pollen seasonThe arrival of spring is always welcome – although maybe not so much for people who suffer from hay fever. Seasonal allergic rhinitis, as hay fever is also known, is triggered by an allergy to various forms of pollen – the tiny 'seed' grains emitted by trees, grass and then weeds as spring turns to summer and then autumn. Right now, we have entered the tree pollen season and here are some of the species whose pollen may cause a problem to those with hay fever:

  • Willow Sycamore
  • Oak
  • Hazel
  • Chestnut
  • Birch
  • Ash
  • Cypress
  • Cedar

Currently, the focus is upon birch pollen which is expected to be more abundant this year because of the mild winter. Weather conditions also mean that the pollen season is going to start a couple of weeks earlier than usual – around March 15 in the south of England, making its way north during early April. It will last for three to four weeks, depending upon the weather.

Symptoms of hay fever include runny nose, watery or sore eyes and blocked nose. Hay fever can interfere with sleep and has been shown to have an impact upon exam results. If you suffer, try these self-help tips (and let us know if you have some of your own to share):

  • Change into indoor or relaxing clothes when you get home from work; also shower and wash your hair to get rid of pollen.
  • Try wearing wrap around sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Don't hang washing outside when the pollen count is high.
  • Wash your clothes in allergy friendly laundry detergent such as Allersearch Allergen Wash.
  • Dust and treat carpets with allergy friendly cleaning products.
  • Limit time outdoors when pollen counts are high, especially in early morning and late evening when pollen levels are at their highest.
  • Create a safe-zone in your bedroom by keeping windows and doors closed and putting your allergy air purifier on a high setting. Also consider using a unit in your office or place of work.
  • Do use the information in pollen forecasts to plan activities if you have to leave the house.

Besides self-help and allergen avoidance, it's important to get your hay fever medication right. What you use needs to be safe and effective. If you are still using sedating anti-histamines, think about the impact the side effects may have on work or school performance and on activities like driving or operating machinery. There are non-sedating alternatives available. It may also be that your medication is not effective for the level of your hay fever symptoms. Again, there are many other options. Most hay fever medications are available over-the-counter but if your usual tablet or spray is not controlling your symptoms, or if you are experiencing side effects, it's worth asking your pharmacist for advice.

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