Spring is here but that won’t fill hay fever sufferers with joy. SARAH FOSTER finds out how sufferers can cope.
The prolonged spell of cold weather means spring was delayed and experts say the hay fever season will subsequently last longer this year. And that means those allergic to pollen – approximately 20 per cent of the UK population – can expect their symptoms to stick around for many months to come.
Dr Jurgita Cekanaviciene, from Portsmouth’s Guildhall Walk Health Centre, says hay fever is common in the spring and summer because that’s when pollen is in the air.
‘The allergy affects the nose, sinuses, throat and eyes and can cause sneezing, a blocked, runny nose and itchy eyes,’ she explains.
‘It can cause real problems for sufferers, including disrupted sleep and a lack of concentration at work, as well as some enforced lifestyle changes.’
Hay fever symptoms may appear at different times of the year, depending on which types of pollen you are allergic to.
Typical symptoms include frequent sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, itchy, red or watery eyes and an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears.
Other less common symptoms may include the loss of your sense of smell, facial pain caused by blocked sinuses, sweats and headaches.
Jurgita, pictured below, says sufferers should visit their GP.
She adds: ‘Hay fever can’t be cured completely but there are a number of treatment options that can help to relieve symptoms, including antihistamine tablets, which can prevent the symptoms of the allergic reaction from occurring, and nasal sprays and eye drops, which have an anti-inflammatory effect.
‘Some medications are available over the counter in pharmacies but many require a prescription so it’s best to consult your own GP.
‘The best advice is to try different medication and if the one you are prescribed is not effective, don’t be scared about going back to your doctor to discuss alternatives.’
Taking medication early will help prepare your immune system. Sufferers should also avoid cutting grass and stay indoors when the pollen count is high.
‘If you need to go outside, change your clothes and take a shower when you come back in to wash the pollen off your body,’ says Jurgita.
‘Keeping windows and doors shut in the house and keeping car windows closed might also help to relieve symptoms.’
For more advice visit nhs.uk or allergyuk.org. Guildhall Walk Health Centre is open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week. For more information visit guildhallwalkgp.co.uk