If you love running but are suffering with hay fever, you’ll probably be aware of just how debilitating it can be, with knock-on effects for both your performance and your energy. Hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction to pollen or other airborne allergens. Most people who suffer from hay fever are allergic to grass pollen in early summer and many are allergic to tree pollen in spring. “Avoiding the allergen is always key with any allergy, whatever it might be,” says airborne allergens expert and creator of HayMax organic allergen barrier balm Max Wiseberg. Max offers a useful selection of practical tips for athletes and runners.
“Hay fever is the most common allergy,” says Max. "About 15-20% of us in the UK suffer from hay fever. Hay fever is a result of our immune system’s overreaction to innocuous antigens such as pollen, causing the unpleasant itching, redness, inflammation and other common hay fever symptoms.
“The good news is that getting plenty of exercise helps your hay fever. If you are doing a sport or outdoor activity be sure to avoid the morning or evening when the pollen count is at it’s highest.
“Use an organic, drug free allergen barrier balm, such as HayMax, before you go out running outdoors. Applied to the nostrils and bones of the eyes, HayMax has been proven to trap over a third of pollen particles before they enter the body, where they can cause symptoms. Less pollen, less reaction!
“Wear wraparound sunglasses when running to prevent pollen particles coming in contact with your eyes. Tie long hair up and wear a cap, hat or other head cover when outside to prevent pollen particles being caught in your hair.
“Showering after sport and exercise removes pollen particles and pet hair from your hair and body, which will reduce your pollen load. Shower at night before sleeping to help get a good night’s sleep.
“Most sportspeople stay well hydrated and eat healthily, and this will also help ease your hay fever symptoms. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables will help you stay healthy and support your immune system.
“Reishi mushrooms are thought to be rich in beta-glucans, which positively affect the immune system and reduce inflammation. They contain significant levels of vitamin D2. Boosted vitamin D levels have been linked to helping reduce allergy development.
“Turmeric, commonly used in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine, is a spice containing curcumin, which has been found to have anti-allergy properties. Most often used in dried form, it can also be bought fresh, looking similar to ginger root.
“Drink responsibly. Beer, wine and spirits all contain histamine, the chemical that sets off allergy symptoms in your body. In addition to making you more sensitive to pollen, alcohol also dehydrates you, making your symptoms seem worse.
“Avoid mucus-producing dairy drinks. Excess mucus is exactly what you don’t need if you suffer from hay fever. Drink water, fruit tea, herb tea, or any non-caffeinated tea. Calendula and Chamomile tea are both reputed to relieve hay fever symptoms. Ginger and green tea work as natural anti-histamines, whilst peppermint reduces congestion. Aloe Vera has mild antihistamine properties; you can drink the juice diluted in water.
“Create your own hay fever first-aid kit. One or more natural products, such as HayMax, one antihistamine, one nasal spray and eye drops. The interesting thing about this is that many of these remedies can be complementary to each other. So if one helps, but doesn’t do the whole job, you may be able to try other remedies at the same time and get a better result. But there are rules: never take two anti-histamines together, never take two steroid nasal sprays together, and consult your pharmacist or doctor if you are already taking any other medication.”