As we prepare to move seasons, people begin to look forward to the longer and warmer days ahead.  However, for around 13 million people in the UK that suffer with hay fever, it can mean the start of itchy, watery eyes, and excessive sneezing.

Here, Simon Bandy, General Manager of Veganicity, highlights the months in which each pollen is most prevalent to enable people to be as prepared as possible, and help limit exposure to the pollen that triggers the allergy.

March to mid-May – Tree pollen kick-starts hay fever season in March and generally runs through to late May.  It is thought that this is the most common form to react to as there are around one hundred species of tree that can trigger allergic rhinitis.  One of the most highly allergenic trees is the sycamore, which can cause further reaction if celery and hazelnuts in the diet.

May to July ­– These three months are when we see a rise in response to grass pollen, possibly because the weather is better and people spend more time outside.  This allergen can potentially be the hardest to avoid, so invest in a good pair of sunglasses to limit pollen contact with the eyes.  Also, ensure washing is dried indoors so the fibres don’t carry anything that might trigger or elevate hay fever symptoms.

June to September – The two triggers to be aware of over these months are mould spores and weed pollen.  Mould is rife now due to warmer temperatures and an allergy to this, particularly if a person is also asthmatic, can bring breathing difficulties.  Using an air conditioner with a HEPA filter in the home can be beneficial for some.  The likes of nettle, dock and rape seed can be responsible for outbreaks over this period too, so watch the pollen count and try to spend time outside after rainfall as it reduces pollen levels.

Treating hay fever can be tricky for vegans, as not all over the counter medicines are suitable.  However, there are foods that can be eaten to help protect sufferers from the pollen of plants.  The top food to eat is the humble onion as it is a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.  Onions also contain prebiotics which help feed the good bacteria in the gut – supporting the immune system.  Other foods to embrace include apples, broccoli, garlic, and tomatoes – all of which are in abundance over the peak of the hay fever calendar.

Herbs and spices can be helpful too.  Turmeric is a popular choice due to its anti-inflammatory qualities, and the theory that it prevents the release of histamine which can cause hay fever.  Try Veganicity Turmeric Extra (30 caps / £11.95) which also includes ginger root to help prevent sinus congestion.

Simon says: “Hay fever usually begins in childhood and is more common among males.  The good news is that many people find that as they age, their symptoms improve, and in some cases diminish.  With one in five people in the UK suffering over the summer months it’s important to start preparing now by boosting the body as much as possible to try to keep hay fever at bay.  Identifying what pollen is a person’s trigger is key to keeping symptoms down to a minimum so they can make the most of the summer.”

Products are available from www.veganicity.com, www.amazon.co.uk and all good independent health shops nationwide.