15 Ways to Survive Hay Fever Season in Japan
Spring is here and if you have allergies, it might have already hit you hard. How do you get through allergy season in Japan? You’ll find some ideas below.
A few words to know:
花粉症 (kafunshou) – hay fever
花粉 (kafun) – pollen
アレルギー (arerugii) – allergy
Now, a few ideas to help you survive hay fever season in Japan:
1. Wear a mask outside. Even if you didn’t wear one in your home country, “do as the locals do” or “when in Rome…” or something like that. I lately opt to wear one, but I’m not sure of how effective they truly are. Though it does cover up how awful you look from the symptoms at the very least! There are many types so shop around and find the one for you.
2. Use a mask spray. Apparently if you spray your mask with this stuff it makes the mask more effective at keeping unwanted particles out.
3. Try a “nose mask”. It’s basically something that you attach to the underside of your nose and each side goes in a nostril. It acts as a filter for pollen and other airborne particles.
4. Refill those allergy medicine prescriptions. It is possible to get Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec and Flonase (フルナーズ) in Japan (Consult a doctor about possibilities). Some possible prescription non-drowsy or “mostly” non-drowsy meds in Japan include: Allegra (アレグラ), Claritin (クラリチン), Alesion (アレジオン), エバステル, Talion (タリオン), and Zyrtec (ジルテック). You can get some over-the-counter anti-allergy medication, but most, if not all, are drowsy and probably not as effective as those you can get by prescription.
5. Buy an air purifier for your home. Look for 空気清浄機 (くうきせいじょうき, kuukiseijouki). 空 気 (くうき) means “air,” 清浄 (せいじょう) means “clean” or “pure,” and 機 (き), in this case, combined with the other two words/meanings, means machine. If you want one with a humidifier, look for 加湿機 also. You can find a bunch on Amazon Japan, but I also recommend checking your local electronics store for deals.
6. Hang dry your laundry indoors. Yes, it takes longer than hanging it out in the sun and wind, but if you want to avoid getting pollen all over your clothes. Or…
7. Put a cover over your laundry and/or futon if you hang them outdoors. The following is an example of a futon cover. 干し means drying, and 袋 means bag.
8. Take probiotics. Apparently these little guys might help alleviate some allergy symptoms. Whether it will help or not, probiotics are still great to take for a variety of other health reasons. Yogurt, miso, natto, kimchi and other fermented foods are great sources of “good bacteria,” or probiotics.
9. Try quercetin. This product, which is found naturally in apples, grapes and some other foods, helps balance histamine levels. You can find quercetin easily at iHerb.
10. Drink tea. Specifically, try one of these types: nettle tea (ネトル茶), beni fuuki (べにふうき, pictured below), tencha, or Chinese tea (甜茶), and gauva tea (グアバ茶).
Beni fuuki is a concentrated type of green tea, which means there are a higher number of catechins than regular green tea. According to this study, drinking beni fuuki one and a half months before the cedar pollen season resulted in fewer or less extreme allergy symptoms.
11. Try a “clothes block” spray. Supposedly helps prevent pollen from getting all over your clothes.
12. Try eye drops or anti-allergy eye drops. My eyes are the worst during hay fever season. I rely on eye drops to help me with the itching and irritation. There are also anti-allergy eye drops, which I haven’t tried myself. However, the price seems like a big drawback.
13. Use a neti pot. Though uncomfortable at first, it really works to clean out your nasal passages, lessen your allergy symptoms and helps prevent you from getting sick.
14. Wear glasses/sunglasses when outside. There are special hay fever glasses to help protect your eyes from pollen. I’ve seen more and more people wearing them this year. I’m sure you could wear regular sunglasses to help against exposure as well.
15. Know when the pollen is really bad. If you know when the pollen count outside is high, you can hopefully plan ahead (for example, not hanging out your laundry, not exercising outside that day, or planning to exercise in the evening, etc.) And for my own information, I use WeatherNew Japan for my pollen news. There are also a few apps for your iPhone or smartphone that might work for you too.