Hay fever is a condition that affects 2 to 3 million people in Britain every year. It is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen and mold, and can get serious if not treated appropriately.
Hay fever causes the body’s immune system to overreact in the presence of external substances. This results in irritation and inflammation in the body at large. Often hay fever runs in families and it can also be related to asthma and eczema. It is quite common to find a family with some members affected with asthma, some with hay fever, and others with eczema. Any individual might have more than one of these conditions.
The symptoms vary from person to person and often involve sneezing, runny/blocked nose; red, watery, and itchy eyes, and itchy throat. Very often there is also wheezing, which can suggest asthma.
Different pollens are present at different times of year. So it’s really difficult to gauge which pollen might have affected you, or the type of pollen that you may be allergic to. There are of course several factors that include both weather and air quality that may aggravate the situation that you already are in.
There are various treatments available over the counter from a pharmacist. Antihistamine tablets are known to reduce the overall severity of the symptoms. There are nasal sprays containing steroids and other substances that reduce the local inflammatory response in the nose. There are also eye drops with similar effects. It is important to note that people with asthmatic symptoms need treatment for asthma and not for hay fever.
Occasionally, the doctor may consider it necessary to prescribe either tablets containing steroids, or possibly an injection to ease your problem. These may have more serious side effects than the other treatments, so it’s your pick really to weigh the possible benefits against the possible disadvantages. There are injection treatments to de-sensitize patients against the substance they may be allergic to. Unfortunately, these can bring on serious reactions, and can only be given under medical supervision.
Although you cannot really change the natural occurrences, there may be several ways to prevent them in these situations as well. These include:
* In the summers, stay indoors between 5 pm and 7 pm, when pollen counts are usually high. Keep windows and doors closed, especially while sleeping.
* Use an air conditioner or filter when possible, at home, work, and in the car, to remove pollen and other allergens from the air.
* Vacuum your home regularly, to minimize the presence of pollen and dust.
* Airing bedclothes in direct sunlight is also helpful.
* Be aware of the pollen count (usually broadcast along with the weather), and avoid areas of high pollen concentration, e.g. long grass, lawn mowings, and trees. If you are working in such an environment, consider wearing a mask and goggles.
* Avoid unnecessary irritants such as smoke and chemical fumes.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.