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Hay fever, the season is beginning – How to avoid the allergies

It’s that time of year when we are beginning to get outdoors more and enjoy the longer days and the warmth of Spring. Unfortunately, this brings extra challenges for hayfever sufferers. For most people symptoms are mild though for some there are severe and need effective treatment to be able to carry on with normal lives.

One quarter of hayfever sufferers are allergic to tree pollen which can begin in February and last until June. Later in the season is grass pollen which affects the largest group. With global warming the pollen season is changing and hayfever can begin earlier in the year and last longer.

What is hay fever?

Hayfever is an allergic reaction to the pollen released by trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses. The body produces a substance called histamine which causes the symptoms.

Hay fever – What are the symptoms?

  • Runny and blocked nose
  • Itchy sore eyes
  • Itchy throat
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty sleeping due to symptoms

According to Professor Adam Fox, an allergy specialist, there are real effects on people’s daily lives depending on how severe the allergy is. Exam season is coming up and young people with hayfever are shown to have lower results than their Christmas mocks. Evidence shows it can affect our driving in the same way as alcohol and drugs. It’s worth knowing that despite its name it does not cause a fever and if you have a fever you could have another health issue such as an infection or flu.

The days when pollen is highest are nice days with a gentle breeze. It’s less when there is rain to damp the pollen down. There tends to be less pollen in the city and near the coast and more in rural areas.

So what’s the best way to treat it?

Professor Adam Fox says that getting ahead and preparing is the best approach to treatment. He recommends starting with a nasal spray which stops the nose from reacting with a very small amount of steroids. He also recommends using a modern antihistamine such as Loratidine or Cetirizine as these do not cause drowsiness in the way that older medicines do.

Some people are more vulnerable and especially those with asthma who need to take extra care. Admissions to A&E do go up for asthma sufferers over the hayfever season. If you are in this group and have more severe symptoms it’s worth going to see your GP who does have other treatment options such as desensitization.

Other things that can be helpful are

  • Taking a shower and washing hair before bed
  • Keeping the windows closed at night.
  • Wearing wraparound sunglasses
  • Hoovering and wiping down surfaces
  • Use vaseline around the nostrils to catch pollen particles

So as a reminder the symptoms of hayfever are treatable and for most people it is uncomfortable but not serious. If you have severe symptoms and asthma it is worth getting extra help from the GP.

WE hope this helps with any pollen allergies you have and you can make the most of the Spring season.

Other resources:

Hay fever is usually worse between late March and September, especially when it’s warm, humid and windy. This is when the pollen count is at its highest. Additional information from the NHS on Hay fever and treatment

First Aid Allergies: 1 Day First Aid Course