Hay fever is a common allergic reaction to pollen released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle. Due to plants’ different reproductive cycles happening at different points during the year, hay fever symptoms can occur at any time during spring, summer and autumn. Hay fever is so common that it affects one in five people at some point during their life. Symptoms include sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose – all of which are a result of an allergy to pollen.
During spring, trees release their pollen and the first signs of hay fever can occur in sufferers as early as February. Following this, allergies to grass pollen begin around March or April, and weed pollen is released any time between March and August.
If you are prone to suffering from hay fever or happen to experience symptoms for the first time this year, try some of the tips below to help ease suffering:
- Take antihistamine tablets; they are available at supermarkets and pharmacies. You could also ask the pharmacist if they have any other medication to help with your specific symptoms.
- Avoid alcohol. Many people do not know this, but alcohol contains histamine which is the chemical that sets off allergy symptoms in the body.
- If the pollen count is high, try to stay indoors. Don’t keep fresh flowers inside your house and if possible, don’t dry your clothes outside. Pollen can attach itself to damp clothes and make your symptoms much worse if you wear clothes covered in something you’re allergic to!
- Avoid areas that are particularly grassy, and don’t cut the grass in your garden – the pollen released from grass is highly likely to affect hay fever sufferers.
- Keep all windows closed. If it is hot in your house with the windows closed, try closing the curtains to reduce the temperature. Keep the windows in your car closed too – you can also buy a pollen filter for your air vents.
- If you have been outdoors and your symptoms are particularly bad, when you get home make sure you have a shower and change your clothes. Removing as much pollen from your body as possible is vital in order to reduce symptoms.
- If your main symptom is a blocked nose and your hay fever isn’t responding to antihistamines, ask your doctor about corticosteroid nasal sprays. They can reduce the inflammation inside your nose and help you to breathe easier.
- If your eyes are particularly itchy, swollen or watery, try using eye drops specifically for those with hay fever. Eye drops which include the ingredient sodium cromoglicate have been shown to be the safest and most successful in treating symptoms of hay fever.
If you continue to suffer from hay fever symptoms and nothing helps to ease your suffering, speak to your GP. There may be some stronger medications that can be prescribed, or factors to bear in mind that are specific to your particular symptoms. It’s never too early to start preparing for hay fever, so look out for warning signs over the next couple of months.