15 tips to keep your hay fever under control when pollen levels rise

That’s enough to bring tears to your eyes… The temperatures are rising, but so are the pollen counts – and with it hay fever is on the rise again. However, there are some things you can do to help prevent that dreaded seasonal itch — and relieve symptoms when they do strike, without having to trawl the pharmacy.

1 Pollen allergy can occur at any age

There are many misconceptions about hay fever occurring, with many people assuming that it is a lifelong struggle and you either suffer from it or you don’t. Not true. “The symptoms can start at any age over the age of two,” says hay fever expert Dr. Jean Emberlin. “But the onset is usually between about eight and 15 years. Late-onset hay fever appears to be more common among those over 35 today than it was a few decades ago. The reasons for this are unclear.”

So if you’re experiencing symptoms — itchy eyes, nose and throat, tiredness, and stuffy nose and sinuses — don’t just assume you’ve caught a summer cold and try taking an antihistamine pill to see if it clears up make things better .

2 Be extra careful if you have asthma

About 470,000 people in Ireland have asthma, and 60 to 80 per cent of these also have hay fever, making the summer months difficult. hay fever can make asthma symptoms worse and asthmatics may not recognize the warning signs of an attack, especially when the symptoms of both are so similar and both can be triggered by pollen. So the best way to control asthma triggers is to have them under good control. That means taking your preventative medication as prescribed every day and making sure you’re using your inhaler correctly. Visit your doctor or nurse to create an action plan for managing asthma and allergies.


Domesticated Pet Kittens (Nick Ansell/PA)

3… and other allergies

If you know you’re allergic to airborne allergies like dust or even dander or cat dander, chances are you’re also affected by pollen. This is called allergic rhinitis and has varying degrees of severity. For some, it’s just annoying sneezing, but for others, it can trigger sinusitis and make you feel really sick.

If you know that your rhinitis often turns into sinusitis, you should consult your GP for advice on the most appropriate treatment for you before this happens. It’s also worth speaking to your pharmacist to see if they can offer you some medication advice in the meantime.

Over-the-counter remedies like nasal sprays and antihistamine pills can help by preventing inflammation in the first place. However, if symptoms are severe, you may need a doctor’s help.

4 Prepare in advance

Most people make the mistake of waiting until symptoms appear each year to treat them, but that’s not a good idea. Hay fever treatment should be taken regularly and before symptoms start, as it is more difficult to control symptoms that are already known.


There are a number of natural antihistamines that you can consider if you suffer from hay fever

5 Be consistent in treatment

Don’t stop paying attention to your hay fever once your symptoms have subsided. There’s no harm in taking an antihistamine daily during the summer if your pharmacist has recommended it, and topical treatments should continue to maximize their preventative effects.


A honey bee collects pollen on its leg from a Rudbeckia plant in a park in London

6 Watch the pollen count

“Fresh air is good, so don’t stop going outside completely!” says Dr. emberlin “Just avoid times when pollen levels are highest, which for grass pollen is usually morning and early evening.”

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on pollen counts in your area online and you can also download the Asthma Coach Pollen Tracker app from the Asthma Society.


A summer party on the beach… Photo: Deposit

7 Know your own triggers

Different people are allergic to different types of pollen – grass, tree or plant – but some have difficulty with all three.

“Keep a journal of your symptoms and their severity,” says Dr. emberlin “Notice if your symptoms are worse in specific places, like near some species of trees, flowering grasses, or compost heaps.”

If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may order an allergy test for you — usually a skin prick test or a blood test. “Whatever the pollen culprit is, treating the symptoms is the same,” says Dr. emberlin “However, it helps to know because then you can avoid the worst possible pollen exposure that can make your symptoms worse.”

Other triggers include weather changes, pollen, mould, dust, air pollutants such as cigarette smoke, aerosols and dry ice, sport and alcohol – all common to the festivals that dominate an Irish summer. Be aware and be prepared, especially if you’re going camping and partying in the woods for a weekend!


Ready for Battle: You don’t need a lot of cleaning supplies to get your house clean

8 Keep up with housework

The last thing you want to do when you’re feeling snotty and itchy is chores, but keeping your home sparkling clean and allergen-free can really help with your symptoms. dr However, Emberlin also points out that pollen can stick to wet fabrics. “Don’t hang clothes outside on days when pollen levels are high, as this will cause pollen to stick to clothes. Instead, hang them indoors or use your tumble dryer.”


Dog has fun with a ball

9 Be careful with your pets

If your dog rolls around in the field or yard and then makes a beeline for your bed, you could be suffering. “Furry pets can carry a lot of pollen in their fur,” says Dr. emberlin “If possible, have someone who doesn’t have hay fever brush them or wipe them with a damp towel after they’ve been outside.”

Or just keep the critters out of your sleeping environment – consider how often you breathe in and out at night and how many pollen particles there might be on your sheets and in the air.

10 Watch your diet

It’s tempting to binge on junk food when you have cold-like symptoms, but indulging isn’t going to do you any good! It’s important to keep your immune system in peak condition when you’re suffering to avoid catching a virus or developing an infection. Therefore, you should eat well throughout the hay fever season.

dr Emblin recommends noting how you’re feeling after you eat, too. “Dairy food, for example, can increase mucus secretion.”

So if you feel worse after eating cheese or milk, talk to your doctor about it.

11 Protect yourself

Summer is the time to be outside, so you can’t sit inside and miss out on all the fun. Protect yourself instead. Wear sunglasses (Dr. Emblin recommends the wrap-around style) or a peaked hat to shade your eyes, and don’t rub your eyes or nose, no matter how itchy.

Avoid dozing with your head on the grass and wash your hands after touching plants. Every little helps.

12 Try topical treatments

A dab of petroleum jelly in your nostrils could do a lot to make you feel more comfortable, so give it a try. Eye drops like Opticrom can soothe an itch better than water and flush out annoying pollen particles, while a nasal spray soothes inflamed nostrils and helps you breathe a little easier. There are over-the-counter brands, but a doctor can recommend a prescription strength if needed.

13 Avoid smoky environments and alcohol

“Excess alcohol suppresses the immune system and can worsen symptoms, while air pollution, particularly from vehicles and cigarette smoke, can cause respiratory and eye irritation.”

Not what you want to hear when heading out for a festival weekend or a family camping holiday, but unfortunately it’s a fact. Be aware of your surroundings and realize that smoking and drinking will definitely not help the condition.

14 Be careful at night

Hay fever symptoms are often worse at night. “During the day, the pollen concentrations are diluted by convection currents,” says Dr. emberlin “At night, these subside and pollen falls near the ground, increasing concentrations and therefore causing an increase in symptoms.”

The Asthma Society recommends showering and rinsing your hair before bed and changing outside before sitting down in the evening. These things may be annoying to think about, but they can have a significant impact on your condition.


Make sure your room is dark for better sleep

15 Try to stay calm

Wheezing, itching and a stuffy head can be really stressful. Following the tips above will no doubt help, but it’s important to stay calm, try to get a good night’s sleep, and take care of yourself.

“Stress and dehydration can make symptoms worse,” says Dr. emberlin Remember to consult your pharmacist or GP if you’re really worried, and keep up to date with pollen counts to know what you’re dealing with.

The Met Éireann pollen tracker can be accessed here.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/15-tips-to-keep-your-hay-fever-under-control-as-pollen-count-climbs-38278092.html 15 tips to keep your hay fever under control when pollen levels rise

Fry Electronics Team

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