People in the UK are being plagued with hay fever at the moment, with high pollen counts causing runny noses, sneezing and itchy or watery eyes. RSVP Live spoke to Doctor Laura Lenihan, a GP based in Galway, Ireland, for her advice.
“Hay fever is an allergy to pollen and it tends to present from late March to early September,” she said. “It can get worse at certain times during that period when the pollen count is higher.
“It’s important to be aware of things that can make it worse, like freshly cut grass, particular trees or flowers. People tend to know if they have hay fever: the main symptoms are an itchy throat and eyes, a runny nose, a cough in some cases.
“A lot of people who suffer from hay fever will also suffer from asthma or allergic rhinitis which are atopic syndromes. For most people who suffer from hay fever, it’s a life-long thing and starts early in life, but like any allergy it can also come on later in life.”
She added: “I often find tips to reduce hay fever, like staying indoors and keeping the windows closed, are super unhelpful. Things like that are difficult to do, especially in the summer months when it’s warm. However, there are a few tricks that can help.
“Putting Vaseline underneath your nose is a good one, as it can trap the pollen before it enters the nasal passages. Other things like wearing wraparound sunglasses can stop the pollen getting into your eyes and causing itchy, watery eyes. You should also avoid drying your clothes and bedsheets outside because they can pick up pollen.
“Knowing what your triggers are can be really helpful as well. There are different types of pollen, so if it’s particularly bad, you could see your GP or talk to an immunologist about it and get a proper diagnosis and allergy testing to find out what type of pollen you’re allergic to.”
The best treatments are antihistamines which you can buy over the counter in the pharmacy. You could also speak to your GP about antihistamine nasal sprays, and prescription antihistamines.
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