The better weather over recent weeks, whilst it now seems like a distant memory, has resulted in a surge in the patients seeking treatment for hayfever.

Hay fever is an allergic reaction caused by breathing in pollen particles or getting them in your eye.  In early spring tree pollens are the first to cause problems, then from May to August grass pollens are the main culprits.  Even in late summer and early autumn there may still be those who are affected by pollen from nettles.

The main symptoms of hay fever are:

1. Sneezing

2. Itchy, runny nose

3. Itchy, watery eyes

4. Itchy throat and ears

5. General feeling of being unwell

 These reactions can be debilitating and interfere with everyday life – making it difficult for the sufferer to concentrate at work or school.

 There are many treatments available – most of which may be purchased over the counter in your local pharmacy.  The main treatment is the use of an antihistamine which can be administered in several different ways – as a tablet or syrup, in eye-drops or as a nasal spray.

One of the most popular treatments is cetirizine tablets – a once a day dose which causes little or no drowsiness.  This is in contrast to some of the older antihistamines which although effective can cause drowsiness.  Cetirizine on its own may be sufficient to control the symptoms but if not, it is advisable to also use eye-drops containing an anti-allergic ingredient such as sodium cromoglicate to soothe itchy eyes.  It is also possible to purchase from the pharmacy, following recommendation by your pharmacist, a nasal spray containing a mild steroid.  These products are useful in more severe cases and may be used for up to three months.  This will control the nasal symptoms and may also help with itchy, watery eyes.

1. As well as controlling the symptoms there are some steps which a hay fever sufferer can take to minimise their exposure to pollen

2. Keep windows and doors closed during peak pollen periods

3. Wear close fitting sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen out of the eyes

4. Keep car windows closed when driving

5. Wash hands often to prevent transfer of pollen to eyes

6. Apply a small amount of Vaseline inside nostrils to trap pollen and prevent it travelling any further

7. Avoid parks and fields especially in the evenings when pollen counts are high and the pollen particles hover at nose level

8. If you can, get someone else to cut your grass! 

With the variety of products available over the counter at your local pharmacy and the help of the pharmacist it should be possible to control hay fever and enjoy the summer sun, or what we see of it.


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