Pharmacist Graham Hibbins, from Strachan’s Chemist, looks at hay fever and its symptoms
I KNOW I’m being optimistic but hopefully the weather will soon be warm and sunny.
Unfortunately this can be a problem for about 13 million people in the UK as they experience the unpleasant symptoms of hay fever. Frequent sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes and difficult breathing especially with asthmatics can make a miserable summer for some.
This is an allergic reaction to pollen, a fine powder that is released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle. People can react differently to particular pollens, so the symptoms can vary from one person to another.
Tree pollen is released in early spring, grass pollen at the end of spring and beginning of summer, whereas weed pollen is released in the late autumn.
Hay fever can start in young children from about five, and it tends to be more common in boys than girls and is usually hereditary, particularly if there is a family history of allergies (asthma or eczema).
Unfortunately at the moment there is no cure for hay fever. However, you can grow out of it as you get older.
The best way of managing the symptoms is to visit your local pharmacy where staff will be happy to advise you. They may well recommend oral antihistamines, nasal sprays or eye drops. These should be taken regularly during the hay fever season. The newer tablets don’t cause drowsiness, however care should still be taken when driving or using machinery and alcohol can make drowsiness worse.
Other tips I can recommend include applying a small amount of Vaseline to the nasal openings to trap pollen, taking regular showers and changing clothes after being outdoors, try to stay indoors when the pollen count is very high and wear close-fitting sunglasses to prevent pollen entering the eyes.
If all else fails, (apart from going to the sea side or a cruise ship), you could see your GP, who may administer steroids either by tablets or injection (in severe cases).
Although very unpleasant for some, hay fever is not life threatening. However caution should be given to asthmatics if breathing gets worse.
Fortunately the season is not to long and symptoms can pass quite quickly but I’m sure many will disagree!
Next month, as summer approaches and people go on holiday I am going to talk about sunburn and its dangers.
Visit Strachan’s Chemist at 7 New Street, Uppermill, Saddleworth, OL3 6AU or call: 01457 820228.