Those who are plagued with hay fever can attest to the inconvenience it can cause to daily life. While most people are able to relish the sunshine, hay fever sufferers can often feel that they have to be confined indoors. But don’t despair; Dear Doctor is here to provide you with the most effective ways of dealing with hay fever.
Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is caused by the immune system identifying allergens in the air, like pollen, as a potential threat. Therefore when pollen particles come into contact with the cells that line your nose, throat and mouth, they trigger an allergic reaction. It’s unclear as to why some people’s immune systems have this reaction to pollen but the NHS states that there are certain factors that may cause it: a family history of hay fever, asthma or exposure to tobacco smoke/ exhaust fumes at a young age. Pollen from grass, trees and weeds can all cause hay fever. Depending on the individual, you may only be allergic to a specific type.
Hay fever is most common between March and September, especially in warm, humid or windy climates. This is when pollen count is at its highest. During pollen season plants tend to release their pollen in the early morning. As the day progresses more flower open, increasing pollen levels. On sunny days the pollen count is usually at its peak in the early evening.
See also: Stay Safe in the Sun
It’s important to identify if you are allergic to pollen, so you can go about dealing with hay fever by taking preventative action. Symptoms of hay fever may include:
- Blocked nose
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- Loss of smell
- Pain around the temples and nose
- Feeling tired
If you also have asthma you may also experience:
- Tight chest
- Shortness of breath
But these are far less common.
One of the most common treatments and preventatives is antihistamines. These are available from a pharmacist over the counter and are available in varying strengths. You can take them at the start of the day if you know you will be spending some time outside. Alternatively they can be used to treat the symptoms once they have started. You can also seek relief in a corticosteroid nasal spray or balm. They have anti-inflammatory properties that are known to be effective. Another way of dealing with hay fever is to use pollen filters on your windows at home, this can prevent reactions when your windows are left open in summer. Additionally, you can be savvy to pollen counts and try to stay indoors when pollen counts are particularly high.
If your condition is severe and doesn’t react to oral or nasal treatments your doctor may suggest a course of immunotherapy. This can involve an injection or an oral tablet that dissolves under the tongue for dealing with hay fever. This involves introducing the allergen into the body under a controlled environment. But this is only an option for more serious cases.
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