HEALTH NEWS: We tackle how best to manage hay fever
According to Allergy Ireland, hay fever affects around 20% of the population, in particular teenagers and young people. However more and more of the population are experiencing hay fever symptoms for the first time as adults, with WhatClinic.com noting a 19% increase in those searching for allergy testing.
Climate change, increased pollution and the introduction of new species of exotic plants into the country have all been linked to the increase in people affected, but whatever the cause the experience is an unpleasant one that suffers have come to dread every year.
Paula Reilly, Boots Pharmacist, gives us a rundown on how to spot symptoms for new sufferers and how best to minimise your exposure to pollen this summer.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Runny or blocked nose
Itchy, red or watery eyes
An itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
Loss of smell and taste
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF?
1. Be aware of the pollen count (usually broadcast along with the weather during the summer months) and where possible, stay indoors when the pollen count is high.
2. Wear wrap-around sunglasses to protect your eyes from irritation caused by pollen getting into your eyes.
3. Before you head out, rub a small amount of petroleum gel inside your lower nostrils to help prevent pollen from entering your nasal passages or spray a barrier powder into your nostrils to protect against sneezing and a runny nose.
4. Change your clothes and take a shower when you come in from being outdoors to remove any pollen from your body.
5. When driving, keep car windows closed.
6. When indoors, keep windows and doors closed in the house.
7. Wear a mask if cutting the grass and wear gloves and a wide-brimmed hat when gardening.
Once you experience symptoms it is advisable to speak to your pharmacist who can recommend appropriate treatment options to relieve your symptoms. Some medications work best before coming in contact with the allergen. There are products available as tablets, which work systemically to treat all/many of the symptoms, or there are topical treatments such as nasal sprays or eye drops, which work more directly to treat specific symptoms. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you on this.
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT:
Hay fever suffers can now benefit from Ireland’s first hay fever app, Hay Fever Relief. Simply input your symptoms, and their app, which was developed by Dublin GP, Dr Paul Carson will grade the severity of your hay fever and recommend a suitable treatment. It can can be downloaded for free from the App Store.
ONE FOR THE KIDS:
HayMax Kids is an organic 100% drug-free allergen barrier balm suitable for babies, toddlers, children and teenagers. The balm helps trap pollen, dust and pet allergens. When applied around the base of the nostrils, it forms an invisible barrier which studies show traps dust and pet allergens and over one third of pollen grains before they enter the body. As long as this is enough to keep the sufferer below their sensitivity level, their symptoms won’t be triggered.