I bet if you’re hay fever sufferer, you’ll already know that. As the heat rises, so does the pollen count. Low-level symptoms are an irritant, but for 3 million people in the UK with serious lung conditions, it’s not to be sneezed at. Colin looks at the causes, and offers advice on dealing with the effects.
Hay fever happens when the body makes allergic antibodies (IgE) to resist allergens, such as pollen, house dust mites, or mould. presents as a whole (hay) stack of symptoms. These include red or watery eyes, , and an itchy throat, mouth, and ears that trigger coughing, an itchy, runny or blocked nose that has you sneezing and a loss of smell.
Adding to the fun is an ongoing headache and/or earache and a throbbing pain around the temples and forehead. None of those are fun. Hay fever sufferers spend as much time checking the Met Office pollen forecast as the weather.
It restricts what they do, where they go, and feel from dawn to dusk, and beyond. And it’s not just a spring and summer thing. The charity, Allergy UK, offer year-round advice on dealing with allergic reactions.
There are 3 million people in the UK with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), who are at risk of attacks or flare-ups whenever the pollen count goes into the red, according to the charity Asthma and Lung UK. Their asthma checker is a go-to as the pollen hits the breeze.
Let’s be clear. Pollen isn’t the bad guy here, as it is essential for sexual reproduction of flowering and cone-producing plants. But the tight chest, wheezing and breathlessness in 59% of people living with asthma (59%) and more than a quarter of those living with COPD, according to the charity’s research, it’s no consolation.
Asthma attacks kill up to four people in the UK every day. Hay fever cannot be cured or prevented. So, if you or someone you know are at risk, what can help?
As ever, the NHS offer sage advice. Their tips include barrier techniques such as smearing Vaseline around nostrils, wearing wraparound sunglasses, and keeping windows and doors closed to keep pollen out. As ever, your friendly local pharmacist can help, too.
Coda: Over the counter help
Many hay fever patients reach for the antihistamines, a family of drugs that roughly divide into two: those that make you feel sleepy – such as chlorphenamine (Piriton), cinnarizine, diphenhydramine (Nytol), hydroxyzine and promethazine (Avomine) and non-drowsy equivalents. These include acrivastine (Benadryl Allergy Relief), cetirizine, fexofenadine and loratadine. Allergy UK’s factsheet is particularly useful if you’re not sure what to ask for.
So, unless you’re particularly vulnerable, don’t let a bit of pollen ruin your summer. It's an annual, perennial problem, and we have what you need. Click on the link below to watch our video on Hayfever https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSS6ReMk9V0&t=4s&ab_channel=CodaPharmacy
If you want to register for free NHS prescription services click on the link https://codapharmacy.co.uk/Account/Register