Spring is a wonderful time of year. The birds are singing, the sun is shining and baby animals are being born left, right and centre. Bur for a lot of people, spring can be an itchy, sneezy, horrid time of year.
Hayfever or allergic rhinitis affects over 3 million Australians each year due to a number of allergens including pollen, dust mites, mould, pet fur and grass seeds. And many people find that spring — when pollen from grass and flowers is most active — is when it is at its worst.
Common symptoms of hayfever include:
- Sneezing – not just once or twice but over and over again
- A nose that can either be runny or blocked, or both
- Red, watery, puffy and itchy eyes
- Itchy mouth, throat, nose and/or ears
- Postnasal drip
- Headaches and/or a ‘fuzzy’ feeling in the head
- Tiredness – sometimes caused because the sufferer has been unable to sleep
- A general feeling of misery or being unwell
If you suffer from hayfever, try these tips to ease the irritation:
1. I tablet?
Take a daily, non-sedating anti-histamine tablet. A range are available from chemists – they’re not all the same so find the one that works best for you.
2. Give the nose a burst
Steroid nasal sprays prevent inflammation in the nose, however they can take several days to take effect – so be patient. They also need to be used regularly, every day, during the hayfever season – even on cool rainy days when the pollen count is low.
3. My eyes!
Anti-inflammatory eye drops are great at reducing teary, itchy eyes. Normally used twice a day, you can get them directly from chemists, but larger quantities are much cheaper on prescription from your GP.
4. It’s all about timing
The pollen count is usually at its highest early in the morning and in the early evening – so try to stay indoors and keep windows closed during these times.
5. Shake, shake, shake
Pollen has a nasty habit of sticking to your clothes and your hair. Before going inside, give your clothes a good shake and remember to wash your hair regularly.
6. The future’s so bright
Not just used for a cool look, sunglasses are also effective at protecting your eyes from pollen as well as harmful U-V rays. Wrap around styles are best for hay-fever sufferers and cricketers alike.
7. Shut it out!
On hot, dry days, try and keep your windows closed and if you haven’t got one, fit your car’s air conditioning with a pollen filter.
8. Talk to a professional
Ask your GP about immunotherapy. This reduces the reaction of the immune system to pollen, but several months of treatment are required, which should be started in the autumn or early winter.