Sneezes, coughs, runny and itchy eyes… All these things are something that hay fever sufferers have to put up with on a daily basis throughout the summer months. Hay fever is a very common condition - it is estimated that one in four people in the UK suffer with it each and every year. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, typically when it comes into contact with your mouth, nose, eyes and throat. Pollen is a fine powder from plants.
Hay fever is usually worse between late March and September, especially when it's warm, humid and windy. This is when the pollen count is at its highest. Keep an eye on the pollen forecast for the days ahead - you can view this on the MetOffice website.
Symptoms of hay fever may include:
- sneezing and coughing
- a runny or blocked nose
- itchy, red or watery eyes
- itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
- loss of smell
- pain around your temples and forehead
- feeling tired
If you have asthma, you may also:
- have a tight feeling in your chest
- be short of breath
- wheeze and cough
Different types of hay fever allergies
Not all hay fever sufferers are allergic to the same type of pollen, which means everyone’s symptoms and time that they suffer with them will be different. The most common pollen allergy in the UK (50% of sufferers) is from grass (peak time May to July/August), followed by tree pollen (peak time April/May).
Different trees produce pollen at different times of the year, so your patients’ symptoms will be at their worst depending on the type they’re allergic to. Perennial allergic rhinitis is similar to hay fever but occurs all year round. It is commonly caused by house dust mite or cat and dog hair allergens.
Tips for relieving your hay fever symptoms
Although hay fever isn’t something that can be cured, and is often down to your genes, there are some steps you can take to make the summer months as comfortable as possible and will hopefully save you having to take a box of tissues everywhere you go.
Start treatment early
Prevention is always better than a cure. Whichever treatment combination you choose to use to relieve your symptoms, make sure you start taking it a good few weeks before peak hay fever season starts. We would recommend starting it at the beginning of March for optimum protection.
Sometimes, you just have to go outdoors during the summer. There are some steps you can take to try and protect you from overly exposing yourself to pollen:
- Wear wraparound sunglasses
- Use a nasal barrier cream
- Avoid large areas of grass or trees, depending on what you are allergic to
- Shower, wash your hair and change your clothes when you get home to remove pollen particles from your body
Around the home
We think of pollen just being outside, but it can very easily enter your home and be affecting you more than you are aware of. Try to keep your doors and windows shut as much as possible, especially at night. Avoid drying your clothes and bedding outside, as they can very easily collect a lot of pollen whilst they are on the washing line. Keep your home as clean as possible - dust and vacuum everyday for maximum protection. Not only will this remove pollen from your home, but many hay fever sufferers are also allergic to dust too, which will only exaggerate your symptoms.
Do you need help with your hay fever?
If you are a hay fever sufferer, the chances are you will have tried a combination of the above suggestions. If none have worked for you, we can help put together a personalised treatment plan to help you control, manage and relieve your symptoms.
Louise Idoux is a highly experienced medical herbalist based in Oswestry, Shropshire, and she will be able to provide you with advice and herbal medicines that might finally give you the relief from hay fever you have been searching for.