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There are several weeks in each year when my productivity drops to zero because of hay fever. I basically can't think about any productive solution for this problem.

I am a programmer. It's not just about my job, I also can't concentrate on anything else in my life and make mistakes that result in loss of e.g. money or change of behaviour. I do try to take a spray for hay fever and the intensity of it is reduced but I still can't concentrate on anything like a normal person can. I feel like my mind is flying in the air and even after 8 hours of sleep, I feel very tired.

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I have myself this problem. Some kind of medication is the way to go. What this is depends on what country you are living etc. –  Johan Karlsson Jul 16 at 9:23

5 Answers 5

I suffer from very bad hay fever, so I sympathise with you.

The solution I have, which is the only way to get through the worst of it:

  • Antihistamines. Ideally the ones with caffeine, as they tend to counteract the slightly drowsy effect of the medicine (although a stiff coffee would be as good) - It may be that your spray is adding to your drowsiness.
  • Take frequent breaks away from the screen, and place a cold, damp cloth over the eyes for 5 minutes
  • Air conditioning helps, but even simply keeping doors and windows shut will reduce the pollen you inhale
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This sounds like a medical issue that you should see a physician about. It isn't something that a personal productivity technique is going to resolve.

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I have hay fever as well and there is a limit as to what medicene can do - Definitely see a doctor first but look at @RoryAlsops's answer as well. (I just do not leave large cities) –  Mark Dec 7 '12 at 15:22

I agree with Dennis that you should talk to a doctor. Most people with hay fever are bothered by it but it doesn't affect concentration.

Typical symptoms are sneezing, red eyes, itchy eyes, runny nose, etc. Some of these symptoms can be suppressed with medicine and some can be ignored. But something that affects your mental sharpness and makes you tired might be more than pollen.

I do have two productivity comments though:

  1. Are some times of the day worse than others? Try tracking these for a week to see if you can identify the worst/best periods. Then program during the better ones.
  2. Try to see what you can do to relieve your symptoms. It might be something as simple as sipping cold water or a sucking candy.
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Hay fever is caused mainly by breathing in pollen particles and by pollen getting into the eyes.

The most useful treatments for hay fever are:

  • Antihistamine tablets and nasal sprays, which if taken regularly help to relieve a runny nose, sneezing, an itchy throat and itchy, watery eyes,
  • Anti-inflammatory nasal sprays and nose drops (usually containing steroids), which reduce inflammation in the delicate lining of the nose. These should be taken daily for the best results,
  • Anti-allergy nasal sprays and eye drops, such as cromoglycate, which act on the linings of the nose and eyes to stop the allergen triggering a reaction
  • Decongestant tablets and sprays can help if the nose is blocked and stuffy, but can lead to rebound blocking,
  • Eye soothers: Eyebright tea may be used in an eyebath, see How to make an eyebath,
  • Drug-free treatments (a light therapy aka light beams, etc.),
  • Acupuncture; Chinese herbs; homeopathy; medical herbalism, massage, aromatherapy and shiatsu offer an excellent supporting treatments where the hayfever is linked to stress.

Most of these medicines are available over the counter, but some are only available on prescription. You may need to try different treatments or find a combination that works best for you.


For personal productivity I would advice you to:

  • avoid places with high levels of air pollution and try not to go there at these times (early morning and at dusk),
  • have frequent showers (splashing your face with cold water and bathing your eyes will help to wash away the irritants),
  • work in air conditioning environment or keep windows and doors closed,
  • buy portable air ioniser (negative ion generator) to clean the air (it's good for health either),
  • always have plenty of wipes/tissues (e.g. with Aloe Vera & Camomile),
  • don't drink pro-oxidant like drinks (such as coffee, energy drinks, etc.) - try instead e.g. Guarana, Mate teas,
  • try some beneficial drinks such as:
    • Yoghurt (cooling and has a mild anti-histamine effect),
    • Pollen, Bee pollen (half a teaspoon a day) is said to help the condition (Check for an allergic reaction to pollen in this form by taking one pellet before you try a larger dose.),
    • Aloe Vera has mild anti-histamine properties. Take the juice internally diluted in water,
    • Beta carotene rich drinks (freshly pressed carrot juice is very beneficial as are other freshly pressed fruits and vegetables),
    • Variety of teas such as Green tea, Andrographis paniculata with Manuka or Black seed honey,
  • think of moving to another region of the country,

If none of above helps, contact your nearest pharmaceutist or a doctor.

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I know how you feel. I was allergic to every pollen available.
After changing my eating habits, every allergic reaction, vanished. No hay feaver, no tiredness.

Water fasting and a few months of vegan. I was not pure vegan, but this mental shift was important. My main meal was mostly raw vegetables. Now I am eating everything again and have no problems. Allergies can be caused by an imbalance of the gut flora.

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