When the sun is out and the weather is warm, it’s natural to want to spend as much time as possible outside.
But if you’re one of those who suffer each year from hay fever, basking in a park or stretching out in the garden won’t be much fun.
Hay fever is a common allergic condition that affects up to one in five people at some point in their life.
The pollen released by plants contains proteins that can cause the nose, eyes, throat and sinuses to become swollen, irritated and inflamed.
Symptoms of hay fever can include sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes.
While the hay fever season can start any time from the beginning of spring, many people find their symptoms get worse when the weather warms-up. Aside from the fact that now’s the prime time for grass cutting, we tend to spend more time outdoors.
But while the symptoms of hay fever can feel severe, pharmacist Pushpinder Laly says sufferers should go to their local pharmacy first for advice, rather than their GP.
Pushpinder, from Laly’s Pharmacy in Kingston Road, Buckland, Portsmouth, says: ‘We do get a lot of people here who have started having itchy eyes, a runny nose and sneezing.
‘With some people it can be quite bad. If the pollen count is high it can affect people very badly.
‘But there are a lot of over-the-counter products they can take. We will talk to them about their symptoms.
‘Some people might need antihistamines and there are nose sprays and eye drops as well.
‘The pharmacist is always there and saves you running to the GP.’
Many people do find that their symptoms improve as they get older. Around half of people report some improvement after several years.
Liquid antihistamines are available for children, but Pushpinder says it’s better for pregnant women to avoid taking hay fever medication if possible, particularly during the first trimester.
While there’s no cure for hay fever, there’s plenty people can do to relieve symptoms.
And Pushpinder says lifestyle changes can make a real difference.
‘We sometimes recommend to a patient simple changes that will help them,’ she adds.
‘I think you sometimes have to give your body a change. If you do suffer badly, don’t go to the park and have picnics.
‘If you’ve been outdoors you might need to take a shower and even wash your hair before bed because the pollen sticks.’