Allergic rhinitis or, as it is commonly known, hay fever, is a reaction to allergens in the air. Most commonly this is a reaction to the pollen count, but can also be to dust, mould or pet hair. This means that hay fever can strike at any time and can be fairly debilitating for the sufferer. It affects around one in five people in the UK.
Symptoms include a runny or blocked nose (fluid is usually clear), sneezing, red and itchy eyes which are often swollen or watering, loss of smell and a headache or an earache. It can affect the sufferer’s ability to think clearly and causes many to be forced to retreat indoors to avoid increased misery.
Unfortunately, there are currently no permanent treatments for hay fever, but there are ways to manage it.
The first step is understanding what triggers your hay fever; everyone is a little different, so get to know what really sets you off. Try keeping a hay fever diary to see when and where you are most likely to be triggered. Record pollen counts from the Met Office (as shown below) or head to the Met Office website to see the peak seasons and times for different varieties of pollen. The season normally runs from March to November in the UK.
If you do suffer from hay fever then often the easiest remedy is to head inside and shut the doors and windows. However, this isn’t the most pleasant or practical solution.
Our top tips for avoiding a summer meltdown are;
- Avoid vices – alcohol and cigarette smoke (including second-hand) encourage increased reaction to histamines. Certain alcohols contain high levels of histamines themselves and can trigger a reaction.
- Avoid drying clothes outside during peak pollen times; pollen can catch in the fabric.
- If you have been outdoors then make sure you shower and change your clothes.
- Apply Vaseline inside your nostrils – the sticky texture will catch pollen on the way in and trap it before it can affect your sinuses.
- Keep your shades on – sunglasses can stop the irritants from getting into your eyes.
- Keep car windows shut – particularly in areas of high pollution.
- Medication tends to only work short term and will just limit your reaction, but you can get an oral steroid to halt symptoms temporarily (must be taken carefully and should be saved for important occasions).
Monitoring your hayfever can help you find the best ways to alleviate your own symptoms. Make sure to speak to your GP to find out the best course of action to treat your hay fever or to check which pollens specifically affect you.