It’s nearer the time of year where sniffles and itchy eyes become a daily struggle for many.
And the race to find ways of coping is on, as the Met Office issues its first high pollen warning of 2023.
Claire Nevinson, superintendent pharmacist at Boots, based in Nottinghamshire, said the best way to avoid a hay fever attack is to simply avoid pollen itself.
Failing that, she said you can also help decrease the histamine levels in your body by taking anti-histamine medications such as cetirizine, fexofenadine and loratadine.
But if you can’t avoid pollen and medication doesn’t cure you, Ms Nevinson also revealed eight hacks to make your symptoms more bearable.
It’s nearer the time of year where sniffles and itchy eyes become a daily struggle for many and the race to find ways of coping is on, as the Met Office issues its first high pollen warning of 2023 (stock image)
Check the pollen forecast
You wouldn’t tend to head out without an umbrella when the weather forecast shows that it’s going to rain.
So why would you head out into high pollen unarmed with remedies?
The Met Office forecast gives a daily pollen count level of either low, medium or high and you can use this to help plan ahead.
Ms Nevinson says: ‘When the pollen count is high, it’s likely allergies will be worse at this time.
‘It’s therefore important to keep an eye on the Met Office website daily to monitor the pollen count so you can act fast if needed.’
Whilst keeping your windows open in summer to let the draft in is tempting, it could be making your hay fever worse.
Pollen-carrying breeze can travel in your home through an open window.
‘If you are going out for the day or staying inside your home, ensure windows in your car and house are closed to minimise pollen exposure on days when the count is high,’ Ms Nevinson said.
Know your timings
It is widely assumed that the pollen count is highest when it’s hottest.
But this isn’t always the case.
According to Breathe Right, there’s actually often an abundance of pollen in the evenings.
And a hay fever sufferer’s worst nightmare can occur if a high pollen count is coupled with wet weather, followed by sun, especially in a polluted area, as it can create a ‘pollen bomb’.
Ms Nevinson recommends going out it’s at midday when its usually at its lowest.
‘Take this opportunity to get outside for some fresh air,’ she added. ‘There are lots of other health benefits of getting outside for a walk or gentle exercise, too.’
Be mindful about transferring pollen
If you are a sufferer of hay fever, you may have to adapt your summer routine to suit.
This is because pollen can get stuck to clothing and hair, meaning if you come into the house wearing the jacket you’ve been in all day, it could end all over your house.
And if the pollen is stuck to your hair, you will need to wash it to avoid it causing a reaction a reaction.
Ms Nevinson said: ‘Change your clothes as soon as you come indoors.
‘It’s best to take a shower and wash your hair too, as pollen is difficult to remove unless it’s wet.’
Apply petroleum jelly
Multi-use petroleum jelly can help fight hay fever, as experts say rubbing it around the nostrils creates a barrier that ‘traps’ pollen before you can breathe it in
‘Apply a barrier balm of petroleum jelly, like Vaseline, around your nose to trap pollen,’ Ms Nevinson said.
It is also recommended to re-apply it around the nostrils in the morning, day and night — which can help hay fever sufferers get a better night’s sleep.
This is because the gel can simultaneously soothe dry and itchy skin that is irritated from a constantly runny nose while also blocking out pollen, experts say.
Consider buying an air purifier
Another way of avoiding a negative reactive to pollen is by removing it.
And an air purifier can help you do that by removing the pollen particles in the air.
Ms Nevinson said: ‘A purifier in the home is a great way to clean the air and if you move it to the bedroom at night it can filter out allergens and pollutants such as dust and pollen from your bedroom.’
Find the products or medication that work for you
Some people swear by nasal sprays while others opt for pills.
But finding the right hay fever medication is key to coping during the season.
When pollen from grass and trees comes into contact with the immune cells in the mouth, nose, eyes and throat, the body mistakes the particles for an infection and floods the area with histamine.
Histamine is a natural chemical the body produces to try and flush out the perceived threat and it is this that causes the classic hay fever symptoms. This is why sufferers are encouraged to take antihistamines, as they suppress the chemical.
‘There are a range of hay fever relief products available – from tablets to nasal sprays – you can always speak to your pharmacist to find which products are suitable for you,’ Ms Nevinson advised.
She said to speak to your GP or visit an online doctor if your chose remedy isn’t working.
Know the difference between Covid and hay fever symptoms
Lastly, be sure to know the difference between your hay fever symptoms and those of Covid.
Typical hay fever symptoms include sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, itchy red watery eyes or an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears.
But the most common symptoms of Covid include a high temperature and a new continuous cough.
‘Sneezing is not a symptom of Covid and it’s rare to have itchy, watery eyes or an itchy throat, and hay fever doesn’t cause a high temperature,’ Ms Nevinson added.