Hay fever: Seven tips to help ease the sneeze
Spring has sprung. But if your eyes water at the thought of pollen here’s some tips to help get you through the sneezing season.
1. Know the trigger?
Pinpointing what you are allergic to, if you can, is really important so you can try to avoid exposure to those allergens if possible.
Pay attention to the timing of your symptoms. Do the symptoms go away when you’re on holidays?
Look at the plants, trees and weeds that grow in your garden or in near your home.
2. Visit your doctor
Your GP will usually be able to confirm whether or not you have hay fever by asking about your symptoms and when you get them. They may advise you to have a skin-prick allergy test to help determine if you have any allergies.
They can also provide advice about treatments that may be suitable for you, to help you manage your hay fever (see below).
3. Avoid exposure
- Check the daily pollen count for your area, so that you can take any medicines recommended for you when the pollen count is higher than normal (for example on sunny and windy days).
- Keep household or car windows closed, if possible, especially when the pollen count is high.
- If you do go outdoors, it can help to change your clothes and shower when you get home.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. It may also help to wash your hands and then rinse your eyes with water regularly.
- Keep your house as clean and dust-free as possible to help minimise the dust mites, mould and pet hair that can cause allergies.
- If grass is a trigger, avoid mowing the lawn, or wear a mask when you do.
- Take your shoes off when you go inside to avoid bringing allergens inside.
4. Don’t smoke
Smoking, including second hand smoke, can make the symptoms of hay fever worse.
Chemicals like pesticides, insect sprays and paint can also affect you.
5. Reduce your alcohol intake
Beer, wine and spirits can contain histamines which can trigger sneezing, a runny nose and wheezing, and can make you more sensitive to other allergens.
6. Plant a low allergen garden
If the plants that are driving you crazy are right outside your window, perhaps some landscaping is in order.
Avoid wind-pollinated plants, and European trees including Ash, Birch. Instead choose nectar-rich varieties like Australian native plants which are labelled “bird pollinating” and other low-pollen producing varieties of plants and grass.
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There are a lot of different medications available for hay fever including over-the-counter or prescription-only medicines.
Antihistamines can help relieve your symptoms, corticosteroid nasal sprays can reduce or even prevent inflammation of the nasal passages, and decongestants can provide temporary relief, as can eye drops.
It’s important to get advice from your GP or pharmacist before you take any medicine, to make sure the medication is right for you and safe for you to take.