Don't let hay fever get you down this summer

Pollen counts are high! Hay fever is the most common seasonal allergy, affecting one in five of us at some point in our lives, and the symptoms can make life very difficult for sufferers. It can come and go at any time in life so for those that haven’t had it before it can take us by surprise.

But it doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying the warmer weather outdoors. Your local pharmacist can recommend treatments to ease the symptoms.

Local GP Dr Arv Guniyangodage, chair of Basildon and Brentwood CCG, said: “Although there is no cure for hay fever, there are many over-the-counter remedies available from your local pharmacy to help make life and the condition easier to manage during the summer months.

“Pharmacists are fully trained health professionals who can offer useful advice on treatments for hay fever, such as antihistamines.

“Antihistamines are commonly used for hay fever. They block the action of the chemical histamine, which the body releases when it thinks it is under attack from an allergen like pollen.

“Decongestants can also help to relieve a blocked nose which is often caused by hay fever, as well as dust allergies and pet allergies.

“For those already taking regular medication, pharmacists can advise on the most appropriate treatments that won’t interfere with it.

“If you’ve tried over-the-counter medicines but are still struggling with troublesome symptoms it may be worth speaking to your GP, as you may need prescription medication.”

Hay fever is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen and the hay fever season lasts for several months, with tree pollen released in the spring, grass pollen in late spring and summer, and tree pollen in the autumn.

Symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes as pollen causes the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses to become swollen, irritated and inflamed. As well as seeking advice from your local pharmacist to ease its symptoms, sufferers can take some basic precautions to help prevent hay fever, including applying a small amount of Vaseline (petroleum gel) below the nostrils to trap pollen grains, and wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting in the eyes.

It’s also a good idea to take a shower and change your clothes after being outdoors, and try to stay indoors when the pollen count is particularly high (over 50 grains per cubic metre of air).

Knowing the pollen count can help hay sufferers. The Met Office provides pollen forecasts for up to five days ahead.

For more information about treating hay fever, visit www.nhs.uk

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