Simple steps to get ahead this hay fever season: Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects approximately a quarter of people in the UK, It is caused by an allergic reaction to airborne pollen. The severity of hay fever symptoms can vary depending on the individual and the type of pollen they are allergic to.
May is a time of transition for hay fever sufferers; the tree pollen season is coming to an end, but the grass pollen season is just beginning.
Some people may only experience mild symptoms, such as sneezing and a runny nose. Others may experience more severe symptoms, such as itchy eyes, a blocked nose, and wheezing. While hay fever symptoms are typically mild, they can be disruptive and make it difficult to feel your best.
If you suffer from hay fever, there are several things you can do to manage your symptoms when the pollen count is high. Dr Luke Powles, Associate Clinical Director for Bupa Heath Clinics, shares both natural and medical methods to relieve symptoms this hay fever season.
Medicines to help relieve hay fever symptoms
There are a variety of medicines available over the counter from your local pharmacy that can help alleviate hay fever symptoms. Medicines come in various forms, such as antihistamine tablets, nasal sprays, steroid nasal sprays, salt water nasal washes and eye drops.
Finding hay fever medication that works for you can help to step-up your treatment on days where pollen feels particularly challenging for you. It can sometimes be a process of trial and error to find the medications that work best to alleviate your symptoms. Talk to a pharmacist if you’re unsure of which one to try next.
Natural ways to relieve hay fever
Using these natural methods can help to reduce your exposure to pollen. They can be useful for sufferers as standalone measures, or alongside over-the-counter medications.
1. Shield your eyes and nose
Pollen is the main trigger of hay fever, and it can enter the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth. By covering your face, you can help to prevent pollen from coming into contact with these areas and triggering an allergic reaction.
There are a few different ways to cover your face to help with hay fever. One option is to wear wrap-around sunglasses or a mask. These can help to block pollen from getting into your eyes and nose. Another option is to use balm as a barrier, such as petroleum jelly, around your nostrils. This can help to trap pollen and prevent it from entering your nose.
2. Before leaving the house, check the pollen count
Keeping informed about the pollen count can help you manage your symptoms and enjoy the outdoors more. Pollen counts are typically highest in the morning and evening, so it’s best to check the forecast before you go outside.
If the count is high, you can take steps to reduce your exposure – like covering your eyes, nose and mouth – or plan the time of day you go outside. By staying informed and taking steps to protect yourself, you can reduce the impact of pollen on your day-to-day life.
3. While indoors keep windows and doors shut
Airborne pollen, which is responsible for most hay fever symptoms can enter your home through open windows and doors, so it’s important to keep them closed, especially during spring and summer months when the pollen count is high.
If you must keep your windows open, close your curtains or blinds to help keep pollen out.
4. Shower and wash your clothes regularly
Pollen can cling to your hair and clothing, so it’s important to take steps to remove it when you come indoors. Taking a shower or washing your clothes once you come inside will help to wash away any pollen that may be on your body. Once washed, avoid drying your clothes outside as drying them outdoors can cover them in pollen again, instead use an indoor drying rack this will help to keep pollen out of your home.
5. Cut down on alcohol
Alcohol can worsen hay fever symptoms. Beer, wine, and spirits all contain histamine, a chemical that triggers allergic reactions. Histamine can make you more sensitive to pollen, and alcohol can also dehydrate you, which can make your symptoms even worse. If you suffer with hay fever, it’s best to limit your alcohol intake. If you do choose to drink, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You may also want to take an over-the-counter antihistamine to help relieve your symptoms.
6. Keep pets off your bed
If you have a cat or a dog that goes outside, try to keep them off your bed in spring and summer. Pet hair can act as a carrier of pollen, which could trigger your allergies!
If you’re struggling to keep your hay fever symptoms at bay after using these measures, make sure you see a pharmacist, GP or other health professional for further advice.
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