Dear doctor, how can I manage my hay fever so I can enjoy my job again?

24 July 2018

I’m a dog walker and work outside all year round, but in the summer I really suffer from hay fever and find I constantly have a blocked nose and sinuses and often get headaches. How can I manage my hay fever so I can enjoy my job again?

Summer grass pollen from May to August can really irritate the nose, eyes and throat, so it is best to find ways of avoiding the pollen as much as you can by staying indoors when the count is high.

If you need to be outside then you can protect yourself and reduce the effects of the pollen. Apply an effective allergen barrier balm around the edge of each nostril to trap or block pollens and other allergens and help prevent a reaction.  Allergen barriers are available as balms or gel nasal sprays and some people have found petroleum jelly can help.

A hat with a peak or large brim can help keep pollens from your eyes and face and wearing wraparound sunglasses when outdoors will keep pollen allergens out of your eyes. When you return home use a saline nasal wash to remove pollens and allergens and on high pollen days, shower (and wash your hair) after arriving home and change your clothing.

Also, don’t let pets get close to your face as they can carry pollen in their fur. Wipe their coats with a damp microfibre cloth to remove pollens when they have been outdoors.

Treatments such as intranasal corticosteroids can be purchased from the pharmacy and can be most effective for a wide range of symptoms, although they can take up to two weeks to work.

Eye drops (antihistamine) and non-sedating antihistamine for use in the daytime, or a sedating one for use at night can also offer relief from symptoms. Decongestants can relieve your congestion and nasal antihistamine can help within 15 minutes.

Always check with your pharmacist that any hay fever treatments are compatible with other medication you take and contact your local medical centre if your symptoms persist.

Find out more about Dr Zaid Hirmiz, private GP practicing at Spire Portsmouth Hospital.


The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.

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