Not everyone is celebrating the onset of warmer weather. While most of us are revelling in the longer days and readying ourselves for T-shirt tans, an estimated 25% of people in the UK have something to fear from the spring and summer months – hay fever.
What is hay fever?
Hay fever is the name given to the body’s allergic reaction to pollen. Although pollen is relatively harmless to humans, the body’s sensors assume that airborne pollen particles are a threat. The reaction of the immune system is to activate defence mechanisms to combat these particles – characterised by a runny nose, watering and itchy eyes, sneezing and even skin rashes.
Hay fever is not a life-threatening disease, of course, but if you are one of the million Brits who suffer from hay fever every year, you will know that the symptoms are far from harmless. Hay fever can cause immense discomfort and many sufferers complain that it can even significantly impact on their sleep. In particular, those with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma can suffer from exacerbated wheezing and shortness of breath.
How should you handle hay fever?
The first important step to take for sufferers is to reduce exposure wherever possible. This may involve keeping windows closed at home or the office. Pollen counts are highest in the early morning and again late in the evening, so this should be taken into consideration when heading outdoors.
Of course, it isn’t always possible to stay indoors all day long. Here are our tips for easing hay fever during a busy day at work or school.
Create an eye barrier
Wearing glasses or sunglasses can help to prevent pollen from blowing into the eyes.
Stay extra fresh
Regularly washing, showering and changing clothes can reduce to amount of pollen that clings to your body, clothes and hair.
Keep pets at bay
Dogs may be man’s best friend but they, along with other household pets can carry pollen into the house. Restricting them to certain rooms can help you safeguard against bouts of sneezing and eye irritation.
Say no to house plants
They may brighten up the place but pollinating house plants are a no-go if you suffer from hay fever.
Try air purifiers
Get help hovering up the worst of the pollen count with air purifiers designed to help hay fever sufferers.
Alongside preventative measures, hay fever sufferers may also be required to become best friends with antihistamines. Antihistamines block the chemical ‘histamine’ which is typically released when the body feels it is under attack, and can be delivered via tablets or nasal spray. While serious cases of hay fever may require a consultation with a GP, most cases can be treated through a trip to the pharmacy where antihistamines are available over the counter.