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Health Matters - Hay fever's not to be sniffed at

Health Matters - Hay fever's not to be sniffed at
04 July 2018

Dr Julia Huddart, clinical lead for urgent and emergency care, NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG

Much like housemaid’s knee and tennis elbow, hay fever is an ailment that’s often a source of mild amusement – to those who don’t suffer from it. However, people afflicted by it will know that it’s nothing to be sniffed it.

That’s why I thought I’d use this week’s column to offer some top tips on managing the symptoms.

The good news is that there are lots of medicines and remedies available from community pharmacies to make life more comfortable and stop the negative effects of pollen overload.

Every pharmacist is trained in managing minor illnesses and providing health and wellbeing advice.

Try these tips:

  • Don’t mow your lawn when the pollen count is high.
  • Create a barrier by smearing balm on your nostrils or using a nasal spray from your pharmacist.
  • Avoid outside activity when the air is warming up and cooling down, as that’s when the pollen count is highest.
  • Open bedroom windows at night but close them in the morning.
  • Dust with a damp or micro fibre cloth and vacuum regularly to stop pollen from becoming airborne.
  • Wash your hair – pollen can stick to your hair and then transfer to your pillow. 

For further advice, NHS 111 is available at any time and can also advise where to go if symptoms of stings or allergies become a cause for concern. For more information, visit NHS Choices.

Hay fever affects around one in four people in the UK with the main triggers being grass and pollen. It is estimated that there are more than 10 million people with hay fever in England.

As the pollen count climbs, hay fever can make everyday life miserable and tiring, with sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose and an itchy throat among the list of symptoms.

There are around 30 types of pollen that cause hay fever. Ninety five per cent of people in Britain with hay fever are allergic to grass pollen. Around 25 per cent of people in Britain with hay fever are allergic to pollen from trees including oak, ash, cedar and birch.

People with an allergy to birch often also experience an allergic reaction to apples, peaches, plums and cherries, as these types of fruit contain a similar protein to birch pollen. It is possible to be allergic to more than one type of pollen.

In the UK, the pollen count season usually runs from late March to September.

Studies have shown that hay fever can severely affect a person’s quality of life, leading to time off work and school, and affecting children’s school exam results. People who suffer rhinitis are at increased risk of developing asthma.