ARRRRGH! Hay fever is annoying. If the endless sneezing, stuffy nose and scratchy throat are getting the better of you, here’s what you can do.
1. What causes allergy and hay-fever symptoms?
- It’s an immune system response.
- When the body is exposed to an allergen (such as pollen, mould, house-dust mite, pet dander etc.) it sees the allergen as something foreign.
- The body responds by producing anti-bodies to the “foreign substance”.
- The immune system becomes sensitised and overreacts – a substance called histamine is released, causing blood vessels to open/dilate leading to congestion.
2. How can you prevent it?
Hay fever is an allergic reaction caused by something known as a trigger. Stay away from triggers by doing the following:
- Keep windows closed, stay indoors at midday and during the afternoon, keep air-conditioners on re-circulate
- Avoid fans that circulate allergens
- Wear wrap-around sunglasses when outdoors,
- Remove outdoor clothing before coming indoors (pollen may be present on clothing)
- Shower and rinse/wash one’s hair after coming indoors
- Keep pets off beds and preferably, outdoors
- Vacuum the house with a good quality vacuum cleaner to limit exposure to house-dust mite
- Consider tiled floors, limit carpets and rugs
- Limit soft-toy exposure and wash them regularly
- Attend to damp problems in the home to reduce mould.
If you have an allergy to pollen, here are some useful prevention tips:
- Wear wrap-around sunglasses to stop pollen getting in your eyes when you are outdoors
- Change your clothes and take a shower after being outdoors, to remove any pollen on your body and in your hair
- Stay indoors as much as possible when the pollen count is high (over 50)
- Shave! Yes, guys, pollen can actually collect in your moustache, making your allergies much worse.
3. How can you treat it?
Allergy medication are much more effective if started early, preferably about 2 weeks before the season starts. Even if you don’t have symptoms, it’s a good idea to use saline nasal spray to rinse out your sinuses twice daily. So, for your artillery against the sneeze, use:
- anti-histamine tablets
- eye drops
- cortisone nasal sprays
- saline nasal irrigation