Picturesque cottage in summertime

British Summertime is here! For many of us, that's great news but for a large section of society, this means the dreaded Hay Fever Season is also upon us, a constant string of popping pills, streaming eyes and runny noses and for some much worse.

Some of the worse hit areas are not country areas but cities like London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds due to what is commonly called 'pollenution'! So perhaps we need to rethink how we combat hay fever long term.

Woman sneezing in field during hay fever season

We have put together some top tips for hay fever sufferers that just might make a difference this year. 

So what exactly is Hay Fever?

According to Allergy UK - Hay fever is a common allergic reaction which occurs at particular times of the year. It is known as seasonal rhinitis, sharing symptoms with perennial (year-round) allergic rhinitis, but occurring as a reaction to pollen from grass, trees and weeds during the early spring and summer months. It can affect both adults and children. While often regarded as a trivial issue, the effects can be extremely disruptive to everyday life. Allergy UK put together a recent study showing the extent of debilitation caused by hay fever in the UK;

When it came to actual symptoms,

  • 84%, reported sneezing,
  • 78% runny nose,
  • 80% itchy/watery/ red/swollen/sore eyes,
  • 78% reported nasal congestion.

Worryingly, 55% (a total of 332 people) also reported wheezing/ shortness of breath/ tight chest as symptoms for either themselves or their child. Other symptoms reported were;

  • cough,
  • catarrh,
  • itch deep inside ears/ roof of mouth,
  • itchy skin, tiredness,
  • post-nasal drip,
  • headaches,
  • nose bleeds,
  • facial pain,
  • hives/ wheals on skin
  • poor sleep

The list is endless and seemingly continues to grow year on year.

Who Gets Hay Fever?

Hay fever affects nearly 10million people in England alone, approx. 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children with numbers rising year on year

What can you do to lessen the impact?

In order to live our lives as best we can it is important that we just don’t stay indoors during hay fever season. The same quality of life as other parts of the year can be enjoyed by hay fever sufferers if they take some precautions.

  1. Shower every night before bedtime which helps remove the unwanted pollen from your hair and skin.
  2. Sunglasses preferably wraparound ones can protect your eyes from pollen.
  3. Try to keep windows at home and in your car closed where possible. Being mindful that tree pollen peaks in the early afternoon and grass pollen peaks in the morning generally before 11 am and then again after 4.30pm. Keep an eye on the Met Office Reports
  4. Limit alcohol and cigarettes as these can worsen the symptoms.
  5. Try to remember to shake your jacket before bring it into the house as this will dislodge some of the pollen.
  6. If Met Office pollen reports are high, try to dry your washing indoors as pollen will stick to the bed sheets and towels making life very uncomfortable for you indoors.
  7. Be prepared, make sure you have the right antihistamines for you and try out some of the nasal sprays and nasal gels as these can give immediate relief. Talk to your GP about what is best for you.
  8. Install pollen filters in your car if they are not already fitted particularly for those long journeys.
  9. Get the Met Office Weather App on your phone as predictions can change.
  10. Vacuum regularly, preferably with a high-efficiency particle arresting (HEPA) filter in place and dust with a damp cloth.

Hay Fever Treatments

Whilst all the above tips are designed to lessen the risk of hay fever it is for many a necessary evil of the British summer time. Everyone with pollen allergies will be impacted by raised levels of pollen and as our immune systems react the side effects can be debilitating for many.

Luckily there is medical as well as practical help available.

Antihistamines

This allergy medication blocks the body’s natural secretion of histamine which is produced to combat the offending pollen. Antihistamines are usually very effective at combatting the sneezing and runny nose. Always discuss with your GP before taking any new medication and clarify what is best for you, is it tablets, nasal spray or eye drops?  

Most newer generation Antihistamines shouldn’t cause drowsiness but be aware this can be a side effect.

Corticosteroid Nasal Sprays and Eye Drops

Corticosteroid can be a useful alternative to antihistamines particularly if you do not respond well to them. GPs tend to opt for this medication if one of your main symptoms is a blocked nose due to the anti-inflammatory aspects of the drug.

GPs also prescribe corticosteroid for pregnant and breast-feeding mums.  

Immunotherapy

In extreme cases doctors can recommend Immunotherapy. This can help allergy symptoms by acclimatising the immune system by introducing it to small amounts of the allergen. The process is more long term and can take up to three years to work for successful candidates.   

Let us know what your hay fever experiences are in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you. 

All of the above require preparation and information so make sure you access the Allergy UK website and The Met Office for up to date reports.

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