Hay fever is an allergy to pollen and is one of the most widespread allergies in the UK, affecting up to 1 in 5 people at some point in their lives. It’s a complex allergy which people may develop early or later in life, and different people will have allergies to different types of pollen. Coping with hay fever is particularly miserable during the summer months, when pollen levels are at their highest, but don’t despair! There are things you can try in order to manage your symptoms.
Common symptoms of hay fever
Hay fever affects people in different ways, but some of the most common symptoms include:
- Itchy eyes
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Sore throat
You may find that you are particularly sensitive to pollen at different times of the year, which will help you to determine what kind of pollen you’re allergic to:
Spring – tree pollen
End of spring/summer – grass pollen
Autumn – weed pollen
Coping with hay fever at home
Even when you’re indoors, you can still be bothered by hay fever symptoms. However, there are things you can do to avoid pollen which should make life a little easier, such as:
- Avoid leaving windows and doors open, especially during the night as the pollen which gathers in the morning can be the most bothersome.
- If you have a garden, avoid mowing the lawn if you can – you can always hire someone or ask a friend or relative to do it for you.
- Avoid bringing fresh flowers home, or try varieties which are less likely to aggravate your symptoms.
- If you’ve been outdoors, it’s a good idea to change your clothes once you’re inside and to wash your hair too.
Coping with hay fever when you’re outside
We realise you can’t stay indoors forever, so when you go outside, follow some simple guidance to help keep your hay fever symptoms at bay, including:
- Avoid particularly grassy areas, especially long grass – head to the beach instead where pollen counts tend to be lower.
- Sunglasses can help to protect your eyes, especially ones with a wraparound design
- Don’t open your car windows, and ensure your car is fitted with pollen filters
Over the counter hay fever medication
Whilst there is no cure for hay fever, there are some over the counter solutions which can help you to manage your symptoms. These include antihistamines which can work as a preventative solution, or corticosteroids – a type of steroids which can help with any type of inflammation. These can be bought from your local pharmacist, but if your symptoms are particularly severe, your GP may be able to help. Eye drops designed for hay fever sufferers can also help to alleviate itchy eyes and are usually widely available in pharmacies and supermarkets.
Whilst hay fever can be troublesome, you shouldn’t let it affect your enjoyment of summer. Taking the right precautions and pre-empting when you might suffer symptoms can ensure that you don’t become controlled by them. For more information about hay fever and the types of treatment available, the NHS has a number of great resources.