Hay fever is a condition also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis which affects 1 in 5 people in the UK. It is a common form of allergy which is primarily caused by grass and hay pollen. It is a seasonal condition which affects people every year in the grass pollen season (around May-July).
The symptoms of hay fever can be irritating, uncomfortable and difficult to manage. Although it can develop at any age, it is most common in children and teenagers. The effects can have a detrimental effect on wellbeing, with research suggesting that 40% of teenagers severely suffering from hay fever during exam periods can lose an entire grade in results.
The common symptoms include dry, irritated eyes; sneezing and a stuffy nose but can vary between regions and people. The symptoms occur as a result of the immune system reacting to the pollen. The sensitive cells on the lining of the nose and eyes release a chemical called histamine which triggers nasal inflammation and irritated eyes.
Current treatments include antihistamines in the form of tablets; nasal sprays; eye drops and creams. These are readily available over the counter at pharmacies and can provide a quick, soothing solution for the symptoms of hay fever. But what else can you do to reduce the symptoms of hay fever?
Choose a pair of sunglasses with a wide wraparound frame such as these Smith Mogul sunglasses with broad lenses which wrap around the front of the head. Unlike narrow round or rectangular frames, this style can provide fuller eye coverage to reduce the risk of pollen entering the eyes. Keep these on at all times when outside for both pollen and full UV protection.
By monitoring the weather reports, it’s easy to track the pollen count before you leave the house. On days with a particularly high pollen count (above 50), it’s wise to stay indoors with windows shut. This minimises your contact with the pollen. If you do go out, try to limit your time spent outdoors, particularly in the countryside. Built-up urban areas are likely to cause less exposure to pollen.
Don’t mow the grass
If you do find yourself outside on a day with a high pollen count, avoid mowing the lawn because this can stir up pollen released by the grass which can intensify the irritating symptoms.
Wash your hands regularly
It’s important to wash your hands and face regularly during hay fever season to keep your eyes and nose clear of pollen. It’s also helpful to avoid touching your face if you have been in contact with pollen.
Apply petroleum jelly
A simple trick is to apply a dab of petroleum jelly just inside your nose. This prevents pollen particles from entering your nose and triggering the unpleasant hay fever symptoms.
Whilst these suggestions may not provide a solution to hay fever symptoms, they are simple, easy ways to minimise your contact with pollen and thus reduce the risk of developing the condition. If you find your symptoms particularly difficult to manage, schedule an appointment with your GP to seek further advice.