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Top tips for surviving hay fever season

Feeling the effects of the high pollen season? Read our top tips for managing hay fever symptoms.

Hayfever affects almost 10 million people in England, and these poor unfortunates have been particularly badly hit this season thanks to unusually high levels of pollen [1].

Although waking up to the recent sunshine streaming through the curtains is a lovely feeling, for those who suffer from hay fever, this blissful feeling is bittersweet as they prepare for a day full of itchy eyes, sneezing constant and a runny nose.

With the Met Office predicting 'very high' pollen levels this weekend, we've created a handy guide for sufferers to manage their hay fever symptoms [2].

What is hay fever?

Hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction to the pollen produced from grasses, trees or weeds that are carried in the air during the spring and summer months. The body releases histamine into the bloodstream which causes a runny nose, sneezing and watering eyes. Out of the people in the UK who suffer, 95% of these are allergic to grass pollen. Some people are just allergic to one type of pollen while others can be allergic to all 3 different types of pollen.

The NHS says hay fever is at its peak between late March and early September. The pollen season is divided into three main phases:

  • Tree pollen: late March to mid-May
  • Grass pollen: mid-May to July
  • Weed pollen: end of June to September [3].

What are the symptoms of hay fever?

  • A runny or blocked nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Earache
  • Loss of smell
  • Pain around your temples and forehead

How to treat hay fever yourself

Sadly, there is no cure for hay fever but there are several things you can do to ease your symptoms when the pollen count is high:

  • Put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen from getting into your eyes
  • Shower and change your clothes after you have been outside to wash pollen off
  • Stay indoors whenever possible
  • Keep windows and doors shut as much as possible
  • Vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
  • Buy a pollen filter for the air vents in your car and a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter
  • Avoid alcohol as it contains histamine
  • Avoid smoking as it can irritate the lining of the nose, eyes, throat and airways.

You can also visit your local pharmacist if you have hay fever. They can provide you with advice and find you the most suitable treatments, like antihistamine drops, tablets or nasal sprays.

To keep up to date with the latest pollen forecast, you can download the Met office weather app and turn on your pollen notification for daily updates.

References

1. https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/warnings-and-advice/seasonal-advice/health-wellbeing/pollen/surviving-hay-fever

2. https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/warnings-and-advice/seasonal-advice/pollen-forecast#?date=2021-06-17

3. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hay-fever/