Top tips on handling hayfever

20 June 2018

Summer has arrived with its promise of beautiful blue skies, warmer days and longer evenings.  However, with unusually high levels of pollen predicted for the coming weeks, for many people, it also represents the threat of their annual flare up of hayfever. Here Doctor Maria Finnegan, Private GP at Spire Washington Hospital, gives her top tips on how to handle hayfever.

“Hayfever is the body's response to an irritant or allergen (such as pollen from trees or grass). Hayfever season actually lasts from spring until early autumn, however, for most people, their reaction is to grass pollen and so we tend to see the bulk of our patients during the summer months.  

“Symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • A blocked or runny nose
  • Red, itchy, runny eyes
  • A scratchy feeling in the throat

“Although hayfever cannot be cured, there are lots of things you can do to help minimise your symptoms. Some of the practical tips I always advise my patients presenting with hayfever symptoms include:

  • Keep windows closed overnight or when the pollen count is high
  • Smear Vaseline under your nostrils - this acts as a type of pollen or allergen trap
  • If eye symptoms are affecting you, wear wraparound sunglasses when you go out
  • Try to use hypo-allergenic bedding and wash bed clothes weekly at a high temperature, then dry them in the tumble dryer or inside the house rather than outside, where pollen could get trapped in them again as they waft in the breeze
  • Vacuum your mattress and pillows using a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) filter
  • Get rid of rugs (and if possible, carpets) as they act as dust/pollen traps
  • Have a shower before bed as this will wash pollens or allergens off your hair and skin

“There are also plenty of very effective hayfever treatments available over the counter, so if your symptoms are not settling with the steps mentioned above, there are things your local Pharmacist can do to help. Their recommended treatment will depend on your symptoms but as a general guide:

  • If you are someone who only gets symptoms now and again, it is perfectly reasonable to try an anti-histamine tablet, as and when needed. There are plenty available over the counter such as Loratadine or Cetirizine and your local Pharmacist will be able to advise on the best one for you.
  • If you are affected by more regular or persistent symptoms, it is worth taking a regular anti-histamine tablet during hayfever season.
  • In cases where nasal symptoms are a problem, steroid nasal sprays or drops can be very effective.
  • If you are bothered by eye symptoms, you could try eye-drops such as those containing Sodium Cromoglycate, which again, are available over the counter.

“If your symptoms are not settling after trying these medications, please do make an appointment to see your GP. We can offer anti-histamines which are only available with a prescription and in severe cases, low doses of steroid tablets can be used for a few days. Whilst we cannot cure hayfever, in most cases following these simple steps will bring great relief.”



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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