mind that some antihistamines can make you feel drowsy. Don’t take them when you need to be active (like working or driving).
6. Drink liquids
Staying hydrated can help unblock your nose. Liquids (i.e. water, juice, or sports drinks) thin out the mucus in your nasal passages, making it easier to breathe clearly. This relieves pressure on your sinuses. Thus, reducing the irritation and inflammation.
If your blocked nose comes with a sore throat, try warm tea or soup to help soothe your irritated throat too.
Remember that hay fever symptoms will not go away as long as you are still exposed to the allergen that’s causing it. All you can do is manage your symptoms.
But prevention is better than cure. Lifestyle changes like the following can help you prevent hay fever:
- Not going outside when the pollen count is high
- Keeping your doors and windows shut
- Keeping pets outside the house
- Cleaning your house
- Not smoking inside
- Planting a low-allergen garden
- Damping dust regularly using a wet cloth to prevent it from collecting