If hay fever has affected your enjoyment of our recent heatwave, you’re not alone. Hay fever affects around one in five of us and you can develop it at any age.
Most of us living in Wales would say it’s one of the most beautiful places to enjoy summer, but it’s also one of the worst places if you suffer from hay fever – especially if you’re sensitive to grass pollen.
Of the 30 different types of pollen that are known to cause hay fever, those in the grass pollen category are the worst offenders. And we’ve just hit peak grass pollen season…
Before you make plans to up sticks and move, we have some tips to help you manage your hay fever symptoms, so you can make the most of the hay this summer.
Why do we get hay fever?
Hay fever is an allergic reaction caused when your body’s immune system overreacts to a perceived threat and releases chemicals (histamine) to stop what it believes is an infection. These chemicals are what cause the irritating symptoms so many of us suffer from:
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- A runny or blocked nose
- Sneezing and coughing
- An itchy mouth, throat, nose or ears
- Head or ear ache
- Loss of smell
Asthma suffers are especially prone to hay fever and may experience the following additional symptoms:
- A tight feeling in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing and coughing
Couldn’t it just be a cold?
It’s possible, but a cold will typically last just 1-2 weeks. If your symptoms persist for weeks or months, it’s more likely to be hay fever.
What can I do to get rid of hay fever?
You can’t cure yourself of hay fever, but there are some easy, practical ways you can minimise yours or your family’s symptoms so you can enjoy summer.
- Put petroleum jelly or beeswax around your nostrils before going outside – this will help trap pollen spores and stop them irritating you
- Wear sunglasses (the NHS recommends wraparound ones) to stop pollen getting into your eyes
- Try to minimise the time you spend outside during times of the day when pollen is highest (6-9am and 6-9pm)
- Keep your windows and doors shut as much as you can to stop pollen getting into the house. You could also invest in an air purifier with HEPA filter to trap any pollen that gets in.
- Vacuum and damp-dust your home regularly to prevent pollen spores circulating. If you can use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter so much the better.
- If you’re really suffering, showing and washing your hair when you come inside will also help remove offending allergens. This goes for pets too – they can carry a lot of pollen on their fur.
Some things to avoid include:
- Cutting grass or walking on it too much – a great excuse for someone else to get the lawnmower out!
- Keeping flowers in your house – these will only worsen your symptoms
- Drying clothes or bedding outside on the line – that freshly aired smell isn’t the only thing they’ll pick up
- Smoke – these can exacerbate your symptoms
- Alcohol – this contains histamine which can trigger an allergy response. Its dehydrating effects can also make your symptoms worse.
What if this doesn’t work?
Pop in and have a chat to your local Evans’ team. We can give you advice on over the counter treatments like eye drops and nasal sprays, as well as antihistamine tablets to help you prevent and manage your symptoms.
We can point you in the direction of a variety of safe treatments including:
- Antihistamine tablets which can stop the release of the chemicals we mentioned above – there are lots of options, including Loratadine and Piriton.
- Corticosteroid nasal sprays like Beconase and Flixonase which can treat symptoms within a couple of weeks and stop your nose becoming inflamed or blocked – they’re also a great preventative treatment.
- Eye drops such as Opticrom which can be especially helpful for treating the itchiness and inflammation caused by grass pollen.
It can take a few days of regular use before you see the real benefit from these remedies, and as with any medication, they will work best when you follow your pharmacist’s instructions.
How can I find out more?
To have a chat about any of the tips or remedies above, please get in touch with your local Evans Pharmacy or pop in-store and see us. We’re here to help you enjoy a happy, healthy summer.