(This article also featured on We Are Surge)
Summer is that oh-so welcomed season that everyone looks forward to all year but battling hay fever throughout the summer months isn’t what everyone wants on their agenda. I have been working part time at a pharmacy for three years now as a Healthcare Advisor and it’s around this time of year when I really notice the shear amount of people coming in and desperately seeking help/treatment for their hay fever. So although different to what I would normally write/blog about I figured an article all on hay fever wouldn’t be such a bad idea..
But First, What Is Hay Fever?
Hay Fever simply is an allergy to pollen. The symptoms that many of us suffer with are due to our immune system reacting to these pollens. To get even a little more into it, the cells on the lining of the nose and eyes release histamine as soon as they come into contact with pollen which causes inflammation and irritation in the nose and eyes. However, it’s worth pointing out there isn’t any actual “cure” for hay fever just a variety of treatments to relieve the symptoms of it.
The main hay-fever season is from May to September with June/July being the peak. There are three main different pollens during this season, which are:
- Tree pollens (March to May)
- Grass pollens (May to July)
- Fungal Spores (September to October)
The Dreaded Symptoms
- Itchy eyes, nose and throat
- Watery red eyes
- Runny, blocked sore nose
- Irritating Cough
- Loss of smell and taste
- Wheezy Chest
What Can I Take To Stop It?
As mentioned previously, there is no cure but a whole load of tablets, syrups, eye drops and nasal sprays available to reduce those annoying symptoms.
Your best bet is taking a “One A Day” antihistamine, with the two common active ingredients/drugs being Loratadine and Cetirizine. I do always like to point out that shops tend to always have their own branded version of these, which are a lot cheaper compared to other brands out there such as Clarityn, Benadryl and Piriteze. So make sure you check the active ingredients before purchasing as it could save you a bit of money! You can always take a more traditional antihistamine containing Chlorphenamine, which is commonly known as Piriton, but be aware these can cause drowsiness, so not ideal if you’re taking exams or driving.
Eye Drops & Nasal Sprays
Topical antihistamines can control and relieve symptoms quickly. These can be used as well as an antihistamine tablet, plus they’re handy to have on you throughout the day for extra relief.
Steroid Nasal Sprays
These can only be used if your 18 years old or over but are very effective at reducing inflammation and nasal symptoms.
You can get decongestant tablets containing pseudoephedrine that can help if you suffer particularly with a blocked nose or runny nose, however they are for short-term use only.
Handy Hay Fever Tips
There are a number of helpful tips that can help prevent certain symptoms or generally just reduce the symptoms, these include:
- Between 5pm and 7pm is when the pollen count is at its highest, so if you can try and avoid being outside at this time.
- Keep windows and doors closed, especially when sleeping.
- Taking a shower/washing your hair/changing your clothes when you get home after being outside to remove the pollen.
- Wearing sunglasses can reduce the amount of pollen reaching your eyes.
- Use air con wherever possible as this removes pollen and allergies from the air.
- Try to be aware of the pollen count, which can be checked on weather websites and apps.
- Avoid areas of high pollen concentration, such as; long grass, lawn cuttings and trees.
- Wash bedding regularly.
- If you have pets be aware that they can carry pollen and allergies.
As you’ll now know there is nothing that completely “cures” hay fever but there are plenty of products out there to help reduce and relieve the symptoms. Plus, be aware it takes people a while to find the right product that works for them so don’t give up hope and remember to try a combination of treatments too, for example a “one a day” antihistamine tablet and hay fever eye drops. Finally, if hay fever is still a problem for you and you feel like giving up all hope then you can visit your Doctor as there is also plenty of products you can get on prescription which are stronger than the over the counter products – so don’t give up hope and try and win the battle with hay fever this summer!