Hay Fever and Your Pelvic Floor
The sun is shining through the Kegel8 office windows and it’s clear that spring has most definitely sprung!
We love the lighter nights and light mornings, but along with the sun comes allergies, and more specifically, thanks to the rise in pollen counts as the plants start to bloom, hay fever, which affects more than 10 million of us in England alone. That’s almost one in five of us who suffer yearly coughs, watery eyes and the almost-constant sneezing that comes with the rise in pollen counts. For most of us, hay fever is an inconvenience that can be controlled with simple over-the-counter remedies, but for those of us suffering from pelvic floor weakness, it’s a whole different story…
Hay Fever and Your Pelvic Floor
Hay fever is extremely common, affecting 20% of us in England every year. Hay fever is your body’s natural reaction to pollen, because it sees the pollen as a threat, like a virus, so puts up barriers to ‘stop the spread of infection’ (even though there is no real threat at all!) This leads to the sneezing, itchiness, sore eyes, headaches and even swelling in the face, all of which can leave you feeling exhausted.
One of the most common symptoms of hay fever is constant sneezing, and depending on which kind of pollen that you are allergic to, hay fever symptoms may affect you at different times of the year:
- Tree Pollen: mid-March to early June
- Grass Pollen: May to August with a peak in mid-June
- Weed Pollen: May to September
More than 90% of people with hay fever are allergic to grass pollen, so you may find you start to suffer within the next few weeks as the grass pollen levels rise.
If you suffer from pelvic floor weakness, or even if you haven’t noticed any symptoms before, you might find that the constant sneezes cause you to suffer from embarrassing leaks – this is known as stress incontinence, and happens when the ‘fast twitch’ muscle fibres of your pelvic floor don’t react quick enough to the extra pressure that sneezing places on the muscles. If you do find that the excess sneezes lead to pesky leaks, you can try a technique called the Kegel Brace to help support your muscles and prevent the leaks from happening:
“Don’t forget to squeeze before you sneeze!”
When you feel that first tickle in your nose that warns you that a sneeze is on the way, you should lift and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as tightly as you can – this clenching will help you to prevent leaks when you sneeze. If you practice doing this every time you cough or sneeze, it will quickly become second nature, which will be useful not only in hay fever season, but also in winter when colds and flu come around!
Also, before hay fever season really kicks in, make sure you are being diligent with your pelvic floor exercises – stress incontinence affects more than 1 in 3 women, and if you suffer hay fever on top of this, it could really make you feel miserable, but there is lots that can be done to help! Try performing manual Kegel exercises, or to get great results fast, try one of our electronic pelvic toners like the Kegel8 Ultra 20, which feature programmes especially for stress incontinence which will help you to treat those leaks before hay fever season hits its peak.
 NHS, (2014). Hay fever - NHS Choices. [online] Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hay-fever/Pages/Introduction.aspx [Accessed 23 Apr. 2014].
 Bupa UK, (2014). Hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) | Bupa UK. [online] Available at: http://www.bupa.co.uk/individuals/health-information/directory/h/allergic-rhinitis [Accessed 23 Apr. 2014].
 Kegel8, (2014). Stress Incontinence. [online] Available at: /articles/incontinence/stress-incontinence.html [Accessed 23 Apr. 2014].