If you suffer from Hay Fever - read on. The Pollen Count is about to soar...
Pollen levels are reportedly set to soar across parts of the UK & Ireland over the next few weeks - which means that those of us who suffer from hay fever are in for a rough time...
Sun & BBQ weather - yes please (any chance to get the flip flops out...)! However the great weather isn'tt so great for Hay Fever sufferers: it's predicted that this summer will see particularly high pollen counts.
Because of the recent rain we’ve had, which was then followed by some gloriously sunny, hot (perfect golfing) weather, the pollen count is set to be high.
WHAT IS HAY FEVER?
You'll know all about it if you're affected by hay fever. Those itchy, watery, burning eyes. The sneezing that won't stop, and seems to be more dramatic than a normal sneeze. The tingling, runny nose that doesn't stop. Often these symptoms are combined with headaches and tiredness.
Hay fever is a common allergic reaction that occurs at particular times of the year. It’s sometimes known as ‘seasonal rhinitis’, as it has similar symptoms to allergic rhinitis (which can occur all year round).
An allergy is caused by your body producing allergic antibodies to certain substances (known as allergens). Hay Fever is basically an allergic reaction to pollen from grass, trees and weeds during the early spring and summer months. It can affect both adults and children.
(image credit: The Guardian)
Symptoms of hay fever include: itchy or ‘burny’ eyes and/or throat, sneezing, a blocked or runny nose, watering or red eyes, headaches, blocked sinuses, shortness of breath, tiredness, and the sensation of mucus running down the back of the throat (called ‘post-nasal drip’).
One in five people in the UK is thought to suffer from hay fever. The bad news is that there is no cure for hay fever; you can however take steps to manage the symptoms of hay fever.
REDUCING THE SYMPTOMS OF HAY FEVER:
So what can be done to manage your hay fever symptoms (short of spending the next 4-5 months inside a gas mask)?
The first step I'd suggest taking is to visit a health professional, such as your local pharmacist. Yes - I'd say that anyway because I work for Gordons Chemists, BUT NEVERTHELESS (and I'm not just saying this) he or she is a great person to go to first.
Your local pharmacist is a highly qualified medical professional who's available on your high street or local shopping centre - without an appointment. Usually you’ll be able to call in unannounced and ask for a quiet word with them, and get talking to them within a few minutes.
(Personally, I find it much more convenient than making an appointment to see my GP, and it's definitely a lot quicker. The last time I tried to make an appointment to see my GP I was told that it would be 2-3 weeks before I'd be seen. Telling the receptionist that "I'll probably not still be sick by then" didn't get me an appointment any quicker... )
There are a range of medicines and treatments that can be taken to help manage your hay fever symptoms - such as antihistamine tablets, eye drops or nasal sprays. Your pharmacist can advise what’s best for you, and sell you this over the counter, there and then.
A great product that I’ve recently discovered is Hay-Band Hay Fever Relief Arm Band. It’s a band that is positioned around your elbow. It contains a small ball or stud, which sits against your skin in the fold of your elbow. This uses acupressure to stimulate the LI-11 pressure point in the arm. This pressure point has been used for centuries to help treat the symptoms of allergies, including hay fever.
A treatment like Hay-Band might sound a bit ‘out-there’; but I suffer from both hayfever and allergies to cats and dogs. I gave Hay-Band a go and I’m now continuing to wear it, because it really works. If you've experienced bad hay fever, you'll understand that you'd quite literally tear your hair out to make that burning itch stop. You'd try anything. My advice is to give Hay-Band a try.
Another device (admittedly one that's a good bit more expensive) is the Salin Plus Salt Therapy Air Purifier. It draws air that is circulating in a room through a salt filter, and purifies it. In addition to helping with allergies like hay fever and rhinitis, it can also help with conditions that affect the airways and breathing - such as Asthma. (I actually use the Salin Plus device at home as well: here's a piece I wrote about it on our Facebook page a few years ago.)
There are certain other medications which are available only with a prescription. If the medication your pharmacist has recommended isn’t working, you may wish to make an appointment and speak with your GP about these.
After you've been to your pharmacist or GP for advice on managing your hay fever symptoms, here are some other tips to try.
WATCH THE CLOCK TO HELP MANAGE YOUR HAY FEVER SYMPTOMS
At certain times of the day, the pollen count will be higher than at other times. On a typical ‘high count’ day (think dry, warm and sunny) at this time of year, the first half of the morning and later in the afternoon until late evening are the times to avoid being outside.
This is because pollen gets caught up in air currents and rises up - away from nose level - during the day. Earlier on, and later in the day, the pollen is closer to the ground. When it's hotter until much later in the day, the risk of high pollen levels descending could continue all night.
WASH IT OFF
Pollen is made up of fine, microscopic grains which are released into the air by grass, plants and trees. They are carried on the wind, easily inhaled by humans and pets, and they stick to everything.
If your hay fever symptoms are bad, or if you’ve been outside for much of the day, it's a good idea to wash it all off once you get home. Take a shower, and wash your hair. Change your clothes as well.
(For the same reason, you might want to avoid drying your clothes on a line outside when the pollen count is high.)
Get the vacuum out! Vacuuming the house regularly, and dusting with a damp cloth will help to prevent pollen accumulating indoors, and irritating your eyes and nose.
Keep windows and doors shut as much as possible will help to reduce the pollen count indoors.
KNOW WHAT THE WEATHER IS DOING
Monitor the weather forecast (and in particular the pollen count) every day. Keep an eye on what the so-called ‘weather experts’ are predicting about the days ahead – so that you can be prepared.
When it's warm, humid and windy, the pollen count is generally higher. Rainfall decreases pollen concentration in the air - particularly if it rains heavily in the morning. The amount of daylight also plays a role - plants and trees will produce less pollen when it's cloudy.
OTHER TIPS TO MANAGE YOUR HAY FEVER SYMPTOMS:
Wearing wrap-around sunglasses can help stop pollen getting in your eyes. Hay fever might just be the reason to need to justify ‘investing’ in a new pair of sunglasses!
Putting Vaseline around your nostrils can help trap pollen, and stop it from entering your nostrils.
Don't keep fresh flowers in the house. Don't cut the grass, or walk on freshly cut grass (hay fever can be used as a great excuse for letting your lawn reach jungle-like proportions, or for coercing someone else into mowing it for you … ).
Don't smoke or be around people smoking, because that makes symptoms worse. Avoid alcohol - beer, wine and spirits contain histamine (the chemical that triggers allergy symptoms in your body).
Pets can carry pollen so don't encourage them to come indoors unless this is necessary, or part of their regular routine. Get someone to brush them regularly, and vacuum their beds and any areas where they might be in the house (carpet, seats etc).