Besides the current coronavirus crisis, there’s another issue looming on the horizon. Hayfever season!

Anyone can just develop hayfever overnight and it can come and go every year. I never used to be affected until just before I moved to the Netherlands and lived in the UK, it was only mild. Then during my first year here, I got nothing at all. Fast forward to this year and I honestly want to die (it’s extremely severe).

Hayfever in the Netherlands

Bad news for many of us: The hayfever season started early if you’re allergic to birch pollen. Because we had a warm winter, many birch trees are already blooming (cry). Check out the pollen count here.

So while I’m cooped up inside, hot and tired and not at work, I’ll tell you all you need to know to survive hayfever in the Netherlands and this dreadful season!

What is hayfever?

If you’ve got it, you definitely know what it is. But do you really know what’s actually causing it?

Hayfever, it’s official name, Allergic rhinitis, is a condition where the body’s immune system is sensitive and overreacts to an allergen when it doesn’t really need to. The name hayfever is a bit misleading though, as most people are not actually getting allergic reactions because of the hay (we just seem to be allergic to freaking oxygen). There are two types of allergy you can have: seasonal and perennial.

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The good news is that most of you guys are probably seasonal. It means that allergies happen on a seasonal basis – so throughout spring and summer from pollen. If you find yourself feeling crappy for much longer, then you probably have a perennial allergy. Which means that you poor sods have to put up with this all year. It’s usually by dust mites, mould or pet hair. I’m allergic to pet hair 24/7, so feel for me.

When’s hayfever season in the Netherlands?

You may have found that moving to the Netherlands has uncovered an allergy you never knew you had. Welcome to the club! That’s probably because the Netherlands being a flat greenland, has an array of trees and flowers and over 150 types of grass.

Anyway, hayfever season is not just one season, you sneeze to death and then it’s gone – there are actually a few different pollen seasons. Tree pollen usually starts right at the start of March, through till the end of May. Then there is a crossover between the two, with grass season – which is why most of us are dying right now because the pollen count is so ridiculously high. Grass season stays into July and then mould spores happen as we come into Autumn. So for some of us, hayfever season lasts the whole 3 months. There’s no way to know how bad it will be every month until it happens.

hayfever in the netherlands
Accurate representation of me right now with hayfever in the Netherlands. Image: pxhere

What are the symptoms of hayfever?

Hayfever has many different symptoms and you may not get them all. Sadly, I get every single symptom.

  • Itchy, red and puffy eyes
  • A runny or blocked nose
  • Continuous sneezing
  • Itchy skin
  • Lack of concentration
  • Fatigue – lack of sleep
  • Drowsiness
  • Itchy and painful ears
  • Swollen and painful throat
  • Coughing
  • Traces of blood in ears, throat and nose from continuous symptoms

What is the treatment of hayfever?

The question we all try to find the answers for and it’s hard to answer for everyone as we are all different. So put that tissue down and listen up, as one of these may work for you!

Antihistamines, antihistamines, antihistamines! Without these, life would be even more unbearable. You can buy different types of antihistamines, some without a prescription. Chances are if you’ve got it pretty severe, then a trip to the doctors is in order because you’re going to need something stronger. If it’s reasonably mild, then a normal one-a-day antihistamine will work its magic. If you’re like me, who takes one and literally nothing happens, then you’re going to need a tablet that you can take more regularly.

The dark side of meds

The stronger the meds, the more side effects. Most are so bad that you aren’t allowed to drive or operate machinery (please read the leaflet if you need to do any of these and change meds!). Of course, it’s going to rid you of your hayfever, but on a daily basis I have to choose between either 1) having my whole face and eyes swollen and sneezing every 2 minutes or 2) having barely any hayfever symptoms, but feeling completely sedated. Both make it hard to get on with daily life and performing well at work (I’m even struggling with this article right now)! So what else can help you?

  • Get a good sleep (if you can) – try going to bed earlier, because hayfever plays hell with your sleep.
  • Shut all the windows (literally at all times) – I know it’s hard right now with the heat. Invest in a fan and keep those windows shut so the pollen doesn’t come in!
  • Refrain from going outside unless absolutely necessary during high-pollen days. I know this is the worst, and almost impossible if you have a job. But if you can work from home, do ask your boss, because you’re going to be no use to them in the office being all sedated and that.
  • Get some nasal sprays and eye drops – these will really help, but just don’t use them too often or the opposite effect will happen!
  • Get some soft tissue. The cheapest just won’t cut it, unless you want your nose to peel off. That’s 3 months of nose-wiping there.
  • Put vaseline under your nose. It traps the pollen. It really does work!
  • Invest in an air purifier for hayfever. I’ve never tried one as of yet, but apparently, it cleans the air of pollen particles. So cool.

How can I stay prepared for hooikoorts aka hayfever in the Netherlands?

Do all of the above, don’t forget to take your tablets before the symptoms occur, that way you’ve beaten them to it. Then, of course, check the pollen count for the day. There are many sites online for this, including some apps. Search hooikoorts and download it on your app store if you want it on the go. You just need to be one step ahead of your allergy at all times, or it will hit you like a ton of bricks.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I hope us at DutchReview have given you a few helpful tips on how to survive this season. So far we’re getting the worst of it, so it’s all up from here. You can survive it!

Do you have any tips on how to cope with hayfever in the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments. 

Feature Image: pxhere

3 COMMENTS

  1. What I found the best is to consume local honey.

    Two weeks ago I had such a bad case of hayfever that I looked online and the local honey advise appeared.

    I tried it and voilá, next day almost no sneezing the whole day!!
    Being doing it since, every day. Almost mo sympthoms.

    Try organic honey and if is produced nearby better. There is a honey producer in Amsterdam Noord, at the end of Meteorenweg street.
    They open on fridays.

  2. Yup, I can second Abraham’s suggestion: HONEY it is!

    A spoon a day does it’s magic for me. It does not completely heal me (hey, we’re not in Wonderland here), but it smoothens the symptoms very much, my nose isn’t running 24/7 and I only sneeze a couple times a day.
    The important thing is to get local (aka expensive in most cases) honey. That way you make sure the bees collected pollen from around the place and that kinda interacts with your body. Honey from the supermarkets is great and tastes good but it won’t help with your hayfever. Cash out the extra money, go to a local farmer or farmers market and ask for local organic honey.
    Another thing: as already mentioned in the article, get good quality tissues. Being German I picked the orginal Tempo brand tissues and they do my nose pretty good, no peeling, no Rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer-like nose anymore. And, on top of helping keep your nose unharmed, they survive washing in case you forgot one in your pockets (I have two kids, this happens weekly). Normally a tissue makes your washing a nightmare with lil’ white paper balls all over and clinging to all your washed items. With Tempo this is a thing of the past, those tissues just stay in the pocket they wer left in for good and you can remove them after the clothes are dry. No more nervous breakdowns after opening the washing machine…

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