Lorraine: Dr Hilary on Carol Vorderman's hayfever
When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters.Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer.Our Privacy Notice explains more about how we use your data, and your rights.You can unsubscribe at any time.
Hay fever affects around one in five people at some point in their lifetime and with a hot British summer on the horizon, many will be worried about how the increased pollen count will affect them. Most tend to experience varying degrees of sore, itchy and irritated eyes, as well as feeling congested if the hay fever is left untreated. Eye health specialist and ophthalmologist at Feel Good Contacts, Alastair Lockwood, has explained the science behind hay fever, how the condition affects those who have it and how you can stop the symptoms from ruining your summer.
What is hay fever and how does it affect those who have it?
Hay fever is the common name for allergic rhinitis, an allergy that arises when the body overreacts to allergens and causes inflammation in the nose.
The allergy is often suffered at certain times of the year, and typically reoccurs each year for sufferers.
This type of hay fever is referred to as ‘seasonal’, while some people also suffer from ‘perennial hay fever’, which occurs all year round.
Hay fever is said to affect one in five people during their lives and is a common problem that can get in the way of your day-to-day life.
However, if you understand the cause behind the condition, when you’re at your biggest risk and the treatments are available, you’ll be much better prepared come spring and summertime.
What causes hay fever?
Hay fever occurs when your immune system overreacts to the inhalation of harmless allergens such as pollen, dust or pet dander, releasing substances called histamines into the bloodstream to ‘protect’ your body from these allergens.
These histamines are behind the inflammation of the nasal passage, sinuses and eyelids, causing congestion that, while intended to stop the allergens from getting into your body, actually causes discomfort and irritation.
Seasonal hay fever typically occurs in spring and summer, caused by the extra pollen in the air.
In the spring, pollen from trees is the usual suspect for triggering hay fever, while grass and weed pollen are much more likely to be behind the allergy in the summer.
In these months, pollen is in abundance in the air and can easily be inhaled, causing an allergic reaction within the nose and sinuses. Eyes can also be affected by pollen that gathers on them or on the skin around them, leading to discomfort and irritation.
For sufferers of perennial hay fever, allergies are more likely to be caused by other allergens than pollen. These other allergens can include dust, mould and pet dander.
What are the symptoms of hay fever?
Due to nasal inflammation, common symptoms of hay fever include a runny or stuffy nose, as well as repeated sneezing and itchy sinuses.
However, eyes can also display a number of uncomfortable symptoms, becoming red, itchy and watery when affected.
Other symptoms of hay fever can include headache, earache and general fatigue.
How do you get rid of hay fever?
Over the counter eye drops are available at most chemists and opticians in Britain.
These are specially designed to combat the symptoms of hay fever as they contain antihistamine, which works to relieve symptoms and bring down the allergy.
Other medicines you can find at your local chemists include antihistamine nasal sprays and antihistamine tablets.
If you find that your symptoms don’t improve after you’ve used one of these medications, then you should visit your GP to discuss your condition.
While there are simple and highly effective treatments available, there are also a few precautions you can take to protect yourself from hay fever.
How to prevent hay fever flare-ups
Check the pollen count before heading outside
It’s worth remembering that the pollen count is typically higher earlier in the morning and in the evenings during spring and summer time, so if possible, try to leave the house outside of these times.
If you are staying in, it’s a good idea to keep the windows closed to prevent pollen from getting in.
The Met Office can tell you what the pollen count is in your area that day, so it’s worth checking this before you venture out.
Choose daily contact lenses instead of monthlies
If you’re a monthly or two weekly contact lens wearer during hay fever season, it might be worth speaking with your optician to see if you can switch to daily contact lenses. By replacing the lenses daily, you’ll guarantee that you’ll be applying pollen-free lenses.
However, if you would rather stick with your monthlies or two weeklies, just take extra care to thoroughly clean and store them overnight in contact lens solution to get rid of any tiny bits of pollen that may have accumulated.
Change your clothing
Change your clothes after coming in from outside during hay fever season, as the fabric will have undoubtedly picked up bits of pollen while you were out. It’s also a good idea to keep your shoes stored away, and as close to the door as possible, to prevent pollen being spread throughout the house.
Wash yourself regularly
As well as on clothing, pollen can quite easily gather on your skin while you’re out of the house. Regular washing, especially of your hands and face (including the areas around your eyes) can help clear away any pollen before it can cause irritation.
Source: Read Full Article