The warmer weather is here and that means one thing, battling invisible airborne pathogens. If you suffer from hay fever you’re not alone, 1 in 5 people in the U.K have it. So why do people get it and what can you do to control the symptoms? Read on to find out.
Hay fever is basically an allergic reaction to pollen, a substance which consists of tiny particles released by plants, grass and trees. You might be thinking why would they do this but in fact, they can’t really help it, it’s part of their reproductive cycle. You may also be wondering why am I getting triggered by plant powder?..
Don’t worry - it’s not because you’re pathetic, it’s actually to do with your immune system. To explain it simply, your body produces immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to harmless pollens and when you are exposed, your immune system overreacts and it causes these antibodies to release chemicals. These chemicals include histamine, which cause the allergic symptoms.
These include but are not limited to:
- Runny or blocked nose
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Red eyes
- Loss of smell
- Itchy throat
Here's 5 tips to help get you outside
1. Limit exposure
Easier said than done when everyone is outside and you’re battling invisible pathogens. Try to keep the windows closed at home, if they (the pollen) can’t get to you, it’s happy days.
2. Wash yourself and your clothes
Shower and change your clothes if you’ve been outside as the pollen sticks to clothes. Also when you’re drying your clothes, don’t leave them outside in the sun.
First line stuff really. Antihistamines include Cetirizine, Loratadine or Chlorphenamine. There are also stronger alternatives such as Fexofenadine. Decongestants can help relieve the congestion you may get in your sinuses and there’s always eye drops too for those itchy eyes - ask your GP or pharmacist for advice.
It might not be the most glamorous look but putting Vaseline around your nostrils can be helpful in trapping the pollen.
5. Wear shades
As well as completing your look, sunglasses can help shield your eyes from pollen exposure. Wraparound or aviator style ones are probably best.
Although there is no cure for hay fever, trying these tips can hopefully help you to control the symptoms. Good luck.
Dr Zobir Alexander, MB ChB, BSc (Hons) - Senior Writer