Are you prepared for the hay fever season?

Are you prepared for the hay fever season?

As we enter into March, it’s not just spring that’s around the corner: hay fever season is fast approaching too. Tree Pollens will shortly start to arrive, followed by grass pollens (the cause of 95% of hay fever cases) and, just when you think the worst is over, weed pollens will start to make their appearance from the end of June.

Whilst most people will be looking forward to the better weather warming up to summer, bbq’s and time spent in the garden, an estimated 18 million hay fever sufferers in the UK will be sniffing, sneezing and coughing their way through it. It is also important to remember that it is not just adults who suffer, this is a condition that affects children too. In fact, recent studies have shown a reduction in the exam scores of children suffering hay fever over the season.

So now is the time to prepare. Here’s how…

Firstly, don’t wait for symptoms to start, if necessary visit your doctor. Talk to your doctor about starting your allergy medications before the pollens get underway. Know which pollens are around and when so you can start to pinpoint your hay fever triggers and adapt your lifestyle and medication accordingly. Medications and treatments like non-sedative (non-drowsy) antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays being used for around two weeks before you really need them has been shown to be substantially more effective than starting them when the first symptoms appear. Remember that Pollen levels tend to be higher on warm, dry days. The Meteorological office offers a useful five-day pollen forecast (metoffice.gov.uk).

Dry your clothes indoors, and remember to keep your windows and doors shut at home.  Limiting your exposure to pollen – particularly in your home - can be a big help. Try to keep your home as allergen free as possible by keeping doors and windows shut, particularly around 11am and 6pm when pollen levels tend to peak. Fabric can be a magnet for pollen, so don’t be tempted to hang laundry outdoors to dry when levels are high as drying your laundry outside can bring pollen into the house. You may also find that showering and washing your hair as soon as you get home in the evening can remove any potential irritants, and take your clothes off in the bathroom rather than the bedroom, to avoid your bed linen being lined with allergens.

Keep the car windows up. When in your car, keep your windows up. If you can, adjust your air vents to re-circulate air inside rather drawing in the outside air. It is also advisable to keep the sunroof closed.

Time your outdoor activities carefully. Try to avoid outdoor activities in the early and mid-morning hours. Pollen counts tend to be higher in the morning, and if possible head to the beach; beaches tend to have low pollen levels, so if things become unbearable, a trip to the seaside – where pollen levels are always relatively low - ­will offer some respite. 

Pets and vacuuming. Grooming and washing pets more frequently at this time of year, to remove trapped pollen from their coats, can be helpful too. Dusting your home with a damp cloth and vacuuming more frequently will also help to keep pollen levels down. The British Allergy Foundation have a list of ‘approved’ anti-allergen vacuums that help to filter out pollen on their website: www.allergyuk.org.

Avoid stress. Try to relax and get some sleep too. Research has shown that stress seems to make hay fever worse. It’s thought that the hormone cortisol, which is released into the body when we are stressed, can adversely affect our immune systems. People in the same study that slept for at least seven hours a night were found to have milder symptoms too.

Don’t forget to talk to your Pharmacist. Ask your pharmacist for advice on the best product for your particular set of symptoms, and be prepared to try a few brands and ingredients before you find the product that addresses your symptoms the best. If you continue to struggle with your symptoms, your doctor may be able to prescribe a stronger dosage.

Spencer Private Hospitals are able to offer hay fever sufferers advice and a full range of treatment. From avoidance measures to immunotherapy, here is a list of ways we can support you this hay fever season:

  • Advise on the optimal time to commence treatment and allergen avoidance measures.
  • Oral Antihistamines
  • Antihistamine eyedrops
  • Nasal steroid sprays (using those most suited to children)
  • Leukotriene receptor antagonists
  • Oral steroid courses, if indicated
  • Inhaled bronchodilators (e.g. salbutamol) & Inhaled corticosteroids (e.g. beclomethasone)
  • Inhaled combined medications (e.g. seretide: inhaled corticosteroid and long-acting bronchodilator)
  • Sublingual immunotherapy (Effective and safe desensitisation, if individually appropriate)

Get ahead of hay fever this year by giving us a call on the number above or e-mail us at enquiries@spencerhospitals.com