According to NHS Inform, more than 10 million people suffer with hay fever in England. While it doesn’t pose a significant threat to health, the condition can be debilitating and negatively affect your quality of life.
In fact, a 2018 study commissioned by Well Pharmacy indicated that almost 20% of people with hay fever have had to take time off work. Read on to find out more about hay fever and our tips to minimise its impact.
What is hay fever?
Hay fever is caused by the release of pollen from plants, which can trigger an allergic reaction. The severity can vary greatly between people and depend on the level of pollen.
Our eyes can be particularly affected by hay fever, with symptoms including:
- itchy, watery eyes
- red, bloodshot eyes
- eyelids that are slightly swollen
- slight burning sensation
You might also experience other symptoms, such as:
- frequent sneezing
- a blocked or runny nose
Different plants release specific types of pollen throughout the year, so it could be that you’re allergic to one particular species. Looking at a pollen calendar provides a good starting point for working this out, but it’s also worthwhile talking to your doctor.
While there is no known cure for hay fever, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the intensity of your symptoms.
Managing hay fever symptoms
Avoid exposure to pollen
It’s not always easy on a warm, sunny day, but staying indoors and keeping windows closed is one of the best ways to avoid pollen.
Be sure to check the pollen forecast and avoid going outside on days where it’s rated ‘High’. It’s worth noting that pollen levels do tend to be higher earlier in the morning as well as the late evening, but occasionally they can remain high throughout the day.
For days where avoiding pollen simply isn’t possible, ensure you’re stocked up on your preferred form of treatment.
Protect your eyes
Sunglasses don’t just protect you from damaging UV rays, they can also reduce the amount of pollen and dust getting into your eyes. Try a wraparound style of sunglasses for a particularly effective solution.
Another common tip is to apply a petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, around your nostrils to trap pollen and avoid it irritating your nose.
Wash away pollen
After coming home from being outside, shower and thoroughly wash your hair to remove pollen particles that can cause irritation. If you can’t do so straight away, make a point of showering before bed to avoid getting pollen on your pillowcase.
Similarly, it’s a good idea to change your clothes once inside, and avoid hanging any clean laundry outside where pollen may stick to it.
Find a treatment that works for you
Consult with your doctor or pharmacist to find a treatment that suits you, whether that’s antihistamine tablets, nasal sprays or otherwise.
If your hay fever tends to primarily affect your eyes, try specialist anti-allergy eye drops with Sodium Cromoglicate, or products created for irritated eyes. Eye washes are also a gentle, effective way to remove irritants and relieve symptoms.
Keep on top of household chores
Vacuuming frequently and using a damp cloth to dust can help minimise the effects of any pollen that’s made its way inside your home.
Of course, you’ll also probably want to avoid doing the gardening – especially mowing the lawn or cutting back trees, which can release a surge of pollen. If you’re particularly green-fingered, try to save this for days where the pollen count is low.
Living with hay fever can be a trying, difficult experience – we hope some of these tips help to alleviate the worst of your symptoms. If your hay fever is severe or negatively impacts your quality of life, please talk to your pharmacist or GP for tailored advice.
A simple alternative to eye drops that soothes and relieves irritated, itchy eyes.
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