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Allergy UK warns of high pollen counts this bank holiday weekend

Warm temperatures this weekend are expected to cause a spike in pollen counts, causing problems for those living with allergic rhinitis, warns Allergy UK. 

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (more commonly known as hay fever) affects 1 in 5 people in the UK, and can flare up at certain times of the year depending on which pollen is airborne at that time of year (including grass, tree and weed pollen) with grass pollen season the most problematic for the majority. During the spring months pollen from trees is the common culprit for hay fever symptoms. Warm temperatures this weekend are predicted to cause higher pollen counts so people living with pollen allergy may experience allergic symptoms including one or more of the following: 

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose/throat
  • Runny nose
  • Blocked/stuffy nose
  • Red, itchy and watery eyes
  • Cough and or breathing problems

Management of hay fever symptoms includes pollen avoidance by reducing exposure, and managing symptoms with hay fever treatments and medication depending on allergic symptoms and how severe these are.

See Allergy UK’s tips below:

Avoidance of the allergen

  • Check pollen counts for your area and avoid going outdoors when these are high.
  • Shower when you get indoors and change clothes to remove pollen from the skin, hair and clothing.
  • Avoid drying clothes on an outdoor washing line when pollen counts are high.
  • Plan outside activities carefully to avoid peak pollen times and wear wraparound sunglasses and a hat to prevent pollen getting onto the face and in the eyes.
  • Keep windows closed when indoors – particularly early mornings and evenings when high amounts of pollen is in the air.

Managing symptoms with allergy treatments and medication

People living with hay fever should aim to start using preventative/treatment nasal sprays two weeks before symptoms usually begin, and take medication regularly for it to be effective. Monitoring pollen forecasts can help with making informed choices on when to start hay fever medications and treatments alongside guidance from your Health Professional. 

Antihistamines are the cornerstone for many people living with hay fever in managing allergic symptoms of hay fever which can be distracting and impact quality of life, especially when sleep is disrupted. Antihistamines should be non-sedating and are available in a variety of forms including tablets and liquid forms suitable for adults and children. Treating the specific area that is inflamed and problematic such as if eyes are a problem allergy eye drops can be effective in manging symptoms.

Holly Shaw, Nurse Advisor at Allergy UK says: "If people start to become symptomatic they should start taking their medications early so they will be most effective when the pollen levels really peak. If they have them already that is great, otherwise talk to a pharmacist who will be able to help. A pharmacist is a good source of knowledge on the wide range of treatments and medication available choices available to treat specific hay fever symptoms. Pollen can also be an allergic trigger for those with asthma - 80% of people with asthma will also have hay fever. Managing hay fever symptoms can help prevent exacerbations of asthma and is an important part of keeping asthma under control.”

For further information on hay fever you can call the Allergy UK Helpline on 01322 619 898 or email info@allergyuk.org

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