Beating Kafunsho

From late January to April, I, along with some 25 million people in Japan or about 20% of the population, suffer from kafunsho or hay fever. Blame the post-WWII massive reforestation of sugi and the hinoki trees for the back-to-back sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy throat, and itchy eyes. Year after year, I find myself Googling the best ways to survive this season. Desperate for relief, I have tried many things and discovered what works and what doesn't.
1. Wear masks
A popular choice for many as they consider it the least invasive and least expensive. There is an astounding variety of masks available, from the cheap disposable ones to high-end, high-quality ones with advanced filtration system.
Verdict: It still didn't work for me. Even a little exposure to pollen starts up the cycle of allergic response. I don't always remember to put a mask on and I don't want to wear one around the house -- and pollen still manages to get in. Plus, I hate wearing anything covering my face (that's probably why I "forget" to wear the mask). By the way, there is an invasive sort of "mask" that you insert inside your nostril. I've tried it and it's extremely uncomfortable so I don't recommend it at all.
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2. Use air filters
Air filters are supposed to clean the air of pollen, dust, mold and other pollutants and allergens. Some double up as humidifiers and air fresheners. These machines have specific room size capacities.
Verdict: One year, I purchased a plasmacluster air filter (sounds really high tech right?) to see if this would help. Maybe it did clean the air in the room where the air filter was located but I still had to go out and get exposed to pollen. Once the allergic reaction starts, even with clean air at home, I still wheezed and sneezed. The air filter I got also made a pretty loud noise when it detects a lot of allergens in the air, which during pollen season, is a lot, so we ended up turning it off at night. We also live in a spacious two story country house so unless you can buy air filters for all your rooms, this solution has limited benefits.
3. Close off the outside
Under this are all the suggestions not to go outside, hang laundry outside, or open any doors or windows. Change your clothes also as soon as you come home.
Verdict: Impossible. With no clothes dryer in the house, wet laundry kept inside the house tends to smell funky.  When the weather is nice and the kids want to play outside, it is quite impossible to stay indoors.
4. Get medicine from the doctor
A popular recourse of the desperate. Doctors can prescribe all manner of drugs to address all your symptoms and give you enough for long stretches of time. If you run out, you can go back and get more.
Verdict: I went to our local EENT and she gave me three tablets I had to take for two weeks. The drugs did not help (I still had nasal congestion), plus they made me lethargic all day.
5. Alter your diet drastically.
Under this are all suggestions to eliminate all dairy products, sugar, and carbohydrates from your diet. Dairy products apparently worsen the formation of mucus. Consuming sugars and carbohydrates trigger the inflammatory response that weakens the immune system.
Verdict: Impossible. Probably if I was living by myself, I can drastically change my diet but  impossible with a family to feed and a budget to stick to. I also wonder why some people are able to eat whatever they want (i.e. my husband) and not suffer any hay fever while people like me do. It's impossible for me to say no to cake. Life's too sad without sugar!
6. Use a neti pot
This cleans out your nasal passages and helps you breathe better.
Verdict: Helpful to some extent. However, on some days when I'm already congested, even the neti pot cannot push out the gunky stuff and clean up my nasal passages. Sometimes, the neti pot is able to clean out my nose but as soon as I'm done, my nose clogs right up again.
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7. Take natural supplements
Under this are probiotics (beneficial bacteria), quercetin (bioflavanoid that treats and prevents asthma), bromelain (found naturally in pineapples, it helps absorption of quercetin and also reduces inflammation associated with hay fever), and turmeric (reduces inflammation).
Verdict: It works! End of January this year, I had a particularly bad case of hay fever. I was on a train in Tokyo when I noticed posters advertising something about "L-59". It had graphs showing how symptoms of hay fever declined for people who were taking this "L-59". I did some research and it seemed that this "L-59" was some kind of probiotic. I went online and got a bottle of probiotics and as soon as I took them, I had none of the allergic reactions I used to have to pollen. It was almost as if probiotics were the magic pill I was looking for to "cure" my hay fever. I also now take quercetin, bromelain, and turmeric for extra support and am happy to report that I'm mostly kafunsho-free this year! The only downside is that these can be expensive and you have to take them everyday.
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Do you suffer from kafunsho? What do you do to survive?

Sherilyn Siy