Hay Fever and Other Allergies
April 23rd – 29th marks Allergy Awareness Week. The week is designed to raise awareness of people living with allergies. This year the focus in on travelling with allergies and how to prepare for holidays, both abroad and in the UK if you have an allergy.
According to the latest figures, the UK has some of the highest prevalence rates of allergies in the world, with over 20% of the population affected by one or more allergic disorders. The most common form of allergy is hay fever (allergic rhinitis). Hay fever can lead to redness and itchiness in the eyes and even allergic conjunctivitis.
Not only is hay fever the most common form of non-infectious rhinitis, accounting for 16.7 million GP visits every year, hay fever sufferers are also at a higher risk of developing asthma.
Hay fever season starts in late March and continues through to September as trees, weeds and grasses go through their pollination cycles.
A recent study, published in Science of The Total Environment journal, has mapped out the allergenic pollen vegetation in the UK. The study identified 12 key allergenic vegetation types and created maps to show the density of each one.
How to Protect Yourself From Pollen
Exposure to allergenic pollen from certain trees, grasses and weeds is associated with a range of health effects, including allergic rhinitis (hay fever), exacerbation of asthma in susceptible individuals, and atopic dermatitis (eczema)
Here are some tips to help you minimise suffering during the hay fever season:
- Close your windows at night. Most pollen falls to the ground in the evening when the air cools down, so close your window to keep it at bay
- Wear wraparound sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes
- Don’t dry your clothes outside when the pollen count is high
- Keep windows shut while driving
- Vacuum your house regularly, and wash pets who can bring pollen in on their fur
- Wash your hair after going outside
Treatments include antihistamine tablets or nasal sprays, corticosteroid nasal sprays and drops, nasal decongestants and eye drops. If you are acutely suffering the effects of hay fever, consult your GP for other treatment options.