DR Paul Bowen, clinical chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group and GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton. EVERY summer, hay fever causes misery for hundreds of thousands of people.
Many readers will be all too familiar with wearying symptoms including sneezing fits, runny noses and itchy eyes.
But the good news is that it is possible to control the symptoms of hay fever by taking a few simple steps, even in landlocked counties like Cheshire where pollen tends to hang around longer. I’d recommend wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting in your eyes when you’re outdoors.
You should remove pollen from your body by changing your clothes and taking a shower after being outdoors.
It’s also a good idea to try and stay indoors when the pollen count is over 50, usually in the early evening and when it’s humid or windy.
If you live in a tall building, keep windows closed at midday as pollen rises. If you are a hay fever sufferer, it’s not a good idea to put washing outside to dry if the count is high as pollen can get trapped in the fibres.
Do without fresh flowers in the house and vacuum (ideally using a machine with a HEPA filter) and damp dust regularly.
Plan your garden carefully with low-risk plants and ask someone else to cut the grass if you can.
When driving, it’s important to keep car windows closed and you should consider buying a pollen filter for the air vents. If you’re planning a holiday, pollen may be lower on the coast because sea breezes blow it inland.
Many cases of hay fever can be controlled using over-the-counter medication. Antihistamine tablets, often alongside eye drops and/or steroid nasal sprays, work well for most people.
Sound advice is available online from Allergy UK, the Met Office and NHS Choices.
Hay fever is caused by an allergy to grass or hay pollens. Cells in the lining of the nose, mouth and eyes release a chemical called histamine that triggers cold-like symptoms.
Hay fever usually begins in the early teens and peaks in your twenties.
People become less sensitive to pollen as they get older so, by the time you’re in your mid-forties, hay fever may just be a bad memory and you can really enjoy the spring and summer once and for all.