Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Taking control of my hayfever once and for all!

From the age of six I have suffered from severe hayfever.  I went out in the field behind my house a normal, happy, healthy girl and came back with bulging red eyes that resulted in a trip to A&E. I am now 31 and there have been many more trips to the doctor and hospital. I have tried absolutely everything, from conventional methods to the more alternative, including acupuncture and homeopathy.   Nothing has ever really worked for me. Some medication has taken the edge off symptoms momentarily but essentially summer has always been a real struggle.

Hay fever is caused by an allergy to pollen. Common hay fever symptoms are a runny, itchy and/or blocked nose, sneezing and itchy eyes. I suffer from all of these and more. My eyes aren’t just itchy but they swell and develop a film so that I find it difficult to see. Hayfever makes me feel really unwell most of the time throughout summer. A constant sore scratchy throat, a headache and I often feel nauseous due to the constant congestion. Not to mention the sore red nose, disappearing make up and my skin even seems to flare up when it’s really bad. Everything itches and it makes you feel agitated. You itch from the inside out, your ears, your eyes, your throat and your mouth.  Sleeping with a blocked nose means you tend to keep your mouth open and I find I get a sore mouth too. I like to think that I am usually on the ball but during hayfever season everything seems such a struggle and I’m just not as sharp as I usually am. It makes me feel absolutely exhausted too and I am woken up by sniffling and sneezing by about 4:30-5:00 every morning.
Throughout school and college it made exam season extremely hard and affected my social life too. Summer is a time when you want to be outside but it just makes the symptoms worse so I often have to sit in with the windows closed, even though I am a real outdoors kind of girl. It just makes you feel miserable and no matter how positive you try and remain, it wears you down both physically and mentally.

 I moved in with my boyfriend 5 years ago and I remember how shocked he was the first summer we lived together. I used to come home from work at 6:00, take another antihistamine to help me sleep and would head straight to bed because I just couldn’t handle being awake because of my hayfever symptoms. I'm normally quite fun to be around but hayfever makes me miserable It got to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. I spoke to my GP about desensitisation injections but I would have to wait until after the hayfever season to start and I was desperate to try something that would help sooner.

On the recommendation of my best friend I went to visit Natasha Lindeman.  Natasha is a homeopathic practitioner and she uses a bio magnetic diagnosis technique. She advised me to stop consuming dairy in my diet and also recommended a selection of homeopathic remedies. I decided to try eliminating dairy before trying the homeopathic remedies. I was sceptical before the appointment but it absolutely changed my life. After cutting dairy my symptoms were still there but they were drastically reduced and antihistamines really worked for me for the first time. I was absolutely astounded and couldn’t believe my luck.  I felt like I had hayfever like a normal person. I would wake up every day feeling absolutely fine . The few times I did have some dairy my symptoms would get worse so it was a no brainer, I had to leave it out. Not only did my hayfever improve but it also seemed to help calm my rosacea too and I felt generally more healthy. However, I’m not a fussy kind of girl and if I went to a dinner party I would try not to be difficult and would occasionally eat dairy, normally cheese or sometimes ice cream. It would always cause my symptoms to get worse and on a couple of occasions of consuming a larger amount of cows milk, I got quite sick with painful stomach cramps.

Fast forward three years and I have to admit that although I still restrict dairy, it has slowly crept back into my diet. I don't have a huge amount but I have been eating some cheese and perhaps some cream with strawberries every now and again.  I enjoy it and it can be tricky to avoid. So many convenience foods contain dairy. Until now it hasn’t seemed to make a huge difference to my allergy symptoms. This year has seen the worst pollen counts for a long time. I started the season really well and while other people were sneezing, I was absolutely fine. I even had a naive thought that I may have grown out of it. How wrong could I be! All of a sudden it has hit me really hard and I have spent the last two days in bed. I take daily prescription antihistamines, a nasal spray, eye drops and I have also had to take decongestants to help me breathe. I know every little trick in the book; turning the pillow over before going to bed, Vaseline up the nose, washing hair frequently, changing clothes twice per day, wearing glasses even when it's not sunny so that you look like a poser but nothing is easing it. Today I have started a short course of steroids to ease the symptoms because it has got so bad.  

I feel exhausted and pathetic that I have had to take time off work for something as trivial as hayfever but I feel absolutely terrible. We all have to take responsibility for our health and if conventional methods aren’t working then I feel strongly that we should look elsewhere. I have done some reading about the benefits of a raw food diet and going natural makes sense to me even though it is very daunting.  I do have my reservations as I’m more a champagne and sushi kind of girl than mung bean and super juices. I like the finer things in life and like to think I’m a bit of a foodie. I may not be the tie dye ‘save the earth’ vegan type type but if the modern methods aren’t working I’m willing to give it a go.  If you haven't got your health then nothing else really matters! I have ordered a juicer that I will pick up after work tomorrow and I have signed up to a fundamentals of raw food workshop later this month. My place is paid for and the train tickets to Bristol are booked so the social life this month will have to go out of the window.
I also can’t ignore that I haven’t been as active in the last 6 months as I have in the last couple of years and I can’t help but think this may also be affecting my body so I have booked a PT session on Sunday to kick start me again. I don’t think going raw is going to be an easy transition but I am willing to make sacrifices. I apologise now if I’m a bit of a green juice drinking bore for the next couple of months. I am going to document my progress on my blog and my experience will hopefully help some other people. This goes without saying but I am not a medical professional. Everything that I share will be my own experience. We are all different and what may be successful for me may not work for you. I would be interested to hear about your hayfever remedies and also any experience you may have of a raw food diet.

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