I can’t think straight. I can’t breathe. I feel like someone has poured glue inside my head. And the thing is, it’s not “someone” who did it, it’s me. My own dumbass system, over-reacting to pollen – producing histamine because it thinks it’s under attack. “You’re not under attack, dumbass,” I tell my insides every day, but they can’t hear me, because they’re covered in glue. (As you can see, I’m cross.)
I’ve been getting hayfver since I was twenty-five – before that I thought it was something people on TV got. I also thought it meant slightly itchy eyes and the odd sneeze. But here I am, four days into the most debilitating bout of hayfever I’ve ever had, and it’s definitely not just the odd sneeze. My whole head has been stuffed up since Friday, and I haven’t been able to breathe through my nose, apart from sporadic moments of temporary relief (see below). I’ve spent the GDP of a medium-sized county in pharmacies: I go in every day to beg for help, and come out armed with bags of products and a new sense of hope: surely, this time it will work.
Here are a few things I’ve tried in the last four days:
- Hay Max – to prevent the pollen getting in (who knows if it’s doing anything but it can’t hurt)
- Eye drops – good for itchy eyes, and can be used year-round as needed, but my nose is so bad, I don’t care about my itchy eyes any more
- Coffee – because it momentarily cuts through the stuffiness
- Nasal spray barrier – to prevent pollen going in
- Sterimar nasal spray – to reduce stuffiness. People swear by this but it didn’t work for me
- Vicks – the gel stuff, I put it under my nose, and sometimes it works
- Olbas Oil – I love this, I put drops on tissues, and go to sleep at night, holding it to my nose. The bits of fragmented sleep I get are all thanks to Olbas Oil
- Claritin Non-Drowsy tablets – hmmm, the jury’s out on effectiveness
- Spicy curry – it genuinely gives me temporary relief
- Flexinase nasal spray with anti-histamine – this is what I got during today’s trip the pharmacy, when I threw myself at their mercy and asked for the strongest thing you can get without prescription
- Gin and tonic – because I read an article that said it doesn’t make hayfever any worse and if I’m going to grasp at straws, they may as well be Tanqueray-and-Fever-Tree flavoured straws
One annoying feature of hayfever is that it sounds, well, a bit lame. Like the guy on TV who’s always complaining about his “allergies”, burying his nose in a handkerchief. The reality – headaches, fatigue, sore throat, streaming eyes, and a sometimes scary inability to breathe comfortably – feels like a heavy head-cold. Except it lasts for weeks.
And you can’t help feeling like a moan if you moan about it, but when it’s literally affecting your ability to have a conversation or think straight, it’s hard to avoid bringing it up – apologising as you clutch a tissue to your nose and mentally run through how many you have left in the pack (there’s no fear quite like that of the hayfever sufferer who’s run out of tissues and is relying on her diminishing stash of kitchen roll).
So the point of this post? Mostly, I needed to moan to someone other than my long-suffering husband. Also, fellow sufferers may find some tips within the list above. And lastly, if you’ve never had hayfever but know someone who does, know that while they may sound like they’re complaining over nothing, they are actually in bits – because someone’s poured glue in their heads.