While we’ve not had the sunniest of summers so far, the weather looks to improve throughout August. Combining our stormy July with a sunny August can only mean one thing – hay fever season.
We’re all looking forward to making the most of the season with BBQs, holidays, and getting out and about in nature. But, if you’re one of the 13 million people in the UK that has hay fever, then you might have been suffering already.
When you’re out this summer, whether exploring the Great British countryside, jetting off abroad, or simply making the most of your garden, you want to enjoy yourself. What you don’t want is to have a runny nose, itchy, streaming eyes and endless sneezing ruing your fun.
Let’s take a look at the different types of hay fever, top tips for managing and preventing hay fever, and where to find remedies.
What is hay fever?
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen, which usually occurs when it comes into contact with your eyes, nose, throat and mouth. It’s one of the most common allergies in the UK, affecting about 1 in 20 people. Hay fever usually starts when you’re young, but you can get it at any age. In fact, babies and children can suffer with hay fever, and they’re more likely to if other family members also have this allergy.
Different types of pollen can affect different people, at various times of year. For example, in spring there is more tree pollen, in summer, grass pollen is more prevalent, and even into autumn, weed pollen is higher.
The symptoms can come and go during the season, but last for weeks or months at a time overall. You may also find your symptoms are worse during different times of day, such as in the evening.
How to prevent hay fever symptoms
Once you’ve started feeling the symptoms of hay fever, it’s more difficult to get relief. The best strategy is to avoid and ward off pollen before it has a chance to make you sneeze! Here are some useful tips that can help prevent hay fever symptoms:
- Use a cotton bud to put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
- Wear wraparound sunglasses that stop pollen getting into your eyes
- Shower and change your clothes after you’ve been outside to wash pollen off
- Keep windows and doors shut as much as you can
- Dust with a damp cloth and vacuum your home regularly
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter
- Don’t cut grass, or keep fresh flowers in your home
- Avoid drying your clothes outdoors, as they can catch pollen
Quick tips for hay fever relief
If the steps above aren’t enough, or if the pollen has already taken hold, then don’t worry! There are plenty of hay fever remedies to alleviate your symptoms.
For sore, itchy eyes, try washing your face with cool, clean water to rinse away any pollen and reduce the irritation. Special hay fever cleansing wipes can really come in handy when you’re on the go and don’t have access to a bathroom. Available online or at high street pharmacies, hay fever wipes contain soothing ingredients such as tea tree oil for added relief. They’re a great item to have on hand for car journeys, picnics, camping or caravanning!
Anti-allergy eye drops could also work for you. The drops work by stopping your body from producing histamine and other substances that cause allergic reactions, giving you a much-needed break from red, itchy eyes. You can get these in pharmacies or prescribed by your doctor, if your symptoms are that bad.
Steroid and/or decongestant nasal sprays can provide relief from hay fever-induced sneezing, runny nose, and irritation. You can use these regularly, each morning for example, or as and when you need them to open up your airways. Just be sure to follow the dosage instructions that come with your spray.
Is there a cure for hay fever?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for hay fever. However, there are plenty of ways to manage hay fever symptoms, as well as some more long-term solutions.
Finding the right hay fever remedy for you will depend on your symptoms, and when you experience them throughout the year. But, there are plenty of options to try. There are various antihistamine tablets available in pharmacies, or that can be prescribed by a doctor.
These approaches should work for the majority of people who suffer with hay fever. Yet, for a minority, their allergy is so severe that not even these remedies will work.
On the NHS, GPs can refer patients for immunotherapy, which can involve an injection. During this procedure, patients are given small amounts of pollen as an injection or a tablet to slowly build up immunity. If you proceed with this treatment, it will usually start in winter, roughly three months before the hay fever season begins.
There is also a hay fever injection, which contains a dose of corticosteroids, known as Kenalog. This injection can temporarily supress the body’s immune system to stop the ‘haywire’ reaction to pollen. This was available on the NHS until October 2019, when it was withdrawn due to concerns about the side effects.
The Kenalog injection is still available privately, but the Government has issued strict regulations about it being advertised as a ‘hay fever jab’ and made clear it’s not licensed for treating hay fever in the UK. Some of the side effects include raise blood sugar, weight gain, muscle weakness, insomnia, and an increased susceptibility to infections. So, perhaps not the miracle hay fever cure after all!
Join in our Summer of Fun!
With all these hay fever remedies, there’ll be no sneezing or itchy eyes getting in your way this summer. And, at A-Plan, we’re keen to make sure everyone has a great summer. That’s why we’ve collated plenty of cost-effective ideas to help you have a Summer of Fun, as well as some major prize giveaways that you won’t want to miss!
Pop into your local branch to talk with our friendly team or find out what we’re up to on our social media channels, using #APlanSummerofFun.
Sources: Boots, NHS, BBC